What do I need to get car insurance?

To get car insurance, most car insurance companies require (1) a driver's license, (2) basic information about your driving history, and (3) insurable interest in the car.

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A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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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: Sep 15, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • When you’re getting a quote for insurance, you’ll need basic information to find out how much you might pay for coverage
  • Before buying car insurance, be sure that you have an insurable interest in that car so that claims aren’t denied
  • Knowing the dates of accidents and recent violations can help you keep your quotes as accurate as possible

When you buy auto insurance you enter into a legally binding contract. This contract says that the policyholder will pay premiums for coverage and the insurer will pay for claims that are presented against the policy while it’s in effect.

The insurance company has a lot of money on the line when they agree to extend coverage to you. Because of this, the company’s representative will ask you for a long list of information to properly underwrite and rate your policy.

Auto insurance is probably not the most exciting product to shop for, but you don’t have to spend all of your free time to find the right policy.

Compare car insurance rates now by using our FREE tool now! Enter your zip code above to get started!

You Can’t Buy Insurance on Just Any Car

It’s not common for people to want to insure just any car. Even if you did, you wouldn’t be able to because of the contract’s “insurable interest” requirement.

The entire purpose of property insurance is to compensate the policyholder for losses that affect them financially. Anyone who would suffer financial loss after an insured loss is said to have

Anyone who would suffer financial loss after an insured loss is said to have insurable interest. This is most often the owner of the car, but could also be a lessee, a family member or a creditor.

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The License Requirement

Not all types of auto insurance policies have the same requirements. If you have an insurable interest in a vehicle but don’t have a license, this could pose problems as you look for affordable insurance.

Almost all insurance companies require the policyholder to hold a valid license before they’re eligible to start a policy.

Since it’s possible to own a car and not actually hold a license, there are ways to get insurance without having an active driver license.

Here are some of your options:

  • You can use a foreign or international driving privilege to satisfy requirements
  • As long as you don’t have a license by choice, you can buy insurance on a car by listing a primary driver
  • You can apply for a special SR-22 insurance policy if your license is currently suspended or revoked
  • Find a company that will allow the primary driver to insure the vehicle if they live out of your household
  • You can transfer ownership of the vehicle to a family member and add it to their policy

Prior Car Insurance Information

If you already have coverage, any company that you’re getting quotes through will ask for information on your prior insurance policy. There are a few reasons for this.

First, insurers prefer to do business with drivers who already had coverage so they have access to their claims records.

Another reason prior insurance is important is that it shows the driver complies with the law. Being responsible will put you in a better risk class. You may even get a prior insurance discount.

Drivers who allow their insurance lapse will be placed into a high-risk driver class where they’ll pay a higher rate.

Here’s what you’ll need to provide:

  • Insurance company name
  • Policy number
  • Effective dates and how long you’ve been with the insurer
  • Letter of experience to verify active coverage

What You’ll Need for an Accurate Car Insurance Quote

If you have an insurable interest and a driver license, it’s time to proceed with getting a quote. You might not need all of the numbers and the exact dates of infractions just to get price estimates, but having this can definitely help you avoid a misquote.

Misquotes happen when you don’t paint the big picture or you provide inaccurate information that must be corrected during underwriting.

Misquotes are only prohibited when an agent provides them intentionally and you can prove it. Since this is difficult to prove, you should make it your duty to get the most accurate quotes by providing the most accurate information possible.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Vehicle year, make, model, body type
  • VIN for each vehicle
  • Lender or lessee on the vehicle
  • Driving habits and primary use
  • Commuter miles and annual miles
  • Safety features installed in the vehicle (anti-theft)
  • Driver license status of vehicles in home
  • Age or all drivers and driver assignments
  • Number of years of driving experience for all drivers
  • Vehicle garaging zip code
  • Occupation and education level of all drivers
  • Driver safety training date
  • Good student discount information for drivers under 25
  • Accident history
  • Moving violation and serious infraction history
  • Credit history information

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Selecting an Effective Date

Once you compare rates and you’re decided on the policy that you want, you’ll need to decide when you want your policy to start and how you want to pay.

The policy effective date is when the policy will begin to protect you.

If you’re canceling another policy, be sure your cancellation date matches the effective date that you select. This will help you avoid expensive lapses in coverage.

Choosing a Payment Option

If you pay your policy in full at time of inception, you might be able to get a paid-in-full discount. Many companies also offer quarterly, semi-annual and monthly options.

If you want your payments deducted from your account, be sure to set up Auto-Pay with a canceled check or credit card.

Consumers who don’t want to contact several insurers in a single day have the option to use an online comparison tool. By accessing this tool, you can enter the information above and get multiple quotes at once.

Sift through the quotes and pick the best one. Enter your zip code in our FREE tool below to compare car insurance rates now!


  1. https://oci.wi.gov/pub_list/pi-057.pdf
  2. https://thismatter.com/money/insurance/insurable-interest.htm
  3. https://carinsurance.about.com/od/High-Risk-Insurance/a/How-To-Get-Insurance-Without-A-License.htm
  4. https://carinsurance.about.com/od/High-Risk-Insurance/a/What-Is-A-High-Risk-Driver.htm
  5. https://www.insureuonline.org/consumer_auto_faqs.htm
  6. https://www.consumer.gov/articles/1009-your-credit-history
  7. https://carinsurance.about.com/od/RulesofThumb/a/How-To-Cancel-Car-Insurance.htm

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