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Proof of Insurance 101

Insurance ID Card or Binder

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What is a proof of insurance?

A proof of insurance is that little card given to you by your insurance carrier that shows you indeed have insurance on your vehicle. It is sometimes referred to as an insurance identification card or a binder. If you never file an insurance claim, the piece of paper is all you get for your money along with peace of mind. It is a big "if" though, most people do not go a lifetime without ever filing a claim. The proof of insurance will contain the following information:

  • Insured's name and address
  • Vehicle year and make
  • Policy renewal dates
  • Insurance company name
  • Insurance policy number

Proof of insurance is issued for every insured drivable vehicle with liability insurance coverage. Vehicles in storage or towed do not get issued proofs of insurance.

Where can you obtain your proof of insurance?

Proof of insurance is typically mailed to you in the same package as your insurance declaration page and other policy information. Proof can also be obtained at your insurance agency, online, or by calling customer service.

When do you receive your proof of insurance?

You should receive proof of insurance when you purchase a new policy. Plus with every renewal, you should receive a proof of insurance either in the mail or by email. Proofs are typically sent out forty-five to thirty days in advance of your renewal.

Are there any substitutes for a proof of insurance?

If you are caught without a proof of insurance, first thing you'll try to do is show some other form of proof. A declarations page, maybe a payment receipt, but none of those will work. Nothing can replace your proof of insurance. It is required by law to carry proof of insurance in the vehicle you are driving. More than likely, substitutes will not be allowed when proof of insurance is required.

Who wants to see proof of insurance?

  • Secretary of State (DMV)
    You will need to provide your proof of insurance to the Secretary of State every time you renew your license plate.

  • Police Officer
    Have your proof of insurance ready in case you get pulled over. The first thing a cop usually says is license and registration please. If you do not provide proof, you are likely to receive a stiff fine. Many states have increase the penalty for not providing proof of insurance.

  • Claimant
    After an accident someone whether it is the other person involved in the accident or the police officer will want to see your proof of insurance. Your proof of insurance has all the information needed to trade information with the other driver and potentially fill out the police report.

  • Insurance Company
    Insurance companies want to see proof of insurance and a declaration page is usually required. To simplify, proof of insurance in this article refers to insurance ID cards only. ID cards usually won't cut it in this scenario.

  • Lender
    Lenders usually want to be listed as loss payee on your insurance policy. They are also looking for proof of insurance. Again, the proof a lender is looking for is a declaration page and not insurance ID cards.

How many proofs of insurance does an insurance company issue per vehicle?

Insurance companies usually issue two proofs of insurance per vehicle. One to keep in your vehicle at all times and one to use to provide proof to the Secretary of State. Sometimes you need to mail out your proof of insurance and having an additional copy makes the process a lot easier.

What if there is an error on your proof of insurance?

Have you recently changed your address or is there a typo in your VIN number? You need to have your proof of insurance updated. Contact your insurance agent, sign in to your online policy, or call your carrier's customer service number and get your proof updated. A wrong VIN number can cause the most problems when getting your license plates renewed and dealing with a police officer.

What should you do if your proof of insurance is lost?

Insurance proofs are one of those things that are easy to lose. Insurance companies issue them so early before your renewal. And, they are usually tucked into an envelope with multiple pages of paperwork making them easy to overlook. If you have lost your proofs, you need to contact your agent, print online, or call the customer service number immediately. Nowadays insurance proofs can be emailed, faxed, or printed online to get access instantly.

A proof of insurance is a very important piece of paper. Put it in an easily accessible location as soon as you receive the document. Many insurance agencies offer proof of insurance holders to help you stay organized. Putting the proof above your visor or in your glove box will make your life a lot easier when the time comes to use it.

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