What does my car insurance certificate look like?

Your car insurance certificate looks like a one-page document that lists your coverage details. It acts as proof of insurance coverage. It’s required when you register your vehicle, and law enforcement will request to see it when you’re pulled over or involved in an accident. You may be able to access your auto insurance certificate through your provider’s mobile app if that feature is available.

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Tonya Sisler has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of South Carolina in Journalism and has worked for 15+ years in management. She has also completed a proofreading certification and is currently a professional writer.

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Brad Larson has been in the insurance industry for more than a dozen years. He started out as a claims adjuster for a national carrier. He has since switched to the agency side of the business. Brad is licensed in all P&C lines.

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Reviewed by Brad Larsen
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Oct 27, 2020

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Things to know...

  • All drivers should keep proof of insurance on hand when operating a vehicle
  • Insurance should comply with both state and auto lender requirements, as applicable
  • A copy of your insurance certificate or proof of coverage can be obtained through your provider

When you are pulled over by law enforcement for a moving violation or if you are involved in an accident, you will be required to produce proof of insurance coverage in the form of an insurance certificate.

This is a common document that may also be required when you renew the registration on your vehicle or when you renew your driver’s license.

However, while most drivers are aware that they must have active auto insurance coverage to drive legally, you may not be aware of what an insurance certificate looks like.

If you need to obtain a copy of your insurance certificates, you may be wondering what steps you need to take to get this documentation.

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Car Insurance Requirements


When you buy a new car insurance policy or when your coverage renews, your provider typically will provide you with a copy of your insurance certificate card. This certificate is usually a single sheet of paper that includes the following information:

  • A description of the insured vehicle
  • Dates for active coverage
  • The names of the insured drivers
  • The contact information for the insurance company

Note that this is not a full policy package that details all of the inclusions and exclusions of your coverage.

This more extensive document may also be mailed or emailed to you upon request, but it is not the document that you are required to keep on hand while you operate a vehicle.

Minimum State Requirements

Your insurance card or certificate will not clearly indicate if you are in compliance with your state’s minimum coverage requirements.

State requirements vary by location, but your insurance provider will be able to tell you if your coverage meets minimum legal requirements in your area. Some providers may not issue coverage or certificates if the policy does not comply with state requirements.

Keep in mind that you may face fines, the revocation of your driver’s license, and other penalties if you are caught driving without the proper insurance in place.

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Car Loan Lender Requirements

You also may be required to purchase coverage that complies with your lender’s requirements if you have a car loan.

These requirements also vary, but your provider typically will not ensure compliance with this requirement.

You will need to review these requirements and update your coverage as needed on your own in most cases to avoid defaulting on the terms of your loan.

The Proof of Coverage Requirement

It is not enough for drivers to buy auto insurance that complies with these guidelines. You also may be required to keep proof of coverage on hand at all times while you are behind the wheel.

An insurance certificate or card is the most common type of insurance. Some law enforcement professionals may be able to scan a database to ensure compliance as well, but you should not count on this possibility.

You should only drive when you have a copy of your proof of coverage document in your possession, and this document should show active coverage dates.

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Obtaining a Copy of Your Insurance Certificate


If you do not have a one-sheet document that summarizes your critical insurance details and that announces that it is a proof of insurance document or certificate on the top of it, you may need to request a copy from your provider.

Most providers can immediately email the document to you or may allow you to download the document off of their website. This enables you to quickly and easily get the documentation that you need.

A Great Time to Update Coverage

If you are currently preparing to contact your provider to request a new certificate, it may be a great time to update your coverage as well.

Coverage needs can change over time, and you do not want to be in a position where you are underinsured when you get into an accident. Likewise, you do not want to pay more than necessary for extra coverage that does not offer true benefits.

Updating your coverage requires you to understand what the different common coverage types are, and these are a few of the primary coverage types available:

  • Liability
  • Collision
  • Comprehensive
  • Underinsured or uninsured motorist
  • Personal property
  • Personal injury

The Benefit of Expanding Your Search

You should request an updated premium quote from your provider based on your current coverage needs, but you should not stop there.

Expanding your search to include quotes from a few reputable providers is a great way to identify a potentially lower rate.

When you are requesting quotes, only reach out to established providers that are known for their financial strength and their devotion to customer service.

Finding the Lowest Rates for Your Coverage


Your insurance premium can be a major expense in your budget, but it is necessary to pay the premium if you want to keep your coverage active and gain access to the proof of insurance document you need.

In addition to shopping around for low rates, you can also request a quote for a higher deductible amount if you want to see an immediate reduction in your premium amount.

Money-Saving Discounts

If you want to maximize your savings on your premium expense, it makes sense to explore some of the many discounts that are available through various car insurance companies. Many drivers qualify for multiple discounts that may be related to:

  • Their military service
  • Their occupation
  • Their good grades in school
  • Their retirement status
  • Their great driving record
  • Safety features on their vehicle

Insurance Expiration or Renewal Dates

Updating your coverage should be done periodically. Your proof of insurance document indicates when your current policy will expire or renew, and this is the ideal time to update your coverage and shop for rates.

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Because you need to be aware of the expiration and renewal date to replace your certificate as well, consider setting a reminder in your phone or marking the expiration date in your calendar so that you can update your coverage as needed at the ideal time.

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