A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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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, mainly in the insuranc...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers Insurance CSR 4 Years

UPDATED: Oct 19, 2021

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Vehicle owners are required by law to carry auto insurance liability coverage in most states
  • The mandatory auto insurance requirements are in place to protect third-party drivers, passengers and pedestrians
  • If you’re involved in an accident, it’s important that you ask for the driver’s license number, plate number, VIN, and insurance company information to verify the driver has active coverage
  • If you ask the vehicle owner for proof of coverage, be sure to verify the status of the policy as it could have lapsed prior to the expiration date
  • The federal government has passed the Drivers Protection and Privacy Act which prohibits state agencies from sharing personal information
  • Under this law, the Department of Motor Vehicles can only provide third parties with insurance information if they’ve reported an accident

State law dictates how much insurance vehicle owners are required to carry at all times. Without the required amount of coverage, vehicle owners can’t legally operate their vehicle on public roadways. It’s also possible that vehicle owners could face some serious consequences for allowing their coverage to lapse while the vehicle is still registered. Compare car insurance rates now by using our FREE tool above!

Even though insurance is the law, there’s a growing incidence of uninsured drivers weaved into daily traffic jams in each and every state. Nationwide statistics show that about 12.6 percent of the cars on the road don’t have any form of valid insurance. The thought of getting on the road and getting into a collision with one of these drivers can be scary, but it does happen on a daily basis. This could leave you wondering how you can check if specific cars are or aren’t insured.

Verifying Insurance Information with the Insurer

If you have interest in knowing whether or not a car’s insured, you can ask the car owner directly for their insurance information. This is what employers and schools do when they need to verify that an employee or volunteer has coverage before they can drive for work or on a field trip.

When you ask for proof of coverage, be sure to as for a declaration’s page or a verification document that’s been drafted by the agent. This will show the level of coverage that’s carried, the policy number and the dates of the term. If you only have access to the ID cards or an old declaration’s page, ask the car owner to call their agent with you to verify coverage is active and payments are current.

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Using Vehicle History Reports

If you can’t get the vehicle owner to provide you with the documentation that you need, you might consider getting the 17-digit VIN of the vehicle and running a vehicle history report. Typically, these reports let someone know if the car has been in an accident or has a clean title. There’s also indirect benefits to using a platform like CarFax or the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System.

By running a vehicle history report, you can see if there are any insurance claims on the vehicle.

You can also see the car’s registration status. Since most states have electronic verification systems in place, the plates for vehicles without active insurance will be suspended until insurance is purchased and active.

Can you check the status of another driver’s insurance through the state?

If you’re unable to get the information through the insurer or through a history report, you might be tempted to contact the state’s motor vehicle agency. Almost all states now have systems in place where they require insurance companies to electronically verify coverage. States that don’t will check the status of insurance randomly during the term or at renewals.

While this information can be beneficial, you might not have access to it as a third party.This is because there are federal protections in place to keep personal information private. The law that protects driver information is called the Drivers Protection and Privacy Act, which makes extracting information very difficult.

Is there ever a time you can get information under the Act?

Motor vehicle records aren’t always safe under the Drivers Protection and Privacy Act. Insurance companies are free to access the records to investigate claims and underwrite. Some other types of permissible use to gain access to third-party motor vehicle records includes:

  • Use by a law enforcement agent to carry out its duties
  • Use to verify the accuracy of information provided by the owner to a business or contractor
  • Use to notify owners that their vehicle was impounded
  • Use to run renewals for registration
  • Use to verify the status of vehicle registration and title for resale purposes
  • Use in connection with vehicle safety issues
  • Use to locate a driver after a hit and run accident that’s been reported to the police

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What is your recourse if you’re in an accident?

One of the most stressful times you’ll have when driving a car is when you’re in an accident. You’re so busy checking on your passengers and looking over the damage, you might forget the importance of gathering insurance information. This could be a major mistake that could leave you on a hunt for the information. Luckily, there are ways that you can access records following an accident if you collect a minimum amount of information.

With the plate number, the VIN or the vehicle owner’s information, you can find out where the other party has insurance. You will need help from the following agencies:

  • The highway patrol of the policy agency reporting to the scene
  • Your insurance company
  • An employee of a traffic court

Can finance companies check the status of a policy?

You’re required under contract to carry insurance if you are financing your car. When you sign up for insurance, you will add the company as the lien holder with a loss payee clause. This entitled that loss payee to receive notices whenever the policy cancels. It’s also possible to add others as loss payees so that they can be notified of a cancellation if they have interest in the car.

How can you check your own insurance?

It’s much easier to check the status of your own insurance. The most straightforward way to check is to call your insurer directly. Verify your identity and you can check everything you need to know about your policy.

If you don’t remember who your carrier is, some states have online verification systems where you can see if a lapse has a lapse instantly.

The consequences of driving without insurance are serious. Since the penalties can have a long-term effect on your life, it’s important to keep your coverage active at all times. If you don’t currently have insurance, you can check into the rates for basic or comprehensive coverage by using a comparison shopping tool online. Enter your information and then select coverage options. Once you know price, you can making executive decisions on the policy that you should buy. Enter your zip code in our FREE tool below to compare car insurance rates now!