Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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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, largely in the insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers Insurance CSR 4 Years

UPDATED: Jul 14, 2021

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Important facts to know...

  • A car insurance certificate is sometimes also referred to as a proof of insurance card and is issued directly by your auto insurance provider as soon as you have signed up and made the initial payment for an auto policy
  • To comply with the laws on auto insurance coverage in almost every state in the U.S., you must have an insurance certificate or proof of insurance with you while driving in case you are pulled over by a police officer or involved in a car crash
  • Many insurance companies issue a credit card sized printout that verifies that you have insurance coverage through that particular company
  • You can find your policy effective dates on the card, which will tell you exactly when your auto insurance expires and the number of your auto insurance company to call for information about your policy
  • You should not have to pay a fee to have your auto insurance company send you a duplicate proof of insurance card if yours is lost or misplaced at any point

Your insurance certificate is important because it serves as proof that you have the required car insurance policy in your state. It is sent to you from the auto insurance company as soon as you have signed up for your policy and have committed to paying your premiums.

It is best to have this card with you at all times when you are driving, even if you are driving someone else’s vehicle. The most convenient place to store your proof of insurance card is probably in your wallet because it will easily fit inside.

Make sure you have the coverage you need at the price you can afford. Compare car insurance quotes today by entering your zip code above.

Why You Need a Car Insurance Certificate

In some states, you need to actually have proof of valid car insurance on your person in order to comply with auto insurance requirements. It may even be possible for you to show electronic proof of insurance with your smartphone.

If you carry a paper copy with you, it will look like the same size as a standard credit card.

When searching for your car insurance certificate, you may find out that your policy is actually not in effect right now. This is a problem because you need to have active car insurance coverage as long as you are driving.

You might want to call your previous insurer and find out what happened with your coverage and if you were dropped for any reason in particular.

Once you find out that you need another car insurance policy, the next step is to start requesting online quotes.

This does not take much time at all, and you can get very fast feedback on the rates that you can expect to pay from a wide range of insurance providers in your area. This will give you an immediate point of comparison so that you know you are not paying too much for any policy.

After you have determined the general range of prices in your area, you should start to narrow down exactly what you need from a policy.

This includes checking out the coverages that you might need, such as a comprehensive policy if you have a newer car that you plan to maintain for an extended period of time.

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Getting Your Auto Insurance Certificate

As soon as you sign up for an auto insurance policy, you should make sure to keep a copy of the policy itself. You should also ask the auto insurance company about how you obtain proof of insurance.

Most companies will mail you proof of insurance cards. You may have to submit your first premium payment before requesting a proof of insurance card.

If you sign up for auto insurance online, then there may be an option for you to print a certificate as soon as you submit your first payment. If this option is available to you, it is smart to do right away so that you are not in a situation where you are driving without proof of insurance.

In addition to these options, it is often convenient to keep your proof of insurance information on your smartphone.

Many of the major car insurance companies in the U.S. now make this option available to drivers through a company app that can be installed on their phones.

Even though this may not always be accepted as official proof of auto insurance in every state, it is a helpful way to store your car insurance information in case you need to access it quickly.

Recap on What Your Car Insurance Certificate Looks Like

Your car insurance certificate is a small piece of paper that is issued by your auto insurance company to prove that you have valid insurance coverage. This helps you to comply with proof of insurance laws that are in place in many states.

Most companies will issue an insurance card that is about the size of a credit card and can fit right inside your wallet easily.

If you ever lose or cannot find your insurance certificate, it is a good idea to have another one sent to you from your auto insurance company. You may also be able to print one out from your computer if you have an online auto insurance account.

Compare car insurance quotes today by using our free rate tool below.