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What is proof of insurance?

What is proof of insurance?
Chris Muller
Updated August 30, 2021
4 Min Read

Proof of insurance usually refers to an insurance card that proves the driver has a car or other motor vehicle liability coverage. The proof of this type of insurance is essential because it protects others if you are found liable for an accident.

In this article, we'll be discussing the proof of insurance for vehicles and providing information on what proofs look like, how to get them, and why they're essential.

What Does an Insurance Card Look Like?

An insurance card can be a card, sticker, or other proof issued by an insurance company. This car will usually have the driver's name and policy number on it and information about what types of coverage they have.

Depending on where you get insurance, your card may look different. However, most insurance cards are the same size and shape - that of a credit card (though typically not as "sturdy").

As we move further into the digital age, more companies offer digital insurance cards (more on this below). A digital insurance card is just like your physical card. Still, it's in an electronic format and most often housed within the app of your insurance provider.

Insurance cards are essential for more than just the driver's personal use - they can also be helpful if you have to provide proof of insurance when renting a vehicle or borrowing someone else's car.

When Do You Receive Your Car Insurance Card?

You'll receive your car insurance card when you first purchase your policy. Though the car insurance card is also available online, most people receive their cards in person when they sign up for a new plan from their insurer.

The proof of insurance card will be sent via mail. It should arrive within two weeks after payment has been received by the auto carrier (the company that provides coverage).

I also mentioned digital insurance cards above. Assuming your provider has this option, you should be able to access your insurance card immediately through the app. If not, most companies allow you to print a copy for your records while you wait for your physical card.

How to Obtain Proof of Insurance

Proof of insurance is a necessity for getting on the road. Therefore, the proof of insurance card is imperative to have in your vehicle at all times. It should be made readily available if ever pulled over by law enforcement, even if you are not driving a car with any passengers inside.

To obtain proof of insurance, you will need to contact your insurance company. You can either call them or go online to their official website, where they should have an option for documentation like a proof of insurance card.

The proof of insurance must match up with the identification information that was used when signing up for insurance, to begin with. In addition, insurance cards should be kept in a safe place to be always accessible and not lost.

What to Do if Your Proof of Insurance Is Lost or Lapsed?

Suppose your proof of insurance has either been lost, stolen, or lapsed, and you don't have a replacement proof of insurance card. In that case, your car insurance coverage will likely be suspended.

Contact the DMV to obtain a new driver's license if needed to replace expired identification information with updated information. This can usually be done at any DMV office near you.

If it's just your proof of insurance that's lost, you should be able to request a new one from your insurance provider quickly (as well as access it online).

If your proof of insurance has lapsed, however, this is more serious, and you should contact your insurance provider as soon as possible.

In most cases, proof of insurance will be automatically renewed for one year to avoid lapses. However, if it expires before renewal eligibility occurs or if you didn't opt-in for automatic billing when purchasing a plan from an insurer, then it can cause severe issues if it's not updated promptly.

It is important to note that proof of insurance from different states is generally accepted to establish vehicle ownership, so long as the state has reciprocity with your current location.

If you're unsure which one to get, contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Yes, electronic proof of insurance is entirely legal. An electronic proof of insurance is also known as a proof of insurance card, or E-Card.

The DMV will accept electronic proof of insurance from your insurer if verified by the issuing agent. Then, all you need to do is hand over the documentation and take care of registration simultaneously - all in one visit!

Just know that digital evidence isn't the same as an insurance card. You can use it to prove that you have proof of insurance. Still, if you're pulled over for a traffic stop or involved in an accident, police will want to see the actual document on file with your DMV.

Suppose you have a company that offers electronic proof of insurance. In that case, it's also important to know that the card is only valid for as long as your policy remains in good standing with them - so if there is any lapse or cancellation, be sure not to make use of this service until the policy has been reinstated.

Why Proof of Insurance Is Necessary

Proof of insurance is necessary because it protects you in the unfortunate event that you're involved in an accident. It also provides evidence to a police officer of your vehicle's coverage. It makes it easier for them to decide what infractions or penalties should apply.

It is required by law, so if this document doesn't exist, there are consequences, such as hefty fines and even jail time if the infraction is severe enough.

It's always a smart idea to have your proof of insurance printed out and stored in your glove compartment, as well as keeping the actual card in your wallet. I do this to ensure that I always have it on me.

Summary

It's not enough to just have insurance. You need proof of it, too.

We know you probably think that this is obvious, and we want to say, "well, duh." But here's the thing: some people forget their proof of insurance at home or in their office when they go out for a late lunch meeting with clients.

When you get pulled over by the police officer, if you don't have your car registration on hand (which proves where you live), then what?

The same goes for any type of accident or incident that would require an exchange between yourself and another person who needs validation - like getting your driver's license renewed!

Keep everything handy in your wallet and car, so you always remember what documents are there and where to find them.

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