Do you need to carry your car insurance certificate?

Fines for driving without your insurance card can range from $150 to $1750. Keep your proof of auto insurance with you to make the most of your coverage.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • Failure to show a valid insurance certificate attracts heavy penalties and fines
  • Ensure your insurance coverage fulfills the requirement of every state to avoid a situation where you are underinsured
  • Carry your insurance card wherever you go even when in a state that does not require you to show one
  • Using a provider’s app can be a great way to manage your car insurance and keep a certificate on your phone

In the United States, the law requires that you must have car insurance if you drive or own a vehicle.

In most of the states in the country, you are required to show your valid driving license, insurance certificate, and MOT certificates upon request.

Therefore, you may need to carry them wherever you go. Some states have embraced the use of electronic reporting rules that allow motorists to prove their liability coverage electronically.

Don’t get caught without insurance, and make sure you’re paying a fair price for the coverage you need. Compare auto insurance quotes today!

Importance of Carrying Your Auto Insurance Certificate


The police may stop you and demand to have a car insurance certificate, and if you do not have it with you, the police may require you to produce it in the next seven days at a police station.

It can also lead to fines, suspended licenses, and court summons. However, your attitude greatly influences how the police handle the situation.

Proof of insurance is important because of the following reasons:

  • It helps the police pull the uninsured cars off the road.
  • It helps the drivers cover all the third party liability claims in the case of an accident.
  • Insurance card assists in filing a claim as soon as the accident happens since it has all the information required at the back.
  • Car insurance protects individuals against losses that occur during accidents as well as theft.

The insurance companies provide the insurance cards, and they will always provide an additional copy of the auto insurance policy should you misplace yours.

Other insurers also allow access to online accounts on their website to allow easy means of verifying car insurance.

The motor vehicle departments in different states have made it a requirement for the insurance companies to notify them whenever cancellation or failure to renew a driver’s license is made.

State authorities also set a minimum threshold of the auto insurance coverage that everyone should have.

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Free Auto Insurance Comparison

Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap auto insurance rates.

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Digital Proof of Insurance

With the latest technological advancement, the insurance companies are moving to the digital version in some states. Drivers should check whether their respective states accept the digital proof of insurance before they settle for one.

The insurance card should have the following features:

  • The owner’s name and address
  • VIN
  • Name of the insurance company
  • Type of policy
  • Vehicle year of manufacture and the model
  • The dates the insurance coverage is effective and its expiration date
  • Any other insured parties and their names

Various Types of Insurance Coverage


Forgetting to carry the insurance card is one thing while not having the proper insurance plan is another. It is even a capital offense if you do not have insurance coverage at all.

Underinsured and uninsured drivers cause a lot of damage every year leaving a trail of victims and losses that they do not care to compensate. Different states may require you to have different coverage types and amounts for you to drive. Some of them include:

  • Bodily Injury Insurance – This pays for the third party’s injuries caused by an insured party. It’s the minimum amount of insurance required by most states.
  • Comprehensive – This covers for other damages other than the collision with other vehicles. They may include fires, natural disasters, hitting wildlife, and theft, among others.
  • Collision – The insurance companies cover for accidents with other vehicles. In this insurance policy as well as the comprehensive one, you can choose the deductible and policy limits.
  • Property Liability – This insurance policy covers the payment for the damage to other people’s property including vehicles, light posts, houses, and other structures. Remember that this insurance cover does not cover for insured property or vehicles.
  • Rental Car – This policy is ideal when you are waiting for the repair or evaluation of your vehicle. The insurance policy pays for a rental car for use until your vehicle is ready for use.
  • Med Pay – This pays compensation for treatment of up to $5,000. It may be a legal requirement and varies from one state to another.

It is important to carry your insurance card in your wallet or car even when the officers don’t ask for it. People have in the past complained that carrying one poses a security threat in case the car gets stolen but some companies have started providing electronics proofs.

Remember that one must produce an original and valid car insurance certificate and not duplicates.

Additionally, it is important to check on the types of coverage and policies to ensure that they are legal and protective should an accident happen.

Get the car insurance coverage you need today! Compare rates by using our FREE tool.

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