Proof of Insurance: What Is it and When Do You Need It?

Fran Majidi
October 11, 2019

After you purchase insurance, there is a little card mailed to you by the insurance carrier that shows that you have insurance on your vehicle. This proof of insurance is called an insurance identification card or a binder. It always contains the insured’s name and home address, vehicle year and makes and policy renewal dates. It also includes your insurance company’s name and your insurance policy number. All insured drivers get this insurance ID, which the police call proof of insurance. In fact, two copies are mailed to the home each time you renew your insurance. Many companies also make it easy to print out a copy of your proof of insurance if you lose your copy. Regardless of how you obtain your proof of insurance, you must carry a copy with you every time you drive. Here's some more information you should know about carrying proof of insurance.

Where Can I Get Proof of Insurance

Your proof of insurance is usually attached to or mailed along with your declaration page in your policy jacket. You should get a new proof of insurance each time you renew your policy. If you did not receive these documents, you should be in touch with your agent or carrier. Most insurance companies also allow you to print out a copy of your proof of insurance after logging onto the website. You may have gotten your proof of insurance as an email.

If you have not gotten your proof of insurance or are having difficulty getting a copy of it, call the customer service number for your insurance company or contact your agent, who may be able to help you log in to print out what you need. Some companies nowadays also offer electronic proof of insurance. See more on this below.

What if I Lose My Proof of Insurance?

It’s not a big deal if you lose your proof of insurance or if someone else gets a hold of it. You just have to make sure that you’re not driving for any length of time without one. The fastest way to replace your card is to log into your account and print out a PDF file of your insurance ID card, which is your proof of insurance.

Electronic Proof of Insurance

Many states in the U.S now allow drivers to display electronic proof of insurance using their smartphones if they need to show an officer or any authority on the road their proof of insurance. You now have a choice between the paper proof of insurance and electronic proof of insurance. This law was passed as early as 2012 in some states. In most cases, this means a PDF file sent by an insurer to the policyholder. Some people save images taken of the insurance card on their phone.

The convenience of having electronic proof of insurance on your cellphone is undeniable, especially if you’re someone who keeps everything on their phone. With that said, what will you do if you’re pulled over and your phone is dead? Or, what if you lose your phone and need to show proof of insurance?

Even when you don’t lose your phone, handing your phone over to the police is a little awkward, especially if you got pulled over for texting while driving.

The following states allow electronic proof of insurance:

Is There a Substitute for Proof of Insurance?

No, if you are caught without proof of insurance, you cannot use the declaration page or a receipt to vouch for having insurance. You can get a ticket if you are driving without proof of insurance. The fine is not cheap in most states.

You’ll also need to provide proof of insurance to the Secretary of State if you renew your license plate. If you get into an accident, you’ll also be fresh out of luck if you don’t have your newest proof of insurance. If you have the one that already expired, it won’t suffice.

Can an SR-22 Form Be Used as Proof of Insurance?

Yes, if your license has been suspended, for instance after a DUI, you’ll be asked to carry an SR-22 form. This can be used as your proof of insurance if you’re in an accident.

Can I Register Without Proof of Insurance?

In some states, you are required to have insurance before registering your car. In some states, you are not. Check with your local DMV to find out what the requirements are in your state.

What if Show Fake Proof of Insurance?

Fake proof of insurance could get you charged with insurance fraud and lead to a much worse nightmare than being caught driving without car insurance. If you don’t have car insurance, you should not be on the road. If you have insurance, there is no reason for you to show a fake proof of insurance.

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