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How does a VIN affect car insurance?

How companies use the VIN to set insurance rates and what to expect when getting quotes

Your vehicle identification number (VIN) is a 17-character number that’s unique to your car, giving details about its product number, the country it was made in and even its accident history. A car insurance company can use the VIN to find identifying information about your car quickly — though it’s not required to get a quote.

Why do insurance companies check my VIN?

When you’re buying car insurance, insurance companies ask for your VIN to get the specifications on your car. These details help the company give an accurate quote since the make and model, mileage, structural safety and any accidents you’ve caused affect your insurance rate.

Details that your VIN tells about your car:

  • Make and model
  • Accident and damage history
  • Previous owners
  • Whether it’s a salvaged vehicle
  • Country of origin, which affects getting repair parts
  • Maintenance, recalls and repair history
  • Past odometer readings

Will my insurance go up if I use my VIN?

Your car insurance rate may change if you use a VIN to get quotes, but it won’t always increase. The VIN simply helps your quotes to be as accurate as possible. You’ll have to give the insurance company your VIN before finalizing the policy, so you speed up your application process by doing it ahead of time.

Should I use my VIN for car insurance quotes?

If you’re unsure about a brand’s privacy protection while getting quotes, give your car’s make, model and accident history instead of using your VIN. Then before finalizing your policy, check for warning signs that a car insurance company might be a scam.

If it’s legit, you can look on the company’s website or search online for the company’s name and privacy policy. After reading through the privacy statement, decide whether to give your VIN for an accurate quote or to finalize your policy.

How to get an insurance quote by VIN

Using your VIN for a car insurance quote works similarly to getting quotes without one, except that it might speed up the process. What to expect:

  1. Start your quote. You can begin online or call the insurance representative directly with the number listed on the company’s website.
  2. Enter your car’s VIN. Since filling out your car’s details is one of the first steps, have your VIN handy during the quoting process.
  3. Verify your car’s details. If you’re quoting online, you may see individual details about your car filled in automatically. Verify that the specifications and accident history are correct. For quotes by phone, the rep may ask you to confirm multiple details.
  4. Fill in any missing information. Make sure the quote form is filled out entirely, including all drivers in your household and accidents you’ve had.
  5. Choose your coverage. Pick the coverage you want on your policy. Then, choose the amount you’ll pay for your deductible before your insurance pays out for damage.
  6. Get your quote. With the application complete, the insurance rep or quoting tool will give you an estimate for your premium. Decide whether that rate is acceptable before finalizing your application.

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When you might need a VIN

Since your VIN can tell you a lot about your car, you can use a VIN check to:

  • Buy a used car. Make sure you know about your used car’s accident and maintenance history, as well as whether it has an active police report or a salvage title.
  • See your car’s last service date. A simple VIN check on Carfax or another reputable site can tell you when your car was last serviced or repaired.
  • Find info about an abandoned car. The VIN can help you see police reports for a stolen car or tell you what state the last owner lived in. These details can help you notify local police that you found the car.
  • Locate the driver of a hit-and-run. If you have the VIN or license plate number for the car that hit you, you can give the number to local police or your insurance company to help with locating the other driver.

Can I find a car’s owner by VIN?

The short answer is that you can’t find a car’s owner by running its VIN — at least not legally. When you run a car’s VIN through car records sites like Carfax, you’ll find limited information about its owners.

Carfax gives details like the number of previous owners, any accidents they had and whether the car was used for personal or commercial reasons. And the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s VIN tool tells you if a car has a salvage title or is reported stolen.

To find a vehicle’s owner, you need to ask local police to run its license plate number. The police may provide only limited information to you or may reach out to the car’s owner in specific situations, like if the car was stolen.

Bottom line

Your car insurance company uses the VIN to crosscheck information about your car’s make, model and accident reports, helping the company give you the most accurate quote possible. However, most companies don’t require the VIN for the quoting process if you’d prefer to keep this unique number private until you make a final decision.

You can compare car insurance companies‘ coverage and reputation to make sure you buy the right policy for you.

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