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: Sep 15, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Your car insurance certificate is different from your insurance policy declaration’s page
  • A car insurance certificate acts as proof of insurance for the DMV or police
  • The appearance of a proof of insurance card will vary between insurance companies
  • To request a new insurance certificate, contact your insurance company

A car insurance certificate, also called proof of insurance or an insurance card, is a document proving that you carry auto insurance.

It is the document you will show to the DMV when registering a vehicle, and it is also what you will need to provide to the police in the event of an accident or if you are pulled over.

Even if you have insurance, you can be ticketed for driving without proof of insurance. As such, the car insurance certificate is one of the most valuable documents you can keep in your vehicle.

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Table of Contents

Is proof of insurance the same as my policy page?

When you purchase auto insurance, the insurance company will send you a policy “declarations” page. This is a document detailing the coverages you carry on your auto and explaining how your insurance works.

Your declarations page is not the same as proof of insurance, and the two cannot be used interchangeably.

In order to register your vehicle, you will need to present your proof-of-insurance card.

Each insurance company’s proof of insurance cards will look somewhat different. Despite the name, insurance cards are not always printed in card format.

More commonly, an insurance certificate will be printed on regular paper, sometimes taking up an entire page and sometimes small enough to fit into a wallet with minimal folding.

Some insurance companies offer virtual versions of insurance cards, which can be accessed through a mobile app. However, police departments and the DMV may not universally accept this form of ID.

Whenever possible, it’s best to obtain a printed card to carry in your wallet or keep in your glove compartment at all times.

The certificate of insurance will be printed with:

  • The name of the insurance company
  • The year, make, and model of the vehicle
  • The name and address of the insured
  • The vehicle’s VIN number
  • Contact or claims information for the insurance company
  • The expiration or effective date of the policy

The certificate of insurance will not show what type of coverage you carry, how much your policy costs, when it bills, or other related information.

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How do I get an insurance card?

Many insurance companies allow you to print your proof of insurance card right away.

Others may send you a card in the mail, meaning it could be several days before you can bring proof of insurance to the DMV.

At the end of each policy period, you will need to obtain a new insurance card.

Your insurance company may mail you a new one upon policy renewal, or you might need to contact them to ask for it.

In either case, it’s important to keep an up-to-date insurance certificate at all times.

If you need a replacement insurance certificate for any reason, you can obtain one by contacting your insurance company.

You may need to call to request an insurance card, or you may be able to request one online.

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