How to Use a Policy Number to Identify a Car Insurance Company

Learning how to use a policy number to identify a car insurance company can help if you are in an accident and don’t have all of the other driver’s information. Auto insurance policy number formats differ for each car insurance company so the best way to find an insurance company by policy number is to contact a licensed professional who can check into it.

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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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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Dec 28, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Because of the stress involved in a car accident, many people forget to get the complete and proper information from the other party
  • If all you received was a policy number, you might have a hard time finding out who the insurance company is
  • There are steps you can take before an accident to be prepared and help you remember what to do in the event of an accident

Do you know how to use a policy number to identify a car insurance company? The ability to identify a car insurance company via policy number search may become important when you are involved in an accident.

People forget to exchange proper information, most commonly insurance information, or else they don’t get the complete information only the insurance company policy number and a license plate number and no name or insurance company name.

You will be able to access that information when the police report is filed (if the accident was serious enough to require calling the police, that is) but until then you don’t have the information.

Most insurance companies require that you have to report a car accident within 24 hours of occurrence, leaving you in a tough situation.

So, how do you look up an insurance company by policy number? It’s not easy. There is no national database of insurance company policies, which means you can’t simply look up the information.

Understanding your car insurance policy is important in making sure you are paying affordable car insurance rates. Make sure you have the right car insurance policy for your needs.

Before learning how to find an insurance company by policy number, enter your ZIP code in our comparison tool for free car insurance quotes.

How do I find a car insurance company by policy number?

What is a policy number? Your policy number is just a way to identify your specific policy. You know how these work, it’s just like an account number or your very own social security number. It’s specific to only you.

Can you check an insurance policy by policy number?

We’ll get into these suggestions on how to search by policy number in more depth below, but here is a quick reference for steps you can take when you have a policy number but no company information:

Finding a Car Insurance Company Based Only on a Number
Steps to take:What to do:
Call Your AgentReport the accident. It's possible the other party is insured by the same provider, in which case your agent would recognize the number
Call Different Insurance CompaniesAlthough it seems like a needle in a haystack, it is possible to give the policy number to different agencies to see if it's one of their numbers
Contact the DMVOften, they will be unable to provide any information for you, but it's worth trying in case they can.
Ask Your Insurer to Put a Hold on the ClaimWhen the police report is filed, you will be able to request it and find the insurance information you need. Unfortunately, this process takes longer than most insurance companies allow for receiving this information.
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But what happens if you don’t have the right information. Can you look up someone’s insurance policy with just the number? 

The first thing you need to do is to make sure you have the complete policy number. Verify that you have the entire number.

Some companies use letters in their policy numbers as state identifiers or to specify the policy type. While you may see an auto insurance policy number format with an example like “ABCD 123456789,” you shouldn’t ever see a mixture of letters and numbers like “12C64R8333KK992L.”

A combination of 17 letters and numbers is most likely the vehicle’s VIN number, not a policy number.

What does a policy number look like? Carfax notes that each new car since 1981 has actually had a 17-digit code for the VIN number. If you see a 17-digit number, you’re not looking at the policy for car insurance.

So what do car insurance policy numbers look like?

Although the length varies by company, most policy numbers are nine to ten digits long.

Auto insurance policy prefixes help to show which company it belongs to. This helps in identifying an insurance company by policy number.

There are also some websites you might be able to use to help you in your search. They have some auto insurance companies and their policy prefix information listed.

Can you call your car insurance agent with the policy number?

The first thing that you will want to do is call your insurance agent and explain the situation. At the very least, you will have reported the accident, and there is always the possibility that the policy number you have is from your insurance company.

Some agents have worked at other insurance companies in the past and may recognize the start of the series as belonging to a specific company.

If you used an independent agent to purchase your car insurance then they may recognize which company uses the series of numbers that you have. Independent agents work with many different companies, so they may be able to help you lookup insurance policy numbers.

Should you call different car insurance companies with the policy number?

How do I find someone’s insurance company? Can I call around as part of the insurance policy number search?

While this step may be a bit time-consuming because in every state there are dozens of car insurance companies, you can start calling different insurance companies to see if the policy number you possess is in their system.

You need to make it clear that you don’t need the name of the person the policy belongs to; you only need to determine the company to which it belongs.

You will want to start with the best auto insurance companies and then work your way down to those that are smaller or lesser-known. Hopefully, you will be able to find the information that you need that way. If not, then there is another thing that you can try.

Can you contact the DMV with the car insurance policy number?

Try the government route as a last resort. As a last resort, you can contact your local DMV or vehicle registration office to see if they will provide you with the information that you need.

The reason that this should be the last resort is that it is very likely that you will not get the information that you need from them due to privacy laws.

Some states keep all insurance policies for every vehicle in a database so they can ensure that the vehicles that are registered in their states are insured.

Other states, however, rely on the insurance companies to inform them via mail, phone, or digitally when someone chooses to cancel their policy. This means that some states simply won’t have that information.

You can try a vehicle registration search with the license plate number and the make and model of the car to see if that will yield any results, but again, there may be privacy issues involved.

In some cases, these entities will provide your insurance agent with the information if they call trying to verify a car involved in an accident.

Should you ask your car insurance company for help searching with the policy number?

If all else fails, discuss your options with your insurance company. Their response to the problem will depend a great deal on company policy.

Some may be willing to file the accident report and put it on hold until you receive a copy of the police report with the full details of the other vehicle. (You are going to have to request this, by the way, it isn’t automatically given to you.)

Some companies simply won’t be that flexible and how they handle it will be by the book. You can learn the details by speaking to an agent at your insurance company.

How can you avoid having to search for a car insurance company in the future?

Of course, to avoid this problem, getting all of the information that you need at the time of the accident is the key.

What insurance details do you need in a car accident?

Make sure you get all of the information for any involved drivers when you are in a car accident. To make sure that this happens, always keep a notebook with your insurance information to write down information in.

You’ll need their name, phone number, policy number, insurance agent name and number, the insurance company, vehicle year make and model, and license plate number.

Make sure to file a police report when possible.

This will ensure that you don’t have to think too hard at the time of the accident.

Another idea to keep in mind is to take a picture of the other party’s insurance card. You will have all the information you need about their policy in that picture.

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Why do you need to know information about your car insurance policy number?

You may need your auto policy number for a variety of reasons, including if you are in an accident or need to get more information from your car insurance company.

Where can you find your car insurance policy number?

You can find your auto policy number on your car insurance car, the policy itself, or in an app or website your company uses. You can also contact your agent if you have one to get the number.

How do you use your car insurance policy number in an accident?

You will send your policy number, as well as information about the car insurance company, to the police and other drivers. This policy number ties you to the auto insurance company and will be used to move the claims process forward.

How can you find the best car insurance coverage?

Before you have an accident, which, unfortunately, happens even to the most careful of drivers, you should ensure that you have the best car insurance coverage possible for your vehicle. Choosing the right coverage at a price you can afford has never been easier than it is today.

With our free rate quote tool, you can quickly compare rates between several companies and get the lowest rate possible for your car insurance.

It will take about 10 minutes of your time and you will be able to see rates from many different companies for different levels of coverage allowing you to make an educated choice about your insurance.

The best way to save on your own car insurance policy is to shop around. Now that you know how to identify an auto insurance company by policy number, enter your ZIP code to get car insurance quotes now.

References:

  1. https://www.carfax.com/company/vehicle-identification-numbers-vins

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