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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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The last thing that you want to see in your rear view mirror is police lights. While obeying traffic laws and paying your motor vehicle fees on time can help you avoid unnecessary traffic stops, the average driver is pulled over by law enforcement several times in their lifetime.
Knowing how to carry yourself and what you need to avoid infractions can save you a lot of time and money.
Officers will always ask for your license, registration, and insurance documents when you’re stopped. After the officer verifies the documents, you’ll either be sent on your way or cited for the violation.
What you might not know is that the officer may know whether you have insurance before you’re even stopped. Here’s what you need to know:
If Insurance is Required, You Must Have Proof of Insurance With You At All Times
Insurance is mandatory in almost every state. In fact, the only states where you can legally drive without insurance are Virginia, Iowa, and New Hampshire. If you live in any other state, you must have insurance to legally drive any vehicle that you have registered in your name.
With so many uninsured drivers on the road, there are requirements that help officers verify the status of your coverage. In every state, you’re required by law to carry auto insurance ID cards with you at all times. By having these, you can always show which carrier you’re insured through.
Can you present electronic proof of insurance?
In the past, you had to carry a small card that included your policy number, your policy term, your insurance company, your vehicle information, and the VIN. Now, since technology has changed the way people store their information, you may be able to get away with saving your proof of insurance on your phone.
It’s important to check and see if electronic proof of insurance is acceptable in your state. There are currently 24 states that have approved electronic ID cards and several more will soon follow.
Why ID Card Requirements Aren’t Always Enough
While it’s standard for a police officer to ask for your proof of insurance, using the document that you provide to confirm that you have coverage isn’t always effective. The drawback of ID cards is that they are issued for the full term when the term starts.
If your policy cancels for any reason, you’ll still have an ID card that says you have insurance.
States Have Rolled Out Electronic Verification Systems
These databases were rolled out to help the DMV verify the status of a car’s insurance and also to help law enforcement confirm that the ID cards that drivers furnish are valid.
In states where electronic verification systems have been deployed, licensed auto insurance carriers are required by law to notify the state when a policy cancels or does not renew. Companies that don’t electronically notify the DMV of changes to active policies can be fined or lose their license.
Officers May Be Able to See Your Insurance Status Before You’re Stopped
All police officers have access to an in-car computer. This computer is what the officer uses to check your license, your registration, and even your insurance information.
If you live in a state where carriers report insurance via an electronic system, there’s a good chance that police can see your insurance before you are stopped.
Pulling up your insurance information is as easy as typing in your license plate number. Even though officers can see a lapse before they initiate a stop, the reason for the stop can’t be solely for not having insurance. There must be another offense before the driver can be stopped.
Letting your insurance lapse is risky. If you want to avoid being cited for having no insurance, you should get coverage today. Enter all of your personal information in an online quote system and find affordable coverage in minutes.