Does VIN Etching Lower Insurance?

Last Updated on May 10, 2020

A growing number of drivers have purchased VIN etching.

VIN etching is the practice of engraving your vehicle’s federally registered vehicle identification number (VIN) onto the vehicle’s windshield and windows.

VIN etching reduces the chances of your car being stolen. But does it also lower insurance premiums?

Some auto insurers give a discount for VIN etching, while other insurers do not. Below, we’re explaining everything you need to know about how VIN etching lowers insurance premiums.

vin etching

What is VIN Etching?

The process of “VIN etching” inscribes your vehicle’s 17-digit identification number onto your windshield and all windows using a stencil and acidic etching paste. Most parts of your vehicle that are made of glass will be etched, including the rear window, sunroof, side windows, and other glass surfaces. The purpose of VIN etching is to prevent vehicle theft, by making your car less attractive to thieves.

You can get VIN etching done at a dealership, a body shop, or other car repair facility. Most facilities engrave the VIN using a laser, chemical, or mechanical process. It typically takes less than 15 minutes.

The VIN is etched at the bottom of your windshield. It does not obstruct your view or change the overall appearance of your car. However, it does make your car less attractive to thieves.

Benefits of VIN Etching

Police forces and insurance companies recommend VIN etching to protect your vehicle against theft.

It’s hard for a thief to make a profit off a stolen vehicle when the car’s VIN is etched into the glass. When your VIN is etched into all of the glass surfaces on the vehicle, it means the thief needs to change all the glass on the vehicle before selling it. This is expensive, which is why VIN etching deters vehicle theft.

If a thief steals your vehicle and the VIN is etched into the glass, then it’s easier to recover your vehicle. Even if a thief is able to sell or use your vehicle for a period of time, it’s easy to track your vehicle because the VIN is etched into the glass.

How to Get VIN Etching

Many dealerships offer VIN etching on new vehicles, although they’ll charge more than other provides ($200 or more).

You can buy your own DIY etching kit for $20 from Amazon and other retailers. The kit makes it easy to engrave your VIN onto your vehicle’s glass.

AAA also offers VIN etching to members ($30) and non-members ($40).

Many police forces and city crime prevention organizations offer free VIN etching. There might be a free VIN etching weekend, for example, where they encourage drivers to come down and have their VIN etched into the glass. This is particularly common in cities with high rates of vehicle theft.

Insurers May or May Not Offer a VIN Etching Discount

Some insurance companies offer a VIN etching discount, while others do not.

VIN etching is proven to reduce the risk of vehicle theft. If your vehicle is stolen, then your comprehensive coverage will cover your loss. This means your insurance company could be required to compensate you for the entire cost of the vehicle. For that reason, it makes sense for the insurer to offer a discount for VIN etching.

In reality, however, VIN etching insurance discount programs vary widely. Some insurers offer VIN etching discounts, while others offer no discount whatsoever.

Keep in mind that there are three major types of insurance coverage, and only one type covers vehicle theft:

Liability Coverage: Covers damage you inflict on other people and property while driving (required in most states).

Collision Coverage: Covers the cost of repairing damage to your own vehicle after an accident (optional in all states).

Comprehensive Coverage: Covers vehicle theft, vandalism, storm damage, fire damage, and other damage not caused by a car accident (optional in all states).

Your car is only protected against theft if you have comprehensive coverage. After VIN etching, you will only receive a discount on your comprehensive coverage – not on liability or collision coverage.

You Can Still Save on Insurance with VIN Etching

Even if your insurer does not offer VIN etching, you can still save a considerable amount on car insurance with VIN etching.

If someone steals your vehicle, then your insurance company may compensate you, but you have to pay your deductible.

Plus, your insurer only compensates you (in most cases) for the actual cash value of your vehicle, which is always much less than what you paid for it. Many drivers are disappointed to discover how low the actual cash value of their vehicle is.

The actual cash value of your vehicle is rarely equal to the cost of replacing your vehicle. You might receive $10,000 after your vehicle is stolen, for example, even though dealerships sell your current model of car for $15,000 or more. You can buy a cheaper vehicle or pay the difference out of pocket.

You can avoid all of these problems with VIN etching. Etching your VIN into your vehicle can deter theft, which means you never have to worry about your deductible, actual cash value, or other issues.

Contact your Insurer and Ask About Discounts

VIN etching policies vary between insurers. We recommend talking to your insurance company to verify whether or not VIN etching discounts are available.

Some insurers also require you to submit a completed form to receive a VIN etching discount. The body shop, dealership, or car repair center that etched your vehicle, for example, may provide a form certifying you had your VIN etched.

Final Word on VIN Etching

VIN etching can save you money on car insurance. Some insurers offer discounts for VIN etching, while other insurers offer no discounts whatsoever.

Talk to your insurance company to see if a VIN etching discount is available. Even if there’s no VIN etching discount, you may still want to etch your VIN: it can significantly reduce the likelihood of your vehicle being stolen, which could save you money in the long run.

James Shaffer
James Shaffer James Shaffer is a writer for 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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