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Obtaining Proof of Insurance

Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com

Every driver in the United States is required to carry proof of insurance in their vehicle at all times. If you get pulled over for a traffic violation or get into an accident, you will be asked to provide your insurance information. Driving without proof of insurance is illegal, and if you get caught, there can be serious consequences.

What is proof of insurance?

Proof of insurance is an official document that states you have an active car insurance policy. When you sign your insurance policy, the provider will usually mail you a small card to keep in your car’s glove box or have your print it. Many insurance companies also allow drivers to access their insurance card through a mobile app.

If you’re asked to provide proof of insurance, your insurance card is all you need. It contains the most important information about your policy and details about your vehicle. Here is the information you can find on your proof of insurance card:

  • Your name and address
  • Your vehicle’s make and model 
  • Your policy’s start and end dates
  • The amount of coverage you have
  • Your insurance company
  • Your insurance policy number

If you have multiple people on your auto insurance policy, it’s unlikely that they will each get an insurance card. Keep your proof of insurance inside your vehicle in a safe place so any driver can have access to it. If another person on your policy is driving, they need to know where the insurance card is located.

Additionally, most cars in storage do not get an insurance card. If you have a stored car and decide to drive it again, contact your insurance company to reinstate your policy and obtain proof of insurance.

Where can you obtain proof of insurance?

There are several forms of documentation that can be used as proof of insurance. You will need to get one of these documents from your insurance company, so they can verify that you have an active policy. These documents include:

  • An insurance card: Insurance cards are the most common way to show proof of insurance. When you purchase auto insurance, your insurance company will mail you a physical card to keep in your vehicle that proves you are an insured driver. 
  • Proof of coverage letter: When you get an auto insurance policy, you will also receive a proof of coverage letter from the insurance company. You can save the letter and keep it in your vehicle as valid proof of insurance. The coverage letter includes the same information that can be found on your insurance card.
  • SR-22 form: If your license gets suspended, you will need to fill out an SR-22 form (also called an F-44 form) to show proof of financial responsibility before your license can get reinstated. An SR-22 form doesn’t replace your auto insurance, but it’s a supplement that shows the DMV you have the minimum amount of insurance coverage for your state. You can get an SR-22 form through your insurance company.

Most major insurance companies also allow policyholders to access a digital insurance card through a mobile app. This is a more convenient way to show proof of insurance because you don’t need to have your physical card on hand. Currently, the only states that do not allow digital proof of insurance are Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New Mexico.

Why do you need proof of insurance?

Having proof of insurance is a legal requirement in almost every state. As a driver, there are situations that would require you to show proof of coverage:

  • You get into an accident: If you get into an accident, one of the first things you do is exchange insurance information with the other driver. You want to have your insurance card handy so you can prove you are covered and have all the necessary information.
  • You get pulled over: If you get pulled over for a traffic violation, the officer will probably ask to see your proof of insurance. If you are found to be driving without proof of insurance, you’ll be given a citation and a court date. As long as you can show proof of insurance in court, the fine will be waived.
  • You need to register your car: If you need to register a new car, you might need to have proof of insurance before you can go to the DMV. The laws vary by state, so check with your DMV about the rules around insurance and registration.

There might be other situations where you need proof of insurance, so make sure you know how to access your information when you need it.

What do you do if you lose your proof of insurance?

If you lose your proof of insurance, don’t drive without it. Contact your insurance company as soon as possible. It can resend you a physical copy of your insurance card and give you a digital version to use in the meantime. Also, check your online account to see if you can access a digital version or print a copy of your card at home.

The takeaway

  • All drivers need to carry proof of insurance in their car at all times.
  • Proof of insurance is used to validate that you have an active car insurance policy.
  • An insurance card, letter of coverage or SR-22 form are all acceptable forms of proof.
  • You’ll need to show proof of insurance if you get pulled over, get into an accident or register your car at the DMV.

Besides your license, you need proof of insurance to legally drive. Your proof of insurance is a document that states you have an active car insurance policy. After purchasing an insurance policy, you’ll be mailed an insurance card to keep with you in the car. Have that card handy at all times in case you need to show proof of insurance.

You can also use a letter of coverage or SR-22 form to show proof of insurance. If you lose your proof of insurance, don’t risk driving without it. Contact your insurance company to get a replacement or find out if you can access your proof of insurance documents online.

Elizabeth Rivelli

Elizabeth is an insurance writer for coverage.com, where she covers insurance providers and reviews policies to help consumers find comprehensive and affordable coverage for every area of their life. She has more than three years of writing experience for top online insurance and finance publications.

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