What is a policy number on car insurance?

Auto insurance policy numbers are used to identify customers and types of coverage. All companies organize them differently and your number is unique. Your insurance policy number is unique and should contain nine to 13 digits. No two companies generate their insurance policy numbers the same way, so each carrier's sequence will vary.

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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: May 2, 2020

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Things to remember...

  • Every insurance carrier formats their policy number differently
  • Your policy number should be displayed right on the front of your policy
  • When you cannot find your policy number, ask your insurance carrier for guidance
  • Managing your auto insurance policy online is another easy way to find your policy number

Auto insurance providers use policy numbers to identify customers and types of coverage. All companies organize them differently and your number is unique. Your insurance policy number is unique and should contain nine to 13 digits. No two companies generate their insurance policy numbers the same way, so each carrier’s sequence will vary.

There are a lot of things that you need to know when you go to buy car insurance for the first time. You have to know what you need in terms of coverage, you need to know when you want your policy to go into effect, the premium that you will be charged, and so on.

Typically, reading a car insurance policy is pretty straightforward as long as you have someone helping you along the way.

When you get to the policy number, though, what does that actually mean?

There are all sorts of limits, dates, coverages, endorsements, and everything in-between buried across a car insurance policy.

The policy number is something that can easily be glossed over and simply missed by an insured.

In the event you need the coverage you have been paying your premium for all along, you want to know:

  • What your policy number is
  • What it represents
  • How it can be beneficial to you

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Policy Number As a Unique Identifier

You want to think of your policy number as a unique identifier. This number ties you and your insurance policy to your insurer.

We all have a Social Security Number from living as citizens in the United States of America. That number is unique to each and every one of us and when that number is given, it represents who we are.

The same can be said for your policy number as it represents you and your policy in the eyes of an insurer.

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All Insurance Companies Are Different

Every single car insurance company out there is different in terms of how they create a policy number.

Some of them may create a policy number that is made up of just numeric digits, while others may rely on letters. Some may use a combination of the two while having some coding embedded into them.

Think about things such as the year that your policy is in effect or the types of coverages you have purchased.

These types of things could actually be codified in your policy number that your insurer can easily understand, even though you may not.

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Using It In an Accident

When you get into an unfortunate car accident, you want to have your policy number handy.

Knowing what that number is can easily allow you to share your car insurance information with who you need to.

 Your policy number can help the claims process be that much more effective and efficient as your policy is going to be able to be found in no time at all.

It is much better to be able to provide your policy number than just your general insurance carrier.

Know Where the Number is Located

You want to know where the policy number is actually going to be located.

Chances are it is right on the very first page of your car insurance policy, but if you cannot find it easily, be sure to ask your insurer.

Your insurer should be able to point you right to where the policy number is.

If that fails, check your account on the insurer’s website and your smartphone app, as both of these should also have the policy number information in there.

The policy number on your car insurance policy is what ties you to the insurer that you are paying your premium to.

In the event of an accident, using that policy number can help your claim to be worked timely, getting your coverage in sync with you and working for you very quickly.

Talk to your insurance carrier to understand what their policy number format is and how you can find yours on your policy.

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How many digits are in a car insurance policy number?

If you look at your auto insurance policy documents, you might wonder what that jumble of letters and numbers is on the top of all of your paperwork.

  • A policy number is something that can be easily found when managing your car insurance
  • Every auto insurance company issues their own policy numbers to their applicants after the  policy is underwritten
  • The policy number is an identifier that the policyholder can use when making policy inquiries, changes, payments, or claims
  • The number of digits and the sequence of the digits will depend on the carrier you’re insured through and the state where your policy was written
  • The beginning of the sequence will usually be unique to a specific carrier. If you’ve been involved in an accident and you have the other driver’s policy number, your claims adjuster may be able to identify the driver’s carrier just by looking at the sequence
  • You can find your policy number on your declarations page, your auto insurance ID card, your billing invoices, or any other mailers that you receive from your insurer

While this sequence of digits might bring back memories of solving algebraic equations in school, it’s actually your personal car insurance policy number that’s used to pull up all of your information.

If you’re trying to locate your policy number and you’re not sure what to look for, you might be curious to learn how many digits that number will be. Unfortunately, there’s not a universal number of digits that all insurance carriers use.

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It’s even more confusing to learn that a policy number might not even be a number at all. Here’s what you need to know about policy numbers for future reference:

The Number and Sequence of the Digits Vary By Carrier

Most policy numbers can often be a sequence of 10 or fewer numbers and letters. Unfortunately, since companies are responsible for creating their own sequence, no carrier uses the same series when they are generating policy numbers.

With most carriers, it’s helpful to know that there won’t be a mixture of numbers and letters.

Usually, the letters preceding numbers represent the state where the policy was issued and the type of policy the number identifies.

The letters may be the state’s abbreviation or code that represents the state in the company’s system. The numbers following any letters are the digits that are unique to your policy. Only your account will have these numbers.

How to Identify Insurance Company by Policy Number

Identifying a car insurance company by policy number is not an impossible task, but you will need to do some research. Whether you are looking for an insurance group number or an insurance policy number, if you do not know your insurance company’s name then your task will be difficult but not impossible. Check billing documents, ID cards, and even emails for clues to who your insurance company is based on the policy number.

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What is a VIN and is that different from a policy number?

The VIN, which stands for Vehicle Identification Number, is an identifying code for a specific vehicle. Every car that’s produced by a manufacturer on a factory line will be issued its own VIN.

This is a 16-digit or a 17-digit number that can be found on the window etching and on the vehicle frame.

Vehicle Identification Numbers aren’t the same thing as policy numbers because they identify the car and not the policy.

Some companies have advanced databases where they can pull up a policy by inputting the VIN, but this isn’t a universal capability. All insurers, however, have systems where inputting the VIN can decode information on the vehicle.

Here’s what a VIN tells you:

  • Digits 1-3 are the manufacturer identifier
  • Digits 4-8 are vehicle features
  • Digit 9 is a fraud verification number
  • Digit 10 is the vehicle’s model year
  • Digit 11 is the code for the assembly plant where the car was manufactured
  • Digits 12-17 is the vehicle’s identifier off the assembly line

Where can you find your policy number?

Chances are you don’t know your auto insurance policy number by heart. Since it’s not a number you’ll use on a regular basis, it’s important that you know where to find it when you need it to file a claim or make an insurance payment.

Here are a few places that you can look if you’re having trouble getting your information:

Declarations Page

Your declarations page includes very detailed information about the coverage that you carry. This is the most important document you’ll receive from your insurer when your policy is issued and when it renews.

Your policy number will be at the top of your declarations page and it will remain the same as long as your policy isn’t rewritten.

Auto Insurance ID Card

Your insurance ID cards are smaller documents that are portable so they are easier to carry on-the-go. Every carrier must issue your up-to-date ID cards each term. On these cards, you’ll find the following information:

  • Company name and contact number
  • Named insured
  • Policy number
  • Effective date
  • Expiration date
  • VIN

Billing Invoices

If you’re paying your premiums monthly, you will get monthly billing notices in the mail or in your email inbox. This notice will include the policy number and the amount due.

If the whole number doesn’t show for security reasons, log into your account online or call your agent.

There will come a time where having your policy number on hand can be helpful. If you’re shopping for coverage, it’s nice to have your current policy information on hand. Enter your coverage information in a quote tool, and you can see if switching makes financial sense.

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References:
    1. https://www.ssa.gov/history/ssn/geocard.html
    2. http://www.carfax.com/company/vehicle-identification-numbers-vins

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