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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Important facts to know...

  • You must be able to furnish proof of insurance whenever you’re pulled over by an officer for a traffic violation
  • In many states, the proof that’s submitted must be an official auto insurance ID card issued by the insurer
  • Your insurance card needs to include the owner’s name, address, vehicle make, VIN, policy number, and period
  • If you don’t have your ID card, the officer can cite you for no insurance until you furnish proof to the court
  • When you add a new car to your policy, the insurer will send you a new ID card in the mail or you can print it

If you own a car, there are a few things you need to ensure you’re driving legally. You need a current license, you need up-to-date registration on the vehicle, and you also need to own an insurance policy. Being without insurance could leave you without a car if you’re caught. Vehicle registrations and signing up for insurance are incredibly stressful responsibilities to go through, but they’re necessary.

All of the states in the U.S. have some sort of mandatory insurance law in place that requires you to buy insurance or file proof of financial responsibility through the state.

When you ignore the law, you could be cited or even left without a car entirely.

Technology has improved over the years. Now state agencies in charge of overseeing driver and vehicle licensing can see whether or not you have insurance in real time. When they run an inquiry, they are able to see much of what makes up your driver profile, which happens to include your insurance. They also have access to information such as your address or any other pertinent, helpful details. Just in case someone decides to pull a runner.

Eyes are always watching to see if you’re maintaining your coverage. Even though these agencies are watching, you need to carry insurance cards with you at all times. Let’s discuss what you need to do if you need a new card.

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What types of documents will you receive when you sign up?

When you activate coverage through a company, you get a big pile of paperwork in the mail. This large envelope will include:

  • A policy booklet
  • Disclosures
  • Welcome letters
  • declarations page detailing your coverage
  • Your first bill
  • A receipt for your first payment
  • An auto insurance ID card

The paperwork may seem a bit redundant, but each piece of paper in the welcome kit serves a purpose.

You just need to know what documents you need to file and which documents you should keep out.

It’s best to file your declarations page and the disclosures and keep the invoice handy for quick access. The ID card should always be kept in your wallet or your car so anyone driving the car can have access to it should they need to provide the insurance status of the vehicle. It’s not against the law for them to be driving your car, but you do want to make sure they have the registration document to back up their claims of it being borrowed. You don’t want the cops to think that your car is stolen property.

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What is an auto insurance ID card?

Your insurance card includes some vital information about your insurance but not as much information that’s found in your declarations page.

The card itself is usually a piece of laminated or glossy paper so that it doesn’t easily tear or bend. It may even be as small as your government ID so that it can fit into your wallet.

The sole purpose of the card is to show that you have coverage and who the coverage is provided by.

Sometimes law enforcement officers ask for your insurance card during a traffic stop, and sometimes you need to hand it over to another driver after an accident. That’s why it doesn’t tell you what your limits are or what type of coverage you’ve rejected.

Here’s what can be found on your ID card:

  • The name of the vehicle owner and the policyholder
  • The name of the listed drivers on the policy
  • The year, make, and model of the car
  • The full VIN of the covered vehicle
  • The effective date of the term and the expiration date
  • The name of the insurance company and contact information for the agent
  • The policy number and the claims office phone number

Why do you need to carry your insurance card?

If the state can see that you have insurance and the information can be found on the computer, you might wonder why you need to have an insurance card in your car in the first place.

After all, if you provided an expired card, the officer could tell by typing your license plate into their cruiser’s computer system.

Well, the law might be antiquated, but you do need to have an insurance card with you at all times.

In most states, when fill out an application form for registration, you’re acknowledging that you’ll comply with all of the rules that come with car ownership. One of the rules is that you must be able to show your insurance card when someone asks for it. It’s so that you’ll be able to prove that you have valid registration on your vehicle, which is a smart business plan if you look at it from their point of view.

What can happen when you don’t have an ID card with you?

If you misplaced your ID card or haven’t put the new card in your car yet, you could be cited merely for not having it.

Even if the officer lets you off for speeding or rolling through a stop sign, it’s not uncommon for them to cite you for being uninsured because you don’t have a proof of coverage with you.

When you have been issued a citation, it’s your duty to appear in court. You might be able to hire someone to appear for you, but driving without insurance is one of those offenses where court appearances are mandatory.

Luckily, you can provide your proof of insurance to court, and the ticket will be thrown out so that you don’t have to pay a hefty ‘no insurance’ fine. Either way, it’s still a waste of your valuable time.

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Can you order a replacement ID card?

Since insurance cards are so small, it’s not unusual to misplace them. If you can’t find your card and you don’t want to run into problems with the courts in the future, you can easily get a replacement in one of a few different ways.

Here are the options that you can choose from:

  • Call your insurance agent or the toll-free customer service number and ask that a new card is mailed
  • Request that your agent emails you a printable PDF or faxes it to you for immediate needs
  • Log into your account profile online and download your ID cards directly off of the web
  • Visit a local, regional, or district office to have the cards printed for you in person
  • Download your insurance companies mobile app and have on-the-go access to your insurance cards on your mobile device

When you change a car on your policy or change your coverage types, the new insurance card will be mailed to you, or you can print it at no additional cost.  You aren’t given cards for the entire term until you activate your coverage and the policy is fully underwritten. You’ll want to make sure that you have your card on you for your entire coverage period and whoever else may need it, such as your spouse or your child, for example.

If you want to find a deal on coverage for all of the cars that you own, get quotes through an online quoting system and then you’ll get temporary cards right after submitting your application.

Start comparison shopping today for multiple auto insurance quotes by entering your ZIP code below!