How do I check insurance on a car?

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Here's what you need to know...
  • If a vehicle that’s registered to be driven isn’t insured, the vehicle owner is breaking the law
  • Before you drive a non-owned vehicle, it’s important that you ask the vehicle owner to provide you with proof that the vehicle is insured. You should have the owner call the carrier to verify the status of the insurance policy in front of you to ensure that the policy is active
  • You can’t call another person’s insurance company and verify that a policy is active due to privacy laws
  • If you’re in an accident, it’s important to gather information that helps make the investigation process easier
  • If you’re unable to get the other driver’s insurance information, you can call your own insurance carrier to file a claim. Once the claim is filed, you need to provide identifying information so that the adjuster can locate the vehicle’s insurance policy

It’s against the law to drive an uninsured vehicle. While carrying insurance is a must, it’s estimated that about 12.6 percent of all of the vehicles in the nation are uninsured. Since uninsured drivers put all other drivers and the pedestrians at risk, it’s important that you look for a way to protect yourself.

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It’s unfortunate that you can’t pick up the phone and call to see if your friend has insurance. Due to privacy policies that have been put in place by all licensed insurers, only the named insured of a policy or the loss payee on the policy can verify the status of the coverage. If you’d like to find out how you can go about checking insurance on a car, here’s what you need to know:

Know the Insurance Laws in Your State Before You Drive

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You can’t legally drive without proof of financial responsibility unless you live in New Hampshire, Iowa, or Virginia. If you live in any other state and you own a car, it’s your duty to buy at least a minimal level of protection. The protection that’s required by the state depends on the type of system the state operates under.

If you’re the legal owner of a registered vehicle, you have to be able to prove that you have the coverage if you’re pulled over by an officer or audited by the DMV. If you’re unable to provide the proof that’s requested, you could be cited, lose your vehicle license, or even lose your license to drive.

Check a Vehicle’s Insurance Before You Drive a Borrowed Car

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If you’re concerned about whether or not a vehicle that you borrow has insurance, you need to have a discussion with the vehicle owner. It’s best to ask the legal owner what type of insurance they carry. If you trust them, the verbal confirmation may be enough for you. Your existing liability coverage may extend when you borrow a car, but that’s never a guarantee.

It’s best for you to ask the owner to contact their carrier in front of you so that you can check the real-time status of the coverage.

If you don’t want to sound insulting, asking the owner to call their company to verify that coverage will extend to you is a good excuse for the owner to make the contact.

It’s better to be safe than sorry.

A warning: Make sure that you always check that the private owner of a used car you’re checking out has insurance. Don’t take the vehicle for a test drive unless you’re certain that they have liability coverage or that your own current insurance will cover any accidents.

Checking the Status of a Policy After an Accident

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It’s very important to collect all of the information that your carrier needs when you file a claim for damages or medical bills after an auto accident. You can’t expect to pick up the phone and call the other party’s company from the scene of the accident to see if their coverage is in effect, but you can rely on your claims adjuster to do the work for you.

The only way that your claims adjuster will be able to check the insurance on any of the other cars involved is if you gather the information that the adjuster will ask for. Getting as much information as possible is best. Here are some of the items that should be on your accident checklist:

  • Location of accident
  • Road conditions
  • Damage to each vehicle involved
  • Driver of the vehicle, driver license number, contact number
  • Owner of the vehicle
  • Vehicle year, make, model, vehicle identification number (VIN), and license plate number
  • Insurance information including company, policy number, phone number, and expiration date
  • Passengers and witnesses

Can your insurance adjuster find out if a vehicle has insurance?

If you’re involved in a hit-and-run accident, it’s not possible to get insurance information from the driver who flees the scene.

In this case, you need to rely on the police and your insurance adjuster to check and see if the car is uninsured. If you can get the car’s license plate number, the insurer can check a database or an electronic verification system to find out which carrier to contact.

If you want to shop around for affordable car insurance premiums, you should get quotes from several different carriers to do a thorough comparison. The quickest way to get these quotes is to use an online rate comparison tool that will connect you with leading carriers.

Our quotes tool is fast, free, and secure. All you have to do is enter your zip below, fill out a simple form, and we’ll send quotes from multiple companies to you today!

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