How to Use a Policy Number to Identify an Insurance Company

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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...

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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...

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Reviewed byJoel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Feb 15, 2018

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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 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

The ability to identify a car insurance company with only a policy number may become important when you are involved in an accident.

A problem that regularly occurs is that people in this situation forget to exchange the proper information, most commonly insurance information, or they don’t get the complete information.

After all is said and done, they only have a policy number and a license plate number and no name or insurance company name.

Eventually, 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 report an accident within 24 hours of occurrence, leaving you in a tough situation.

So, how do you identify a car insurance company with only a 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 that you are looking for.

We’ll get into these suggestions 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:

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 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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Call Your Insurance Agent

Up close of phone user with coffee

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 auto 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 with this problem.

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Call Different Insurance Companies

While this step may be a bit time-consuming because in every state there are dozens of auto 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 more well-known 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.

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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.

Ask Your Insurance Company


If all else fails, discuss your options with your insurance carrier. Their response to the problem will depend on 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.

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

To make sure that this happens, always keep a notebook with your insurance information to write down information in. Also, before putting the notebook in your glove box, write down the information that you need, kind of like creating your own form.

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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Finding 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 auto 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 auto insurance.

It will take about ten 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.

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