“License and registration, please.”
Blue and red lights flash across your rearview mirror. The officer leans over your window. Your throat dives to the pit of your stomach.
You ask yourself, “How fast was I going?”
You’re also wondering, “Do I have my latest insurance card in the car? Will they accept it on my phone?”
We’ve all been there. And every time it happens we end up asking ourselves if we have the right proof of insurance on us.
What is proof of insurance and which kinds are okay to use? Can you just pull up your auto insurance mobile app and you’re good to go?
Don’t worry. We’ve got your back. We’ll answer all your questions about proof of insurance (including some you didn’t even think to ask). We’ll show you why you need it and whether you really need to print out that little card and keep it tucked away in your (probably exploding) glove box.
What Is Proof of Insurance?
Proof of insurance is a document given by your insurance carrier that proves your vehicle is covered and that it meets state minimum requirements. Pretty straightforward. (Proof of insurance is possibly the one insurance term that actually makes sense. Plain terms are not exactly insurance’s strong suit.)
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Proof of insurance can come in a few different forms:
- Auto Insurance ID Card—This is the most common form. Your car insurance card includes policy information like who is insured, your address, vehicle make and model, policy number, and other important details. However, it typically doesn’t include the exact kinds of coverage you have or the policy limits.
- Proof of Coverage Letter—This is exactly what it sounds like. A letter from your insurance carrier stating that you’re covered.
- SR-22 Form—SR-22 forms are filed with your state and prove you have the minimum required coverage. (But don’t assume your state’s minimum coverage actually covers your vehicle. It’s usually not enough.)
- Digital Insurance Card—Most states allow digital versions as proof. (More on this in a second.)
Why Do I Need Proof of Auto Insurance?
Since it’s illegal to drive without car insurance, it’s a good idea to prove you have it. If you can’t prove it, you could wind up in some sticky situations.
For example, if you’re in a car accident where there’s a question of who’s at fault and you can’t prove you have insurance, it’s not going to look good. Without proof, some people will assume you don’t have it or that you’re trying to hide something. Better to just have your car insurance card handy so there’s no doubt. Plus you’ll be able to easily swap information with the other parties.
You’ll also need proof of insurance if you get pulled over. If you can’t prove you have insurance, the officer will probably give you a citation and you’ll have to appear in court. But don’t fret too much. Just bring your proof of insurance to court or mail it in and they’ll usually waive the ticket. (You might still have to pay a small fee though.)
Take this stuff seriously. Negligence can lead to your driver’s license being suspended or even revoked. Not good.
Some states also require you to show proof of insurance when getting a car registered. But no worries. Just call your local DMV or check their website to see which paperwork you’ll need.
How to Get Proof of Insurance
Although some people actually create fake proof of insurance, we know you’re better than that.
Plus, it’s actually pretty easy to get proof of insurance documents. You can download the file from your carrier’s website or have it emailed to you. Some will still mail it to you, too. (Snail mail, anyone?) You can then print it and throw it in your car’s glove box.
Most insurance companies also have apps you can download that will let you easily access your insurance card.
Is Digital Insurance Okay?
In the Smartphone Age (or Information Age, or whatever name we’re calling it now), many wonder if it’s really acceptable to show your insurance card on your phone.
Good news! Digital versions of proof of insurance are accepted. New Mexico is the only state that doesn’t allow it. But in Washington, D.C. and 49 other states, you can simply pull out that brand-new iPhone and flash the officer your insurance info. Then you can be on your way (hopefully with just a warning).
Do I Need to Keep Proof of Insurance in My Car?
Not necessarily, as long as you have the insurance proof on your phone. But you might still want to have a back-up hard copy in your vehicle in case your phone dies or you’re driving through the Appalachian Mountains to take that epic hike and you don’t have cellular service.
Proof of insurance is just one of those things that it’s good to pay attention to. So whether you use a hard copy, digital version, or both, don’t leave home without it.
And if all this talk of car insurance has you asking yourself the age-old questions, Do I have enough coverage for my vehicle? or Could I get a cheaper rate?, look no further than our team of independent insurance agents called Endorsed Local Providers (ELPs). They can check out your situation and help you find the best bang for your buck.
Connect with an ELP today and let them shop quotes for you.