How do I find out if a car has auto insurance? (How to check vehicle insurance)

To find out if a car has insurance, you'll need information like the VIN, license plate number, or driver's license number of the owner. Your state DMV may be able to help do a car insurance lookup, or you may be able to find out if you have insurance by visiting your insurance company online. Verify auto insurance coverage 100% by buying a new policy if you suspect you are not covered anymore.

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Mathew B. Sims is Editor-in-Chief and has authored, edited, and contributed to several books. He has been working in the insurance industry ensuring content is accurate for consumers who are searching for the best policies and rates...

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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...

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Reviewed byDaniel Walker
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UPDATED: Jul 10, 2020

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Things to Remember
Summary DetailsFrom Experts...
The average number of uninsured drivers in the United States is 13%Insurance Information Institute
If you're involved in a car accident, one of the first steps is to file an accident report with the police.Insurance Information Institute
The driver’s license number and address of the driver could also be useful in determining if the vehicle has auto insurance coverage.Insurance Information Institute
When trying to find out if a vehicle has auto insurance coverage, the more information you have the better.Insurance Information Institute
Ask for the other driver’s proof of insurance and jot down the license plate number.Insurance Information Institute
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How do I find out if a car has auto insurance coverage? If you find yourself in a situation where you need to know if a car has insurance who the insurer is — maybe you’ve forgotten who your insurer is or you were the victim of a hit and run — don’t worry. Here’s how to find out if someone has auto insurance coverage.

While the information you find depends on the laws of the state you live in and how much information they’re able to disclose, this guide will walk you through how to find out someone’s car insurance company.

Need to find auto insurance for your own vehicle? Whether you need to look up someone else’s insurance or learn how to check vehicle insurance details by plate, VIN, or driver’s license, be sure that you don’t go without state required auto insurance coverage. Almost every state requires car insurance, but 13% of U.S. drivers are uninsured. Start your search for the best auto insurance rates by entering your ZIP code in our free tool above.

Table of Contents

How to Find Out if a Car Has Auto Insurance

It’s the law in most places that you must have auto insurance, but as you probably know, not everyone follows the law. And this particular law might not seem like a big deal until it affects you. If you’re in an accident with a driver who doesn’t have auto insurance, you’ll have to go to your own insurance company to cover the damages. This is why most people are interested in how to find out what insurance someone has.

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), in 2015, an average of 13 percent of motorists were uninsured across the U.S. Here’s a look at the states with the highest percentage of uninsured motorists.

Highest Percentage of Uninsured Motorists
RankStatePercent Uninsured
1Florida26.70%
2Mississippi23.7%
3New Mexico20.8%
4Michigan20.3%
5Tennessee20%
6Alabama18.4%
7Washington17.4%
8Indiana16.7%
9Arkansas16.6%
10D.C.15.6%
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And in this table, a look at the states with the lowest percentage.

Lowest Percentage of Uninsured Motorists
RankStatePercent Uninsured
1Maine4.50%
2New York6.1%
3Massachusetts6.2%
4North Carolina6.5%
5Vermont6.8%
6Nebraska6.8%
7North Dakota6.8%
8Kansas7.2%
9Pennsylvania7.6%
10South Dakota7.7%
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In order to be covered by your insurance company if you’re in an accident with an at-fault driver who doesn’t have auto insurance, it’s essential that you purchase uninsured motorist coverage. But this is just a worst-case scenario; the person may, in fact, have a car that is insured.

But before delving too deeply into the details of how to find out if a car is insured, we’re going to look at why you might need to know this in the first place, because it’s not always so simple to find out someone’s insurance information.

When might I need to know if a car is insured?

While one of the most common situations in which you may need to know whether a car is insured is when you’re involved in an accident, there are several other situations that might require you to verify insurance status, like the following:

  • If you’re borrowing a friend’s car and you don’t have your own insurance.
  • If you’re in the midst of a divorce and want to make sure that your spouse is keeping the coverage active on a car that’s registered in both your names.
  • If you own a small business and have employees that drive their own cars for their jobs.
  • If you’re an administrator at a school and need proof of insurance for parents to drive for field trips.

In some of these situations, you may have a vested interest in the car, so finding out the insurance status is to your benefit.

Another reason you may need to find out a car’s insurer is that auto insurance is required by law in most places whenever you drive. You’re not the only person who can be affected by a driver without insurance in an accident.

If you know someone is driving around uninsured, it’s your responsibility as a driver and a citizen to alert the proper authorities. Without coverage, they could cause an accident that ends up costing someone else a lot of money.

How do I find out if a car is insured?

The most important tool to have when you’re trying to determine whether a vehicle has auto insurance is the car’s information. The more information you have, the better. Learn all you can about the vehicle and carefully observe its details. The most common method is to check car insurance by VIN number (vehicle identification number) or look up car insurance by license plate.

If you can’t find an insurance company by VIN number, how can you look up someone’s car insurance? The driver’s license number and the driver’s address can be just as useful in determining if the vehicle has auto insurance coverage.

There is no single motor insurance database for the USA (unlike in other places, like the UK). Instead, you’ll need to look at the state level.

If you can’t get the information yourself, it’s wise to contact your state’s department of motor vehicles (DMV), which is also known in some states as the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) or Motor Vehicle Division (MVD). If the state department is allowed to give you this information, they will provide you with the necessary forms.

Don’t have time to visit the DMV in person? No worries. You can visit your state’s DMV website to see if the forms are available online.

Don’t know where to find your state’s DMV information? The California DMV conveniently lists all of the various state DMV websites in one place. This is a good place to start whether you’re wondering how to find out if someone has car insurance in California or trying to check car insurance status in Texas. You can also check the status of another person’s insurance there if you have the correct information. The other way to go about this is through your Secretary of State’s office.

All you have to do is call the office or go there in person to get information about insurance. You can also check your own policy, as it’s always good to make sure you’re covered.

In fact, some Secretary of State offices are so on top of your insurance that they’ll even let you know if your policy is up to date (Texas is a state in which you can do this). As the old saying goes, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially because driving without auto insurance can have legal and financial consequences for you, and can also cause major problems for other people if you get into an accident.

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Info on the Other Driver’s Auto Insurance After an Accident

If you’re in an accident, it’s vital to collect the other driver’s insurance information, since there’s a good chance you’re going to need that when filing a claim with your own insurer.  We’ve talked about a couple of ways to find out if a vehicle is insured. Watch this video to learn a bit more about this process.

The video has some very helpful tips and ideas that we’ll examine later in this article; these include contacting the police, going to your local DMV (which we’ve already discussed), and getting information about the necessary documents of the other driver.

Stick with us to learn what to do after an accident to protect your assets.

What should I do after an auto accident?

If you are involved in a car accident, one of the the first steps is to file an accident report with the police. The officer should provide you with a report number that you can give to your insurance company. The insurance company will then investigate the accident to determine who was at fault. If the other driver was at-fault, information on insurance will be obtained through the police station.

In most cases, you should not have to do any of your own investigating to find out if another driver has auto insurance. However, it’s still a good idea to exchange information with the other driver when you’re involved in an accident. Always ask for the other driver’s proof of insurance and jot down their license plate number.

Having the other driver’s license number and insurance information will allow you to check with the auto insurance company directly if you need to verify an active auto insurance policy. This is also something you can provide to your insurance company, as it may speed up the processing of your claim.

Should I ask the other driver if their car is insured?

While it never hurts to ask this question, you should keep in mind that the person may lie to you about having coverage. In addition to asking about whether or not their car is insured, it’s probably wise to get this information, too:

  • The driver’s name and address
  • The driver’s insurance company name and information about their policy
  • Witness statements and contact information — this is very important

Additionally, it’s always a good idea to get pictures of the accident so  you have visual proof of what damage was caused. This is especially important if the damage could be used as proof that you were not at fault.

How will I know if the auto insurance is current and active?

Of course, the person’s insurance coverage also needs to be active for it to do you any good. They might show you their insurance information, but how can you tell if the policy is current? Ideally, you should have the person call the insurance company in front of you to verify that the insurance is active.

The driver’s information is protected by the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (check the FAQ section at the bottom of this post for more information), but you are absolutely allowed to ask for insurance information from the state motor vehicles agency if you were involved in an accident with a vehicle.

You can also always call the police, and they will be able to help you verify whether or not an insurance policy is active. We’ll discuss how you can get the police to help you with this and other insurance-related issues later on in this article. It’s also important to know that these methods of verifying whether someone has active insurance do not only apply to accidents.

Will I have to provide proof of ownership after an accident?

Sometimes, but not always. In some cases, you may not be listed on the policy, so you’ll need to provide proof of ownership of the car. This is because of the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act, which we’ll talk more about later.

If you need to prove your ownership of a car, you can use any of the documents below:

  1. Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin: The Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin (MCO), also sometimes called the Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin (MSO), usually comes with a brand-new vehicle to prove it was manufactured by the car company. If you’ve held onto this, you can use it to prove your ownership of the vehicle.
  2. Letter of Release From Lienholder: A letter of release is sent to you by the bank or the finance company once a car is completely paid off and registered solely in your name, and it proves you own the car.
  3. Bill of Sale and the Registration Certificate: This can prove your ownership because it shows that a transaction occurred and that the vehicle now belongs to you.
  4. DMV Paperwork and Proof of a Certified Letter Sent to the Seller: Lastly, you can prove your ownership of the vehicle by filling out some paperwork from the DMV. The paperwork will ask for details about the origin of the vehicle, its mileage, the history of the vehicle, and the last transaction that was made between you and the previous owner.

For the DMV paperwork, you may also need valid and recorded attempts to contact the previous owner and ask for the title of the vehicle. If you follow these procedures and present the letters to the DMV, you may be able to prove ownership, even without the title.

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What should I do if the accident was a hit and run?

Hit and run accidents are stressful. When it happens, you may be in shock or confused and unsure of exactly what you need to do. Watch the video below in which a police officer from Florida provides advice on what steps you should take.

If you’re involved in a hit and run accident, obtain the vehicle’s license plate number if possible. Then, go to your local police agency to file a report and check if car is insured by the license plate number.

Even if you don’t have the license plate number, you’ll still want to file a report so the police can investigate and try to determine who is responsible for any damage to your vehicle.

Your insurance agency may require you to file a report in the event of a hit and run incident. If you did manage to obtain the license plate number, then the police should be able to direct you through the next steps in the process.

The next step is likely to contact your DMV with the license plate number and police report.

With this information, you’ll be able to fill out the necessary forms to determine if the car has an active auto insurance policy. You may want to contact your insurance company for guidance as well. The purpose of finding out the insurance information for the other party is to avoid having to file a claim with your insurance company.

When you file a claim, you run the risk of having your insurance rates raised when the policy is renewed. The insurance company doesn’t want you to file a claim any more than you do. Why? They are responsible for paying any costs for legitimate claims. If there’s a way to avoid filing a claim, your agent should provide you with that information.

What should I do if the DMV can’t provide me with the other driver’s insurance information?

The only instance in which you should need to obtain this information yourself is in the event of a hit and run. The police station will be able to guide you to the next step of the process. If the DMV is not the correct agency to contact regarding the insurance information, the police station should know which agency is. If all else fails, the DMV may be able to guide you to the correct agency to obtain this information.

In the event of a hit and run, what is the most important piece of information you need to obtain?

As previously mentioned, if a hit and run occurs and you are unable to exchange information with the driver, the best thing you can do is to get the vehicle’s license plate number. You may be able to figure out the car’s insurance status with this information alone.

If you get to the stage in which you have to figure out another driver’s auto insurance info on your own, make sure to contact your local DMV for further information.

The Bottom Line on Auto Insurance Lookup

Now that you know how to find information on auto insurance coverage for other drivers, what’s the bottom line?

  • If you don’t know whether other drivers have an active insurance policy (whether its because you’re an employer, you’re in an accident, or the other reasons we discussed), you have some options for how to find that information
  • Always make sure you have the auto insurance coverage you need (work with a licensed insurer to purchase the right coverage for your location, lifestyle, and needs)
  • If you are in an accident, make sure to obtain all the information you can from the other driver, to ease the claims process

FAQ

If you still have questions about the process of finding out information about a car’s insurer, this section is for you. Let’s break it all down.

How can I make sure a car I have a vested interest in is insured?

Are you in a situation where you need to know if your estranged spouse is keeping coverage on the car? Well, you can go about this in a way that’s actually pretty painless. According to FindLaw, because you have an insurable interest in the car, you can call the insurance company directly and ask them if it’s insured.

But what is insurable interest? Well, it’s basically when any damage to the entity — in this case, a vehicle — would cause you a financial loss. Because the damage affects you directly, you have the right to make sure that the car you have a vested interest in is insured.

What is the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act?

We mentioned the Driver’s Privacy and Protection Act earlier. What exactly is it and how does it pertain to auto insurance coverage information? The Driver’s Privacy and Protection Act protects drivers’ privacy by limiting who can access personal information assembled by the State Department of Motor Vehicles.

It was created in 1989 after there was a series of abuses involving drivers’ personal information held by the government. In fact, people were put in harm’s way because it was so easy to obtain home addresses from the DMV.

This act prohibits any State DMV, officer, employee, or contractor from using personal information about an individual received by the department in connection to a motor vehicle record. The act has penalties for violations, and the individual whose information was released can take civil action against the violator.

Additionally, there was a recent amendment to the act that requires states to get permission from individuals before their personal motor vehicle records can be sold or released to third-party marketers.

What insurance information will I need if I’m in an accident?

If you’re involved in an accident, the priorities are to check yourself for injuries, check passengers for injuries, and then to get to safety. After all of this is completed and you’ve called 911, it is imperative that you exchange information with the other driver, regardless of whose fault the accident was. You’ll need to give and receive the following information:

  • A full name and all the necessary contact information
  • The insurance company and its policy number
  • A driver’s license and the car’s license plate number
  • The type, colors, and model of the other person’s vehicle
  • Where the accident took place

It is essential that this information is exchanged in order to make the insurance companies’ processes happen as smoothly as possible. And, in addition to always exchanging information, always contact the police, even if it’s just a minor fender bender.

What coverage do I need if the other driver is uninsured?

If another driver has given you the runaround after an accident they caused and you find out they don’t have insurance, you’re probably wondering where that leaves you. Court bills can be expensive if you sue them, or you may never even see the other driver that hit your car in the parking lot.

In cases like these, the best coverage option is uninsured motorist coverage. If you have this coverage, your insurer will cover the costs of repairs to your vehicle if you were the victim of a hit and run or the other driver doesn’t have insurance.

We’ve now reached the end of our guide on how to find insurance information for a car. We this helped you with your detective work. If you’d like to find insurance for yourself, you can use our free rate tool below. Just enter your ZIP code to get started.

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How can I check if my car insurance is still valid?

Is your insurance is still valid? Did you know most auto insurers allow you to check the status of your insurance policy online?

  • Check your online insurance account or call your current agent to see if you still have valid car insurance
  • Validating a policy is a central component of managing your car insurance
  • Look for your most current insurance cards in your purse, wallet and glove box
  • If you are borrowing a car, as the owner of the car if it is insured
  • If you do not own a car, you can purchase non-owners car insurance by using a comparison tool
  • If you do own a vehicle, use a comparison tool to purchase a new standard policy

If you can’t remember the last time you paid your car insurance bill or received a notification from your car insurance company, you may be wondering if your car insurance is still valid.

To check, you can call your current insurance agent or view your online account.

If you can’t remember the details for your online account or the name of your agent, you can always look for your last insurance statement or check your bank account for recent car insurance drafts.

If you find a cancellation letter or a letter indicating that your car insurance expired, you can quickly purchase a new policy by using an insurance comparison tool.

Insurance is required in order to drive legally. If you do not know if your car insurance is valid or current, you should not drive a car until you find out.

Driving without insurance can result in stiff penalties and fines. If you get pulled over by police for driving without insurance, your car could be impounded.

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Find Out if You Have Car Insurance Before You Drive

It is absolutely imperative that you find out if you have car insurance before you get behind the steering wheel of a vehicle.

Thankfully, there are several ways to find out in you have a valid insurance policy:

  • Sort Through the Papers  If you are like most drivers, you received your new policy cards and stashed one in your glove box along with your car’s registration and put the other card in your purse or wallet. Open your glove box and sort through your papers. If you don’t find your insurance card in your glove box, check your wallet or purse
  • Contact Your Insurance Company You can call the insurance company you’ve most recently done business with and ask them to verify that you have existing coverage. They will most likely need your driver’s license number and address. Once you’ve given them the necessary information, they should be able to tell you whether you have a valid policy
  • Get a CLUE Report – CLUE stands for Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange. This service is provided for free and various states, like Washington, offer information and advice about obtaining a CLUE report. If filling out the paperwork for a CLUE report seems daunting, you can request a car insurance quote by using a comparison tool
  • Ask the Owner of the Vehicle If you are borrowing a car from a family member or friend, you can simply ask them if the car is insured and who is considered insured while driving the vehicle. You may even want to ask to look at their insurance cards and insurance policy. If the owner of the car refuses, you can get a non-owner car insurance policy

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Non-Owner Car Insurance

Not owning a car does not exempt you from the responsibility of driving with insurance.

You will need an insurance policy every time you borrow a car in order to drive legally.

For instances such as these, there is non-owner car insurance.

Non-owner car insurance follows the driver instead of the car. To find a non-owner car insurance policy, you can use an insurance comparison tool.

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Getting a New Car Insurance Policy

If you own a vehicle and find out that your car insurance policy lapsed, expired or was canceled, you will need to purchase a new policy as soon as possible.

Thankfully, a comparison tool can help you quickly find and sort through various insurance policies and carriers.

Once you choose the policy that best fits you and your driving habits, you can usually purchase it online.

Regardless of how you determine if you have valid insurance, you cannot drive a vehicle legally without it.

You must either find your valid insurance cards or check with your insurance carrier, local DMV or insurance website for your particular state or purchase a new policy by utilizing an auto insurance comparison tool.

Enter your ZIP code into our FREE comparison tool below to compare rates from multiple providers!

I Forgot Who My Car Insurance is With, What do I do?

Need to know who your auto insurance provider is? Your insurance card will have your auto insurance information, including your auto insurance company.

  • It is important to know the company that handles your car insurance coverage even if you have not had a car accident
  • You should be able to tell from your billing statements which company you have for your auto insurance coverage
  • It goes without saying that knowing your auto insurance company is a core component of managing your car insurance policy
  • If you have lost your copy of your proof of insurance card, it is free and easy to request that another one be mailed to you from your auto insurance provider
  • If you cannot locate copies of your bills for your car insurance premium, then you could check your bank records to find the name of the company that you have been paying for auto insurance coverage
  • If you have not been making regular payments on your auto insurance premium, then there is a good chance that you do not have current coverage and need to find insurance quickly

While you hopefully do not have to interact with your auto insurance provider on a frequent basis, it is important to know which company is providing your coverage.

The reason you should know who your provider is is that you are legally required to have car insurance coverage if you are getting behind the wheel on a public road or have a vehicle that is officially registered with your state department of motor vehicles.

If you do not have paperwork that you can find from your auto insurance company, then there are a few easy ways that you can at least find out which company provides your car insurance coverage.

Take some time to compare auto insurance quotes to make sure you’re not overpaying for coverage.

Always Keep Your Proof of Insurance Card With You

The best source for current information about your auto insurance policy is your proof of insurance card.

This card is always issued by the insurance provider because you may need to show it to a police officer if you are pulled over while driving or if you are involved in an auto accident.

You will only get a proof of insurance card issued if you have signed up for auto insurance, received a price for your premium, and paid at least a portion of your premium.

Some people choose to keep this card in their car at all times. Others put it in their wallet because it is a way to make sure that you always have proof of insurance even when you are driving someone else’s car.

If you can’t find yours in any of the familiar places where you might have stored it, it is time to ask the auto insurance company to issue you another one.

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Look at Your Past Auto Insurance Bills

Here’s a list of places to find your insurance company:

  • Mail statement
  • Payment record
  • Email messages

If you pay your auto insurance premium by check in the mail, then you are almost certainly sent a statement of when your bill is due.

The paper statement will obviously include the name of your auto insurance company along with contact information on how to ask any questions about your policy or coverage.

If you do not keep copies of your insurance bills, then you might be able to find the name of the company that you paid by looking through your previous bank statements.

It is very rare to ever make a car insurance payment in cash, so you will most likely have a payment record somewhere in your banking files.

If you have signed up for electronic billing with your auto insurance provider, a quick search of your email may be able to turn up the name of the company.

You may also have electronic copies of billing statements as well as your important policy documents in your email messages.

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Check to Make Sure Your Insurance is Current

Just because you previously had auto insurance coverage with a certain company does not necessarily mean that your car insurance coverage is still current.

To make sure your coverage is current, you should immediately call the company after finding the potential name of your auto insurance provider. Ask for the effective dates of your policy. You should also make sure that you do not have any unpaid bills.

If you find out that you are past due on your premium payments, you need to make arrangements to catch up immediately. In some states, you can be fined by the department of motor vehicles for each day that you do not have valid auto insurance coverage.

Another reason that you need to verify that you have valid auto insurance coverage is that you could be involved in an auto accident any time that you get behind the wheel.

In just one accident involving another driver or pedestrian, you could be responsible for a significant amount of damage, which would have to be paid out of your own bank account without valid auto insurance coverage in place at the time of the accident.

Steps to Take if You Do Not Have Current Auto Insurance Coverage

You may discover in your search to find your current auto insurance provider that your insurance is not up to date.

If your coverage has lapsed, you need to take quick action to make sure that you are not left paying expensive fines or in jeopardy of having your driver’s license suspended.

The sooner you make arrangements to get your auto insurance coverage reinstated or find different coverage, the lower your risk of being involved in an accident without coverage.

Before you decide to go with any particular auto insurance company for your coverage, it is best to shop around online to compare the available rates. They will vary by area, which is why it is important to be accurate with your zip quote when requesting various quotes online.

After you find affordable options, you can reach out to those companies to find out how they can take care of your car insurance coverage needs.

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Some Final Thoughts on Finding Out Who Your Auto Insurance Provider Is

If you are not sure which company provides your auto insurance coverage, it is a good thing to find out quickly. This information is important to have in the event of an accident or if you need to buy or register a new car.

If you do not have a copy of your proof of insurance card, you may be able to find out the name of the company from your previous insurance statements.

You could try searching your emails or bank records to see if there is a record of which company that you addressed your premium payments to. If you do not have coverage, you should get it quickly.

Find insurance today by comparing rate quotes using our free quote tool.

How do I check when my auto insurance is due?

The best way to check your auto insurance due date is to contact your provider or agent. Auto insurance policies are usually six months with the option for paid in full or monthly payments.

  • Managing your car insurance policy online or with an app can help determine when premiums need to be paid
  • The auto insurance expiration date is either once every six months or once every year
  • When the policy is up for renewal, the company will review information on the policy and assess the risk to calculate new premiums based on the company’s most current rate filing
  • If you have a grace period, your coverage will typically stay active for up to 30 days after the payment due date has passed

When you buy auto insurance, your insurance carrier will bill you in advance for the coverage that it provides. As long as you pay your premiums on time, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your coverage protects you.

Unfortunately, paying a few days late could end up in policy termination. If you’re not sure how to check your auto insurance due date, we’ve gathered what you need to know.

When your policy is coming to an end, It’s a great time to start comparison shopping to make sure you have the right coverage at the right price. Enter your ZIP code in our FREE tool to get started today!

Auto Insurance Policy Expiration and Due Date

Each policy is only good for so long. Generally, auto insurance policies last for six or 12 months. The length of the policy will depend on the insurer. If you don’t renew your policy or change companies before your auto insurance policy expires, it can lead to fines, damages not being covered, and higher rates when you do get another policy.

How do I check when my auto insurance is due?

You can check on your due date several ways: check your declaration page, check the insurance card provided by your company, or call, email, or write your company. Easy as that.

How can I check my auto insurance expiration date?

There are many different ways to find out when your policy expires. Some of the easiest ones are:

  • Check the paper insurance cards in your vehicle
  • Check the policy itself
  • Call your agent
  • Look online at your coverage

With so many ways to access your policy, you should know how to check if an insurance policy is valid. Sometimes you can also verify car insurance by VIN with an insurance lookup, but typically the best bet is to call your insurance company or agent directly and have them do a car insurance lookup for you!

Knowing how to find your car insurance policy number online will save you time. It will also lead you to all of your policy details, including the expiration date.

What happens if my auto insurance expires?

Driving without insurance is not a reasonable option. When it comes to the government, car insurance is a requirement. Most states require a driver to carry insurance but the coverage amount varies by state.

Most law enforcement can check if a car is insured by plate number and know how to find out if a vehicle has insurance. There are stiff penalties for driving uninsured.

Let’s look at just what happens if you drive with no auto insurance. Use the search box below to find your state.

Penalties for Driving Without Auto Insurance by State
STATEFIRST OFFENSESECOND OFFENSE
AlabamaFine: Up to $500; registration suspension with $200 reinstatement feeFine: Up to $1,000 and/or six-month license suspension; $400 reinstatement fee with four-month registration suspension
AlaskaLicense suspension for 90 daysLicense suspension for one year
ArizonaFine: $500 (or more); license/registration/license plate suspension for three monthsFine: $750 (or more within 36 months); license/registration/license plate suspension for six months
ArkansasFine: $50 to $250; suspended registration/no plates until proof of coverage plus $20 reinstatement fee; court may order impoundmentFine: $250 to $500 fine — minimum fine mandatory; suspended registration/no plates until proof of coverage plus $20 reinstatement fee. Court may order impoundment
CaliforniaFine: $100-$200 plus penalty assessments. Court may order impoundmentFine: $200-$500 within three years plus penalty assessments. Court may order impoundment
ColoradoFine: $500 minimum fine; 4 points against your license; license suspension until you can show proof to the DMV that you are insured. Courts may add up to 40 hours community service$1,000 minimum fine and license suspension for 4 months; 4 points against your license. Courts may add up to 40 hours community service
ConnecticutFine: $100-$1000; suspended registration/license for one month (show proof of insurance) with $175 reinstatement feeFine: $100-$1000; suspended registration/license for six months (show proof of insurance) with $175 reinstatement fee
DelawareFine: $1500 minimum fine; license/privilege suspension for six monthsFine: $3000 minimum fine within three years; license/privilege suspension for six months
FloridaSuspension of license and registration until reinstatement fee is paid and non-cancelable coverage is secured; $150 fee for first reinstatementSuspension of license and registration until reinstatement fee is paid and non-cancelable coverage is secured; $250 fee for second reinstatement
GeorgiaSuspended registration with $25 lapse fee and $60 reinstatement fee. Pay any other registration fees and vehicle ad valorem taxes dueWithin a 5 years: Suspended registration with $25 lapse fee and $60 reinstatement fee. Pay any other registration fees and vehicle ad valorem taxes due
HawaiiFine: $500 fine or community service granted by judge. Either license suspension for three months or a required nonrefundable insurance policy in force for six monthsFine: $1500 minimum fine within five years; either license suspension for one year or a required non-refundable insurance policy in force for six months
IdahoFine: $75; license suspension until financial proof. No reinstatement fee.Fine: $1000 maximum fine within five years and/or no more than six months in jail; license suspension until financial proof. No reinstatement fee.
IllinoisLicense plate suspension until $100 reinstatement fee and insurance proofLicense plate suspension for four months; $100 reinstatement fee and insurance proof
IndianaLicense/registration suspension for 90 days to one yearWithin three years: license/registration suspension for one year
IowaFine: $500 if in accident; Otherwise, fine: $250; community service in lieu of fine. Possible citation/warning if pulled over plus removal of plates and registration possible when pulled over without insurance and reissued upon payment of fine or completed community service, proof of insurance, and $15 fee; possible impoundment when pulled overN/A
KansasFine: $300 to $1000 and/or confinement in jail up to six months; license/registration suspension; reinstatement fee: $100Fine: $800 to $2500 within three years; license/registration suspension; reinstatement fee: $300 if revoked within previous year, otherwise $100
KentuckyFine: $500 to $1000 fine and/or sentenced up to 90 days in jail; license plates and registration revoked for one year or until proof of insurance is shownWithin five years: 180 days in jail and/or $1000 to $2500; license plates and registration revoked for one year or until proof of insurance is shown
LouisianaFine: $500 to $1000; If in car accident, fine plus registration revoked and driving privileges suspended for 180 daysN/A
MaineFine: $100 to $500; suspension of license and registration until proof of insuranceN/A
MarylandLose license plates and vehicle registration privileges; pay uninsured motorist penalty fees for each lapse of insurance — $150 for the first 30 days, $7 for each day thereafter; Pay a restoration fee of up to $25 for a vehicle's registrationN/A
MassachusettsFine: $500 to $5000 fine and/or imprisonment for one year or lessWithin six years: License/driving privileges suspended for one year
MichiganFine: $200 to $500 fine and/or imprisonment for one year or less; license suspension for 30 days or until proof of insurance; $25 service fee to Secretary of StateN/A
MinnesotaFine: $200 to $1000 (or community service) and/or imprisonment for up to 90 days; License and registration revoked for no more than 12 monthsN/A
MississippiFine: $1000; driving privileges suspended for one year or until proof of insuranceN/A
MissouriFour points against driving record; driver may be supervised; suspended until proof of insurance with $20 reinstatement feeFour points against driving record; driver may be supervised; suspended for 90 days with $200 reinstatement fee
MontanaFine: $250 to $500 fine and/or imprisonment for no more than 10 daysFine: $350 and/or imprisonment for no more than 10 days — within 5 years; license and registration revoked until proof of insurance and payment of reinstatement fees within 90 days
NebraskaLicense and registration suspension; reinstatement fee of $50 for each; proof of insurance to remain on file for three years
NevadaFine: $250 to $1,000 depending on length of lapse; registration suspension — until payment of reinstatement fee and, depending on circumstances, an SR-22 (proof of financial responsiblity) if lapsed more than 90 days; reinstatement fee: $250Fine: $500 to $1000 depending on length of lapse; registration suspension — until payment of reinstatement fee and, depending on circumstances, SR-22 (proof of financial responsibility) if lapsed more than 90 days; Reinstatement fee: $500
New HampshireNot a mandatory insurance state. Proof of insurance may be required as the result of a conviction, crash involvement, or administrative action. If you are required to file proof of insurance and vehicles are registered in your name, you will be required to file an Owner’s SR-22 Certificate of Insurance.N/A
New JerseyFine: $300 to $1000; license suspension for one year; pay surcharges for three years in the amount of $250 per yearFine: up to $5000; two-year license suspension; 14-day, mandatory jail term, and an additional mandatory 30 days of community service
New MexicoFine: up to $300 and/or imprisoned for 90 days; license suspensionN/A
New YorkFine: up to $1500 if involved in accident plus $750 civil penalty; license and registration suspension – revoked for one year; suspension of license if without insurance for 90 days; suspension lasts as long as registration suspension; Suspension of registration: equal to time without insurance or pays $8/day up to thirty days for which financial security was not in effect, $10/day from the thirty-first to the sixtieth day $12/day from the sixtieth to the ninetieth day and proof of security is provided. Or for the same time as the vehicle was operated without insurance.N/A
North CarolinaFine: $50; registration suspension until proof of financial responsibility but 30-day suspension if in car accident or knowingly driving without insurance; $50 restoration fee plus license plate feeFine: $100 within three years; registration suspension until proof of financial responsibility but 30-day suspension if in car accident or knowingly driving without insurance; $50 restoration fee plus license plate fee
North DakotaFine: up to $1500 and/or 30 days in prison; 14 points against license plus suspension; Proof of insurance must be provided for one year; license with a notation requiring that person keep proof of liability insurance on file with the department. The fee for this license is $50, and the fee to remove this notation is $50.Fine: up to $1500 and/or 30 days in prison; 14 points against license plus suspension; license plates impounded until proof of insurance (provided for one year) plus $20 reinstatement fee; license with a notation requiring that person keep proof of liability insurance on file with the department. The fee for this license is $50 and the fee to remove this notation is $50.
OhioLicense/plates/registration suspension until requirements are met and $100 reinstatement fee is paid; maintain special high-risk coverage on file with the BMV for three to five years; If involved in accident without insurance: all above penalties and a security suspension for two plus years and an indefinite judgment suspension (until all damages are satisfied)License/plates/registration suspension for one year; $300 reinstatement fee; maintain special high-risk coverage on file with the BMV for three or five years; if involved in accident without insurance: all above penalties and a security suspension for two plus years and an indefinite judgment suspension (until all damages are satisfied)
OklahomaFine: $250; jail time up to 30 days; license suspension with $275 reinstatement fee. Police can seize license plates and assign temporary plates and liability insurance — in effect for 10 days and can also impound the vehicle. The cost of the temporary coverage is added to the administrative fee and any fines paid for plates to be returned. If car impounded, owner must also pay towing and storage fees.N/A
OregonFine: $130-$1000 ($260 is the presumptive fine); If involved in accident — at least a one year license suspension; proof of financial responsibility required for three yearsN/A
PennsylvaniaRegistration suspended for three months (unless lapse was for less than 31 days and vehicle not operated during that time); $88 restoration fee plus proof of insurance required to get it back; $500 civil penalty fee is optional in lieu of registration suspension plus $88 restoration fee — can only use this option once within a 12-month periodN/A
Rhode IslandFine: $100 to $500; license and registration suspension up to three months; reinstatement fee: $30 to $50Fine: $500; license and registration suspension up to six months; reinstatement fee: $30 to $50
South CarolinaFine: $100-$200 or 30-day imprisonment; failure to surrender registration and plates when insurance lapses; license/registration suspended until proof of insurance plus $200 reinstatement feeFine: $200 and/or 30-day imprisonment — within 10 years; license/registration suspended until proof of insurance plus $200 reinstatement fee
South DakotaFine: $100 and/or 30 days imprisonment; license suspension for 30 days to one year; filing proof of insurance (SR-22) with the state for three years from date of conviction. Failure to file proof will result in suspension of vehicle registration, license plates, and driver license.N/A
TennesseePay $25 coverage failure fee within 30 days of notice; if not paid, then an additional $100 coverage failure fee with suspension or revocation of registration plus reinstatement fee of no more than $25N/A
TexasFine: $175 to $350 fine; plus, pay up to a $250 surcharge every year for three years (may be reduced with certain requirements)Fine: $350 to $1000; pay up to a $250 surcharge every year for three years (may be reduced with certain requirements); suspend the driver's license and vehicle registrations of the person unless the person files and maintains evidence of financial responsibility with the department until the second anniversary of the date of the subsequent conviction; Impoundment: for 180 days and cannot apply for release of car without evidence of financial responsibility and impoundment fee of $15/day.
UtahFine: $400; license suspension until proof of insurance (maintained for three years) and $100 reinstatement feeFine: $1000 — with three years; license suspension until proof of insurance (maintained for three years) and $100 reinstatement fee
VermontFine: up to $500; license suspended until proof of insuranceN/A
VirginiaFine: may pay $500 Uninsured Motorists Vehicle fee to drive without insurance at your own risk. If this fee is not paid in lieu of insurance, all driving and vehicle registration privileges will be suspended until a $500 statutory fee is paid, proof of insurance is filed for three years, and a reinstatement fee (if applicable) is paidN/A
WashingtonFine: Up to $250 or moreN/A
West VirginiaFine: $200 to $5000; license suspended for 30 days with reinstatement fees, unless there's proof of insurance and $200 penalty feeFine: $200-$5000 fine and/or 15 days to one year in jail — within five years; license suspended for 90 days and registration revoked until proof of insurance
WisconsinFine: up to $500N/A
WyomingFine: up to $750 fine and up to six months in jailN/A
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In addition to any damages caused in an accident, these penalties are tough. Not keeping your auto insurance up to date can cost you big money.

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Understanding Your Auto Insurance Contract

Your car insurance contract determines exactly what is covered in the event of an accident. It is very important that you understand what is in it so that you don’t expect coverage that you don’t have.

What is my auto insurance contract?

Your contract is an agreement with your auto insurance carrier that tells you specifically what is covered, at what rate, and for how long. Your insurance company is legally obligated to fulfill whatever is in the contract.

One of the most important pieces of your contract is the the type of auto insurance coverage that you choose. This will determine what your insurance company is responsible for.

Each company offers different coverages at different policies. It’s important that you get quotes from multiple companies to get the very best coverage at the cheapest rate.

What information is in my auto insurance contract?

Your contract will tell you how to use your auto insurance. Exactly what coverage you have available to you, any discounts added to your account, the cost of the coverage, and when your policy expires will be listed in the contract.

Anything not listed in the contract is not covered. For example, if you choose liability-only coverage, the damages to your car from an accident you caused wouldn’t be covered.

The amount of money that you must pay is dependent on your risk class and how much you are billed for the new policy term. Your auto insurance rates will vary based on a lot of factors. One of the biggest is the type of coverage that you choose.

This table breaks down average annual rates by coverage type for some of the best-rated companies.

Average Annual Auto Insurance Rates By Coverage Type
CompaniesAverage Annual Rates for High CoverageAverage Annual Rates for Low CoverageAverage Annual Rates for Medium Coverage
USAA$2,667.92$2,404.11$2,539.87
American Family$3,416.40$3,368.49$3,544.37
Geico$3,429.14$3,001.91$3,213.97
State Farm$3,454.80$3,055.40$3,269.80
Nationwide$3,505.37$3,394.83$3,449.80
Progressive$4,350.96$3,737.13$4,018.46
Farmers$4,494.13$3,922.47$4,166.22
Travelers$4,619.07$4,223.63$4,462.02
Allstate$5,139.02$4,628.03$4,896.81
Liberty Mutual$6,356.04$5,805.75$6,058.57
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You can see that higher coverage equals higher rates. But your risk is less since more possibilities are covered. That’s why it is extremely important to fully understand what is and is not covered in your policy.

What is an auto insurance term?

Auto insurance policies are sold in terms. The term is how long the contract is valid after you sign up for insurance and you select an effective date. Each company will control the length of the term offered.

How long are auto insurance terms?

In most states, you’re free to buy either a six-month policy or a 12-month policy. The longer the policy term, the longer the rates are locked in.

When your term comes up for expiration, your insurance company will underwrite your policy and determine how much your renewal premiums will be.

Companies can either decide to extend a renewal offer or set the policy up for non-renewal. Either way, you will receive a notice in the mail between 30 and 45 days in advance explaining the company’s decision.

How can I access my auto insurance contract?

There are several ways to get your auto contract:

  • You should get a paper copy when you sign
  • Many companies allow you to access your account and policy online
  • Some companies even have an app that allows you quick access as needed. You can also pay your bill and add coverage.

With so many ways to access your policy, you should always know what’s in your policy and when it ends.

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Policy Payment Options

Most companies offer you several different payment options. You will generally have the option of paying the whole thing upfront or paying in installments.

Do I have to pay the full term amount upfront?

When you apply for insurance for the first time with a carrier, you can pay your premiums in full and you won’t have a payment until the end of the term. If you pay your premiums in full, your next payment won’t be due until your renewal date

The only exception is if your premiums change after the application has been underwritten and issued. If you’re misquoted, you will receive a bill for the balance due.

Will companies set up a payment installment plan?

In the past, insurance companies only accepted full payments. Now, most companies offer their customers the option to set up a payment plan so that they can pay a portion of the premiums instead of the entire balance.

If you set up a payment plan, you need to keep up with your due dates so that your policy doesn’t cancel for non-payment.

So, what payment plan options are available? There are a few different options to choose from if you’re setting up a payment plan. It’s important to choose the option that you can afford, but don’t forget to ask about installment fees. If the carrier charges a high fee, try to keep the installments to a minimum.

Common alternatives to paying in full include:

  • Semi-annual – Pay every six months on an annual policy
  • Quarterly – Pay once every three months
  • Monthly – Pay an installment on the same day each month (manual payments or EFT payments)
  • Five Pay Plan – Pay two months down and then four monthly installments

If you set up an installment payment plan, you can often request that your payments be due every month, every quarter, or another schedule that works for you both.

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What happens if I miss a payment?

When you first buy auto insurance, it’s easy to keep track of when your premium payments are due. After you’ve been with a carrier for several terms, you can easily start to confuse due dates and expiration dates.

If you don’t know when your payment is due and you miss a payment, your coverage will be terminated for non-payment. If the policy cancels and you have a loss, the insurance company won’t pay for the claim.

If you want to reinstate the policy, you have to pay what’s due plus a fee. If your car insurance expired, there will still be a gap in coverage that you must account for with the state.

When you are looking for coverage, companies can run a car insurance history report. This report will check vehicle insurance history to show if you have lapsed coverage or didn’t make your payments. This can lead to higher rates.

Do auto insurance companies offer grace periods for payments?

Many car insurance policies offer grace periods. A grace period is the amount of time that you have to pay your premiums after the due date without your coverage being terminated.

Before you rely on a grace period, you need to find out how many days you have to make a payment. Most grace periods are between one day and 30 days.

Check your last premium invoice to see when your payment is due. If you’ve paid in full, check your ID cards to see when your term expires.

Since rates change often, the end of your policy is the perfect time to consider shopping around. To compare premiums, use our FREE online rate tool and request instant quotes today. Enter your ZIP code now to get started!

FAQ

We’ve collected some of the most commonly asked questions and answered them for you so you can check if your car has insurance and then learn how to best manage your auto insurance policy.

When should I cancel my auto insurance based on the payment due date?

If you want your cancellation date to be the date your policy expires, you will want to talk to your insurance company. The company can ask for your cancellation notice in writing, but some companies will accept just a phone call. Your company will tell you how far in advance you need to give notice.

You can also cancel your policy before it expires. In that case, your company would usually refund any amount of your payment that wasn’t used.

How can I check if my insurance policy is valid?

If you have concerns, you can always call your insurance company. They will be able to tell you if your policy is up to date or if it has expired.

Can I check my auto insurance due date online?

Yes, depending on the company. Most larger companies will have a website that allows you to check your policy, make payments, and even make changes to your policy online.

Will my insurance renew automatically?

Many times, yes your policy will renew automatically. You should still get a notification that your policy is about to expire and that the company chooses to renew it. This is a great time to compare rates to make sure you are getting the best deal around.

How does the insurance company determine my due date?

Typically, the due date is set by the terms and payment plan you agree on. For example, if you choose a one year term and pay in full at the start, you would not have another due date until the following year.

Can you check your car insurance online?

Some companies allow digital access to your policy, but every auto insurance provider uses technology differently. Compare quotes and websites below.

  • Every car insurance carrier is different in terms of technology
  • Some may offer car insurance policies online or through a smartphone application
  • You want to use your online access to manage your car insurance policy and premiums

You need to understand your car insurance policy completely. It’s important to understand what your policy entails with its coverage, your premium, and any applicable endorsements that you may have.

What is the best way for you to have an understanding of all of this? Can you easily check your car insurance policy online?

Car insurance carriers have come a long way in terms of technology in recent years, but not everyone is at the same position. Whether or not you are going to be able to check your car insurance policy online is going to largely depend on who your carrier is.

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Every Carrier is Different

The truth of the matter is that every single car insurance carrier is different in terms of the technological advancements that they have made.

Some car insurance carriers are going to have your insurance policy available on their website. Some may even have it available to you via a mobile web presence such as a mobile site available on your smartphone, or through a smartphone application.

You may be able to do with your car insurance carrier is to check out what your historical policies may look like. This means pulling up not only the policy that you currently have in effect but also older policies that you had in prior years.

This can be beneficial to you so that you can check out the following:

  • The rates that you used to be charged
  • The premium that you paid
  • The coverages you used to have versus what you have now

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When an Online Policy is Helpful

An online policy can be helpful in several different instances, especially when you want to lookup a car insurance policy number online quickly. Say you are thinking about renewing your next insurance policy with a different carrier, but you want to have the same coverage and deductible that you have now.

When you can pull up your policy online you can easily compare what your new carrier is offering you versus what your current carrier is providing to you now.

An online policy can also be helpful in the event that you were recently in some type of accident and you want to move forward with filing a claim.

You want to have an idea of what coverage you have and the limits associated with that coverage. Knowing this before you go forward with the claim filing can help you level set with what your expectations should be.

Ask the Right Questions

The best rule of thumb to go by with your current car insurance carrier is to just ask.

When you do not know whether or not your car insurance carrier allows you to check your policy online, you want to reach out to them to get more information. Give them a call and see what they offer in terms of electronic policy documentation.

They may tell you that it is offered and they may even be able to set you up with an online account on the spot. This can give you a login so that all you have to do is hop on a site and pull up your policy in a few minutes of time.

If it is not possible to find the information, they may tell you that as well.

Knowing what your car insurance carrier offers to you in terms of online policy documentation is very important.

You want to have an idea as to what is available to you so that you can use it to compare to your renewal policy or carriers you are getting quotes from, or if you are preparing to file a claim and want more information.

Have knowledge of what your insurance policy has for coverage and use it as a tool to help you compare what other carriers are offering so that you can make value-add insurance decisions.

One way you can absolutely verify car insurance coverage online instantly is to go ahead and apply for new coverage on your vehicle right away. Start saving today by comparing auto insurance premiums side-by-side. Enter your ZIP code below to get started now!

References:

  1. https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-uninsured-motorists
  2. http://www.autocheck.com/vehiclehistory/autocheck/en/search-by-license-plate
  3. https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/vehindustry/otherdmvs
  4. https://beckerlaw.com/blog/taking-photos-car-crash-critical/
  5. https://consumer.findlaw.com/insurance/do-i-have-an-insurable-interest.html
  6. https://epic.org/privacy/drivers/

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