Proof of Insurance
Proof of insurance is a document issued by your insurance company that provides proof you have at least the state-mandated minimum required liability insurance coverage.
What is Proof of Insurance?
When you purchase auto insurance, your insurer will provide you with proof of insurance. This can be a document, but most often it’s in the form of an insurance identification card. The card is either physical or digital.
Usually, the digital document or insurance cards are emailed to you or available in your insurance company’s app. The identification card has the vehicle information including the vehicle identification number (VIN), the effective date as well as the expiration date of the policy, and the name of the insurance provider, as well as the names of policyholders.
Why would you need to present proof of insurance?
There are a number of reasons why you might be required to present proof of insurance coverage including:
- If you are leasing or financing a car purchase, your lender will likely require proof of insurance before you leave the dealership with your car. While proof of insurance is typically needed to prove that you have state-mandated minimum liability coverage, your lender will likely require higher levels of coverage than that. They’ll be calling the shots there, unless you happen to be buying the car outright, without a loan.
- After being pulled over for a moving violation, or another reason, the police officer who stops you will request to see your insurance cards for proof of insurance coverage, along with your license and vehicle registration. This can be provided in paper format, but many states allow for digital proof of auto insurance.
- If you’re given a loaner vehicle at a dealership while your car is being repaired, they will require proof of insurance. This is to make sure that if there is any damage to the rental car, you have car insurance to cover it.
- When you go to the department of motor vehicles (DMV) to register and get license plates for your privately purchased car, you’ll be required to present proof of insurance.
This is not an exhaustive list and your state may have other scenarios where proof of insurance may be required.
How do I get proof of insurance?
That’s simple: Your insurance company will provide you proof of insurance coverage. This will either be in the form of a document, or an insurance card.
Usually, these are provided in both physical and virtual formats, with the virtual version issued immediately when the policy is purchased, and hard copies arriving shortly after.
Keep in mind that when your policy expires, new insurance cards are required. If you get a new car mid-term, you’d also need new insurance cards. While digital insurance cards are allowed in most states, it’s smart to have a physical one in your glove box in case you don’t have reception or your phone is dead.
When is a Certificate of Financial Responsibility required?
Also known as an SR22 form, this is required for high-risk drivers in certain situations to verify that insurance requirements are met.
This includes people with a certain type of driving record that maybe includes DUIs, DWIs, multiple driving violations in a short time period, accidents that occurred while driving uninsured or with a suspended license, and other scenarios.
This is not a different type of insurance, but rather, a document filed with the state to prove financial responsibility in the event of an accident. SR22 is usually required for 3 to 5 years after the last relevant incident on your driving record, but may vary depending on the state.
What if I lose my insurance card?
We all occasionally lose paperwork—awkwardly shaped vaccination cards, we’re looking at you—and your insurance ID card is no exception.
In states that require you to carry a paper copy, you may be able to easily print one out. Just contact your insurance agent, and the insurer will get you the cards. If a digital insurance card qualifies as proof of coverage, then download that or the insurance app to your phone.
If you get pulled over by law enforcement without your insurance ID card, you may receive a ticket. That ticket may be dismissed if you indeed did have insurance, but just didn’t have the insurance card at the time of being pulled over. In those cases, a small administrative fee may be required. In any case, it’s an easy headache to avoid.
If you do not have proof of insurance because you are…not insured…and you get into an accident, you may have your license suspended, revoked, and/or face hefty fines. Don’t risk it.