Do I need to carry my auto insurance certificate?
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UPDATED: Feb 28, 2016
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Car insurance premiums can add up and take a toll on your monthly budget. However, it is very important to maintain the required amounts of coverage on your vehicle. To help do this, yet make your premium more budget-friendly, try evaluating the types of coverage you have and using an online price comparison tool. These tools make it easy to compare several different insurance companies and policies in order to ensure that you are getting the bests coverage at the best available rates. Compare car insurance rates now by using our FREE tool above!
Proof of Insurance Requirements
You are driving home after a long day at work listening to your favorite radio station when you happen to glance in your rearview mirror. Suddenly you notice and recognize the dreadful flashing lights on the car behind you. Perhaps you were going slightly above the speed limit or maybe you squeaked past a yellow light. Whatever the case, you begin to pull over and wonder if you have your proof of insurance with you.
Generally, when you are pulled over by a law enforcement officer or in an accident, big or small, you will be required to have a few pieces of information and documentation with you. These include:
- Your driver’s license
- Your car registration
- Your proof of insurance, usually in the form of an insurance card
If you do not have one or all of these items with you, there could be trouble. Laws regarding carrying proof of insurance will vary from one state to the next.
Some states will require a paper or physical insurance card as proof that your car is insured, and others will accept digital proof.
Also, depending on the state that you live in, not having proof of car insurance with you can lead to:
- Points off of your license
- A court summons
- A suspended license
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Digital Proof of Insurance
Drivers should check with their own state’s laws to find out if proof of insurance is required and what types of proof are acceptable. Some car insurance companies are moving to digital versions and some states, such as California, are accepting this type of proof. However, some states will not accept digital versions and not all car insurance companies will offer digital proof. Your proof of insurance, also usually known as an insurance card, will usually have the following on it:
- Your name and address
- Vehicle year, make and model
- Insurance company name
- Policy type
- Effective and expiration dates for your policy
- Names of other insured parties on the vehicle
Driving without Proof of Insurance versus Driving without Proper Insurance Coverage
While driving without proof of insurance can be a serious offense, not having the legally required insurance is an even bigger and more costly mistake. In all states, except for New Hampshire and Washington D.C., drivers are legally required to carry auto insurance. Underinsured and uninsured motorist cause millions of dollars in damages each year as well as injuries and fatalities, oftentimes leaving victims and their insurance companies to pick up the tab.
What Types of Insurance Do I Need?
Your car insurance policy can have many different policies within it. Each serves its own purpose and each state can require different coverage types and amounts. Here is what you need to know about the different types of coverage.
- Bodily Injury Liability: Liability is the minimum amount of insurance required in the states that do require you to carry insurance coverage. Bodily injury liability will pay for the injuries and medical bills of other parties in relation to an accident that you have caused.
- Property Liability: Property liability coverage is in place to pay for damages to property that you cause in an accident. It can cover other people’s vehicles, houses, trees, light posts, and other structures. It is important to note that liability coverage will not cover your own vehicle or property in the event of an accident.
- Collision: The collision portion of your auto insurance provides payments in the event of an accident with another vehicle. `
- Comprehensive: The comprehensive part of your car insurance policy pays for damages unrelated to a collision with another motor vehicle. It pays for damages caused by hitting wildlife, buildings, or poles. It also covers damages from a fire or a natural disaster, theft, and vandalism. With both collision and comprehensive coverage, you can choose your deductible and policy limits. You should know that the higher your deductible is, the lower your premium price will be.
- Med Pay: Med Pay is also referred to as medical payments or personal injury protection (PIP). This portion of your policy is sometimes a legal requirement, depending on your state. Med pay pays for medical payments in relation to an accident, generally up to $5,000. In addition, med pay can sometimes cover lost wages for accident victims that are unable to work as a direct result of a car accident.
- Rental Car: While not as necessary as other parts of an auto insurance policy, rental car coverage can be nice to have. This optional portion of your policy will pay for a rental car if you are waiting on your car to be evaluated or repaired after an accident. Rental car expenses can add up quickly and this coverage can be helpful if you end up waiting more than a day or two for your vehicle to be repaired.
- Gap Insurance: Gap insurance provides the difference between what is left on your car loan or lease agreement and what your car insurance company believes is fair market value for your vehicle. If you lease your car or still have a loan, this type of coverage may be required.
In order to make sure you are receiving the best rates on your auto insurance policy, be sure to use an online rate calculator. These tools make it easy to compare different policies, car insurance companies, and rates. You should also evaluate your coverage types, policies, and deductibles to make sure you are both legally and financially protected if you have a car accident or other unforeseen event. Enter your zip code in our FREE tool below to compare car insurance rates now!
When it comes to auto insurance there is no one size fits all policy, each driver needs to be sure they are purchasing the legally required minimum amounts and then determine their other coverage needs.
For example, some drivers may want to take their chances and pay a lower premium with a higher deductible. While other drivers will happy pay a higher premium for more coverage that will provide better protection if they are in an accident.