What is a Car Insurance Card?

Last Updated on October 19, 2020

In the United States, anyone who owns a vehicle is legally obligated to carry car insurance. In most states, liability insurance is the minimum coverage requirement. This type of insurance protects you financially if you cause an accident. It will pay for any damages (property and bodily) for which you are deemed liable.

In addition to carrying this type of insurance, you must be able to prove that you are covered. That’s where a proof of insurance card comes in.

What Is A Proof Of Car Insurance Card?

A proof of car insurance card is exactly what it sounds like: it’s a card that your insurance provider issues that proves that you do have your vehicle insured. A proof of insurance card is also known as a binder or an insurance identification card.

What Information Does A Proof Of Insurance Card Contain?

proof of car insurance cardInsurance providers issue proof of insurance cards for vehicles that are insured with liability insurance. This card contains pertinent information related to the coverage, including:

  • Name of the insured
  • Address of the insured
  • The year and make of the vehicle
  • Renewal dates for the insurance policy (the date the policy provides coverage until)
  • Name of the insurance provider
  • Number of the insurance policy

Where Do You Get A Proof Of Insurance Card?

In most cases, your insurance provider will mail your proof of insurance card to you. It will likely be bundled in the same package as other important documents related to your insurance policy, such as a declaration page.

You can also obtain a proof of car insurance card by contacting your carrier, by visiting an office of your provider, or by visiting the website of your insurance carrier.

How Long Does It Take To Receive A Proof Of Car Insurance Card?

Usually, you will receive a proof of car insurance card whenever you purchase a new liability insurance policy. The amount of time it takes to receive the card varies from provider to provider. For example, it can take a few weeks after purchasing a new policy to receive a card by mail; or, if you are renewing a policy, you may receive a new card by mail weeks in advance of your renewal date. Additionally, some companies issue an immediate proof of insurance card via email after you purchase or renew a policy that you can download and print or that you can display digitally on your smartphone, tablet, or any other electronic device (most states now accept digital insurance cards).

Do You Really Need A Proof Of Insurance Card?

Yes. You are legally required to carry a proof of car insurance card in the vehicle that is insured. In the event of an accident or a traffic violation, you will be required to show your card. If you do not have your card, you can try to show proof of insurance in other ways, such as the declaration page for your insurance or a receipt; however, these substitutes do not replace your proof of insurance card and will likely not be accepted when you are required to show that you do have insurance coverage.

Who Do You Have To Show A Proof Of Insurance Card To?

There are a lot of people and organizations that will ask to see your proof of insurance card. These individuals and associations include:

  • Officers of the Law. If you get pulled over, a police officer will ask to see your proof of insurance card. If you do not present it, you will likely be issued a fine, and that fine can be quite hefty.
  • Department of Motor Vehicles. Whenever you renew your license place, you will need to provide proof of insurance to your state’s department of motor vehicles (DMV)
  • Insurance companies. If you were involved in an accident and are filing a claim or someone is filing a claim against you, you will be required to show your proof of insurance card.
  • Claimant. In the event of an accident, the other driver involved in the incident or a law enforcement official will ask to see your insurance card. This card contains all of the information that is needed to file police reports and that another driver will need to contact your insurance provider and file a claim.

Where Should You Carry Your Proof Of Insurance Card?

You should always carry the card that illustrates proof of your coverage in the insured vehicle. Make sure that you keep it in a handy location so that you can easily access it when the need arises.

What Happens If Your Card Is Misplaced?

If your card does get lost, you can obtain a new one by contacting your insurance agent, by calling your provider’s customer service, or by visiting your carrier’s website and accessing your policy online as soon as possible.

The Bottom Line

Next to a license and a vehicle registration, a proof of car insurance card is one of the most important things a driver possesses. Make sure you have it in your vehicle at all times.

James Shaffer
James Shaffer James Shaffer is a writer for InsurancePanda.com and a well-seasoned auto insurance industry veteran. He has a deep knowledge of insurance rules and regulations and is passionate about helping drivers save money on auto insurance. He is responsible for researching and writing about anything auto insurance-related. He holds a bachelor's degree from Bentley University and his work has been quoted by NBC News, CNN, and The Washington Post.
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