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How do police know if you have auto insurance?

  • In virtually all states, anyone who owns a motor vehicle must carry either liability insurance or no-fault insurance to comply with state law
  • State auto insurance laws dictate how much coverage vehicles must have and which coverage options are classified as mandatory
  • Driving a vehicle that doesn’t have insurance is against the law and can result in some stiff penalties which may include jail time
  • In many states, auto insurance companies are required to electronically report the status of insurance policies. If a policy cancels mid-term or doesn’t renew, the motor vehicle agency will update the file in real-time.
  • If you’re stopped by a law enforcement officer, there’s a chance that they will be able to verify if your auto insurance ID cards are active or not
  • Drivers who present a fraudulent ID card to the police to avoid being cited could be fined or arrested

In today’s litigious society, having insurance is a must. Not only do you need it for protection, carrying insurance is a requirement in almost every state except for New Hampshire and Virginia. Drivers who fail to comply with state-mandated insurance laws are in for more than just a slap on their wrists. If you don’t carry at least the state minimum required coverage, you could lose your driving privilege and even your car. Compare car insurance rates now by using our FREE tool above!

If you’re willing to take the risk of driving uninsured, you might assume that you’re safe as long as you’re armed with expired insurance documents. Doing this isn’t only illegal, it’s ineffective as well. With more and more states requiring insurance providers to electronically report coverage instantly when the status of a policy changes, officials can see whether you have coverage or not without even asking you for proof of insurance.

Understanding Your Policy Documents

When you sign up for insurance you receive a few different documents that either explain to you your duties or detail the coverage options you’ve selected. The declaration’s page is the most important document because it has all of your personal rating information and detailed breakdowns of the premiums that you’re paying. The next important document is the auto insurance ID card. This is what you’re required to keep in your car with you in case of an accident or a citation.

What is an auto insurance ID card?

If you’re pulled over by the police or you’re involved in an accident, one of the first things that you’ll be asked to furnish is your ID card. For years, the ID card was the only way for third-parties to verify your insurer and that you had coverage under your name. The auto insurance ID card shows several different pieces of information. Here’s what you’ll find on the compact document:

  • VIN of the covered auto
  • Year, make and model of vehicle
  • Policy number
  • Named insured or policy owner
  • Name of insurer
  • Insurer’s NAIC license number
  • The effective and expiration date of the policy
  • Covered drivers listed on the policy
  • Coverage options carried (typically doesn’t show limits)

The Auto Insurance ID Card: A Thing of the Past

While most insurance companies still send physical or electronic ID cards, they are quickly being phased out by new technologies that make it possible for insurance officers to verify information on the spot. One of the biggest problems with physical ID cards is that they were printed at the beginning of a policy period.

If the policy were to have lapsed after issuance, the officer would have no way of knowing if the card was legitimate.

As the number of uninsured drivers continued to rise, state officials realized something needed to be done. This is why new laws and systems were developed to make it possible for officers to see that real-time status of a policy as they pulled a driver over. Solutions would make it possible to reduce the number of uninsured drivers being sent back on the road and to make sure that the policy could cite the offenders.

Presenting Fraudulent ID Cards is a Crime

It’s tempting to buy insurance and then cancel it so that you have what looks like a legitimate ID card in your car. While you might think this is a harmless act to trick officers into thinking you’re covered, it’s called fraud in the eyes of the law. If you choose to knowingly use an expired ID card as proof of insurance, you could face more than just uninsured driver penalties.

Drivers who obey the law are paying as much as $300 more per year just because of insurance fraud. Many states, especially those with high rates of uninsured drivers, are cracking down on drivers using fake policy documents to get away with driving around uninsured. Here are some penalties you could face if you furnish an invalid ID card to an officer who has seen that your policy is expired:

  • Conviction of a misdemeanor
  • Mandatory court appearance
  • Payment of a penalty for providing fraudulent documents to the police
  • A requirement to complete community service for up to 30 days
  • Penalties for being uninsured while driving

How can police tell if your policy has expired?

Now that you know the dangers of providing a false ID card to police, you might be wonder how an officer would be able to differentiate an active ID card from an inactive one. What you might not know is that most states now have some form of electronic verification system in place.

Electronic verification systems allow the motor vehicle agency, the police, and the insurance companies in the state to communicate with one another in a seamless way.

State officials have tested intelligent online systems and implemented some to make sure that the information can easily be reported and retrieved. This makes it possible for the agencies to check who has insurance and for the police to verify whose insurance is really valid.

Can police target me for driving without active insurance?

If you’ve been driving around uninsured for weeks or months without being stopped, there’s a reason. Officers have the right to check your insurance status through their computer systems. These officers cannot, however, pull you over strictly because you’re not insured. This is because not having insurance is a secondary violation.

Some other law must be broken before an officer will stop a driver for not having insurance or the driver charged with any criminal activity after the stop couldn’t be prosecuted.

You don’t even need to break the law to be penalized for driving uninsured. If you don’t have insurance, there’s a good chance something will be waiting for you in the mail within the next few months. Instead of being fined by the motor vehicle department you should get protection. Use an online insurance rate comparison tool to price the cost of coverage and get legal today. Enter your zip code in our FREE tool below to compare car insurance rates now!

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