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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UPDATED: Oct 18, 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. Sort of like how your registration proves your vehicle is street legal, and that you’re the owner.  Typically this card is sent to a customer from the auto insurance company as soon as they have signed up for any sort of auto policy, and have committed to paying whatever the premium costs are.

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.

Having insurance is necessary if you don’t want to be responsible for the medical bills of any injured motorists should you get into an accident. Not only is it important to have proof of coverage, but you should also understand what type of coverage you actually have.

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 do 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. Though this particular rule varies from state to state, so you’ll have to check what rules there are for certificate holders wherever you live. Typically identification in the form of a paper copy is universally accepted.

If you carry a paper copy with you, it will look like the same size as a standard credit card. The reason why an insurance ID card can be so easily lost is because it’s that small, and if it’s not kept in the same place all the time, it can become misplaced.

When searching for your car insurance certificate, you may find out that your policy is actually not in effect. This is a problem because you need to have active car insurance coverage as long as you are driving. Once again, it’s just the same as your vehicle registration – you don’t want to be driving without a registered vehicle. Uninsured drivers are one of the top dangers on the road to other drivers.

You might want to call your insurer and find out what happened with your coverage and if you were dropped for any reason in particular. Most insurance agents will be able to tell you directly over the phone what caused the lapse, whether it was a missed payment or you weren’t signed up for auto-renewal. If it’s because your insurance carrier cancelled your policy, they must provide prior notice. Failing to do so would run them into serious trouble.

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 types of coverages that you might need, such as comprehensive coverage as well as collision coverage if you have a newer car that you plan to maintain for an extended period of time. This can be done either with an insurance quote online or through an agent. With either choice, examine the policy service options you have, and choose the best one for your current vehicle.

If you choose to stick with your current provider after a lapse in your policy period, you may have to pay reinstatement fees. This is why we mentioned that as the policy holder, it is your responsibility to always know the status of your coverage and to make sure you always have continuous coverage. That way, you don’t fall into the category of uninsured motorists who bring danger to those around them by not keeping an active policy.

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How do you go about getting your car 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. This would be your certificate of insurance, sometimes referred to as your insurance ID.

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.

What is the 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. It’s a widely accepted form of proof that you’re covered, and you should strive to know where it is at all times.

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. However, more than likely you’ll have to go through customer service.

At that time, should you discover that your policy has lapsed, you may have to go through the reinstatement process. There are limits to what your provider can do for you in situations like that, so at that point you can choose to reapply with the same insurer, or compare prices with other companies for valuable coverage.

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