Understanding Your Car Insurance Card

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Updated July 5th, 2022
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If you looked in your wallet, purse, or vehicle glove compartment right now, would you be able to find your car insurance card? This card is an essential item you need readily available because it contains important insurance information. But what good is having the card when you don’t understand how to read it or what the information means.

That’s where we come in. Keep reading if you’re ready to better understand your auto insurance card. 

Understanding Your Car Insurance Card

Your auto insurance card not only proves you are insured, but it also contains important information that police officers, the DMV or rental car companies might need. You may also need your insurance card for a license renewal, or you can use the information on it when filing a claim. While the design and layout of insurance cards can vary, they all contain certain essential information. 

Important Information on Your Auto Insurance Card

At first glance, your insurance card might look like a jumble of letters and numbers. But if you look closely, you will see it contains key details about you, your policy, and your vehicle. 

Name and Address

Your name and address will appear on the front of the card, often toward the top. If you are covered on a policy but the policy isn’t in your name, your name won’t be on the card. It’s a good idea to verify that you are listed as a covered driver on the policy if this is the case. 

If you move, be sure to update your address with your insurance company right away. They will mail you a new card with the updated information. 

Vehicle Year and Make

Since car insurance follows the vehicle, your car insurance card will reflect the make and model of the car that has coverage. Many cards also include the year the vehicle was manufactured, as well as your vehicle identification number (VIN). 

Insurance Company Name

The name of your insurance company will also appear on the front of the card. It may include your insurance company’s logo and branding as wekk. You will also find the insurance company’s address and phone number somewhere on the card, often on the back. 

Auto Insurance Policy Number

Your policy number will be printed on the front. The policy number makes it easy to quickly look up your insurance coverage, and if you need to file a claim, you will be asked to provide this number. 

Policy Effective and Expiration Dates

Your card will also contain the dates during which your policy is effective. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on your insurance expiration dates so you can make sure that you renew your policy and don’t accidently allow your insurance to lapse. 

How to File a Claim

On the back of your card, you will find information about how to contact your insurance carrier and what to do in the event of an accident. Some cards include detailed information on how to file a claim, including which phone number you should call. 

When You Receive Your Proof of Insurance Card

woman looking for auto insurance card in mailbox

You should receive a new insurance card when you sign up for a new policy and with each renewal. If it’s a renewal insurance card, your insurance company will likely send it out 30-45 days before expiration so you won’t have to go without proof of insurance. 

However, if it’s a new insurance policy, you might be able to print it out online or show proof of insurance online or on their app until your new card arrives. 

Why You Need to Carry Your Auto Insurance Card

If you are ever in an accident or are pulled over for a traffic violation, law enforcement will ask for your insurance card to verify that you are insured. You will also need proof of insurance when registering a vehicle at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), or when applying to lease a vehicle. 

If you are in an accident but don’t have your insurance card with you, you will need to prove that you are insured within a certain timeframe. You might even face a fine for driving without proof of insurance because you’re expected to have it on you at all times. These penalties can be higher if you are in an accident than if you’re just pulled over for a traffic violation. 

How to Get an Insurance ID Card

If you don’t yet have an insurance ID card, or if you lost your card, contact your insurance provider. They provider will send another card out in the mail. 

Depending on the provider you use, you may also be able to print out a copy of your proof of insurance from your online account, so you have physical proof instantly and don’t have to wait for the mail to arrive. Many companies are also offering digital access to your car insurance card through your online account or via their mobile app so you always have access. 

The Importance of Car Insurance Coverage

police officer talking to woman after car accident

You aren’t the only one who needs to be able to see your insurance card at any time. Here are some other people who might need to access the information on your card. 

  • DMV: The Department of Motor Vehicles will request proof of insurance when you renew your license or license plates. 
  • Insurance Company: When you sign up for a new insurance policy, they will want to verify proof of prior insurance to determine whether you let your policy lapse. 
  • Rental Car Company: If you rent a vehicle or even borrow a loaner car from the auto dealership you purchased your vehicle from while it’s being repaired, they will want to see proof of auto insurance so they know you’re covered once you hit the road. 
  • Law Enforcement: In the event of an accident or if you’re pulled over for any infraction, police officers will request to see proof of insurance. If you can’t provide proof, you’ll likely receive a ticket and a fine.
  • Claimant: When you have an accident, you’ll likely exchange insurance information with the other person involved. It may be exchanged directly or through police officers who report to the scene. 

What to Do if your Car Insurance Card is Lost

As soon as you realize you’ve lost or damaged your vehicle’s proof of insurance card you need to contact your insurance provider and request a replacement. They will likely email you one to print out or you can print a copy from their website so you have proof of insurance until your new card arrives. Alternatively, you might be able to use a digital proof of insurance card via the mobile app. 

FAQ About Your Auto Insurance Card

Can I show proof of insurance on my phone? 

While most states allow you to show your insurance card on your phone, some don’t – such as New Mexico. Be sure to check in your state to see if this is allowed. New Mexico law enforcement might not accept that electronic insurance card. 

What is an insurance policy card? 

An insurance policy card functions as your proof of insurance. You will need any time you need to prove that you have insurance for your vehicle. 

Can I print my insurance card at home?

This depends on your insurance company. Many allow you to print your card at home for easy access, but some don’t have this functionality yet. 

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