Every state (except New Hampshire) requires car insurance to legally take the wheel, if you’ve got a vehicle, you almost certainly have a policy number. Luckily, tracking down your number is easy if you know where to look.
Here’s everything you need to know about finding a car insurance policy number and the situations you’ll need to have it handy.
What is a Car Insurance Policy Number?
A car insurance policy number is just what it sounds like: It’s a unique set of numbers that your car insurance provider uses to identify your personal auto coverage. In situations like a car accident or getting pulled over, you will be expected to provide your policy number.
Where to Find Your Car Insurance Policy Number
You can find insurance policy number details on two documents you probably already have in your possession:
- Your insurance card
- Bills from your insurer
The insurance card is generally easier to find the policy number on since it is listed on the front of your card and is most likely stored in your vehicle. On a bill, you’ll usually see the policy number at the top of the document, along with other header details.
If you don’t have a paper copy of your bill, you can also find your car insurance number online by logging into your account on your provider’s website or cell phone app. Once you log in, you should see your policy number near the top of the page. It might be labeled with “Policy Number” or a simple pound sign (#). If you don’t see it there, look in your account details for your personal information.
Where You Should Keep Your Insurance Card?
You should always have your policy number with you when you drive (we get into why in the section below this one).
Keep your hard-copy insurance card in your glove compartment where you can easily access it. Since it’s a flimsy piece of paper, storing it with your owner’s manual can help to protect it. A lot of owner’s manuals come with slots specifically for this purpose. You can also buy an insurance card holder or just use an unsealed envelope.
In most cases, you’ll automatically receive a physical insurance card in the mail from your provider annually. Keep in mind, some insurers like Geico and Allstate don’t issue paper cards anymore unless you request them, since they are downloadable to your mobile phone and accessible at any time from your account on their website or mobile app. If you’d prefer to have a physical copy (whichis recommended) you can request one directly by logging in to your provider’s website and print out or screenshot your information to have it handy while it ships.
3 Situations That Require Your Insurance Policy Number
1. If you get into an accident.
Regardless of who’s responsible, you and the other driver should exchange insurance information. Basically, you need your insurance companies to talk to determine who was at-fault — and, consequently, whose coverage will pick up the tab.
2. If you get pulled over.
As we mentioned, most states legally require car insurance. If you get pulled over, the officer might ask for proof of insurance. Giving them your policy number lets them run it through their system to confirm that you’ve met the insurance requirements in your state.
If you’re wondering How Much Car Insurance Coverage You Need, read on.
3. If you want to talk with your insurer.
Giving them your car insurance number allows insurance representatives to quickly look you — and your coverage — up. You can ask questions, modify coverage, pay premiums, etc. once they have your information.
When You Would Need Another Driver’s Insurance Card
Based on the 3 situations listed above, you can probably guess when you would need to get another driver’s car insurance policy number details.
Before you leave the scene of the accident, make sure you have the other driver’s policy number. When you provide your own insurer with the other driver’s car insurance policy number, you give your insurer the info they need to get your claims started.
After a crash, ALWAYS take a picture of the other driver’s insurance card — if you can.
Most people feel frazzled (to say the least) after a collision. If you write their policy number down, you could mix up a character. And if the other driver writes it down for you, there’s always the chance they could intentionally give you the wrong number to avoid the insurance rate increase that comes after an at-fault accident. Snapping a pic is the best way to make sure you have the right info. Were you Side Swiped? Here’s everything to know
What to Do if You Lose Your Insurance Card
Since they’re small pieces of paper, insurance cards can be easy to lose. Don’t panic. You likely have three options (availability varies depending on insurer):
- You can call your insurance provider and ask them to mail you a replacement card. Just be advised that you’ll be driving around without your insurance card until the new one arrives. As a result, you might want to pursue one of the next two options in the interim.
- You can log into your insurer’s website / app and print out a replacement ID card. Most insurance providers make it easy to do this from the homepage of your account. Look for a link that says “Get ID Card,” “Replace ID Card,” or something similar.
- You can download the insurer’s app to your phone and get your ID card that way.
Be sure to take a picture of, or write down your insurance policy number and keep it somewhere secure.
Other Key Information on Your Insurance Card
In addition to your personal auto insurance policy number, the insurance card also offers details around:
- The active drivers on your policy
- Your VIN number which can be handy if have your insurance card on your phone and need that info for another purpose
- Which car is insured (make sure you have the right card in the right vehicle)
- Your insurance agent’s name and contact info, if applicable
Long story short, your card can be useful. Make sure you keep it accessible in your car.
Car Insurance Policy Number FAQs
What is a Policy Number for Auto Insurance?
Your auto policy number is created when the car insurance company issues your policy. It’s usually about a dozen characters long and might combine letters and numbers.
This unique identifier gives your insurance provider a way to keep track of your specific coverage.
When Do You Get an Insurance Card and Policy Number After Switching Insurance Providers?
Once your policy is issued, you will instantly receive an email from your insurance provider to set up an account on their online application. In other words, as soon as you get any policy documents from the insurer, you should be able to find your car insurance policy number by creating an account.
An insurance card will be mailed to you upon issuance of your policy, and you will continue to receive a new card annually in advance of your insurance renewal.
What Should You Do If You Don’t Have Your Insurance Card on You When You Need It?
If you forgot your auto insurance card and need to provide your info to an officer or another driver, pull up your information by logging into your insurance provider’s app or website.
If you don’t have your card and don’t have your phone / service when you get pulled over, brace yourself. While you probably won’t get hit with a charge of driving without insurance, you could still get cited for a failure to show proof of insurance. This usually won’t go on your driving record but it generally does mean that you need to find out how to show the applicable court that you actually had coverage. You’ll likely need to pay an administrative fee, and possibly a fine, too.
If you got into an accident without your insurance card handy, give the other driver your info and get theirs. Text them a picture of your insurance card and license as soon as you can get to it, and be sure to get pictures of theirs as well.
All of this assumes you’re somewhere without your phone and without service. You can avoid all of this headache by logging into your insurance account and pulling up your ID card.
What to Do if You’re Unable to Get Another Driver’s Policy Info at the Scene of an Accident?
Get as much information as you possibly can. Take a picture of their license plate and their driver’s license. Get their contact information and the name of their insurer, too.
If the other driver sped off, you’re in a trickier situation — but don’t panic. Most insurers will cover hit-and-runs, especially if you have uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage.
Read on for more helpful car insurance tips:
- How to Find the Cheapest SUV Insurance
- Beginner Car Insurance: A Simple Guide for First-Time Buyers
- Top 5 Ways to Lower Car Insurance Rates
- Does Car Insurance Cover Repairs?
- Does Car Insurance Cover Flood Damage?
- What is an Auto Insurance Score & Where to Find Yours
- Everything to Know About Reinsurance
- What is an Insurance Deductible?
- When to Drop Collision Insurance? Tips & Considerations
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Kacie Goff is an insurance writer for FIXD. Over the last ten years, she’s covered both personal and commercial coverage — specializing in auto and home insurance — for Bankrate, Policygenius, The Simple Dollar, local insurance providers, and more.