What is An Insurance Binder? Everything You Need to Know

An insurance binder is a temporary policy document given when official policy documents are not being issued yet. It is needed when providing proof of insurance for car financing and is provided by the insurance company. A car insurance binder can last up to 60 days while the full policy is being issued.

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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® Joel Ohman

UPDATED: May 4, 2022

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Insurance binders are temporary insurance policy documents that are issued while a full policy is being underwritten
  • Insurance binders have all the coverage of normal insurance but only last a short time of 30 to 60 days, or until the full policy is available
  • An insurance binder is needed when waiting for a full policy to be established and can be requested from the insurance company as needed

When getting car insurance, there can sometimes be difficulties in getting your policy information right away. This can cause issues when you’re trying to drive a new car off the lot or trying to get a car loan from a bank. Luckily, that’s where insurance binders come in.

But what’s an insurance binder? How do I get an insurance binder? What does it do for me? When do I even need one? These are all important questions that can be answered in detail in this article.

To begin your journey of getting good car insurance and put your knowledge of insurance binders to use, enter your ZIP code into our free tool to compare insurance quotes today.

What is an insurance binder?

An insurance binder is a temporary insurance policy document that gives you coverage while your policy is being issued. Sometimes issuing a new policy can take days or even over a week, leaving you uncovered. An insurance binder allows you to have proof of insurance and make claims in the meantime if you need to. This proof of insurance can be used for things like car loans or in the place of full policy information documents when filing a claim.

Insurance binders last 30-60 days or until the official documents for your insurance policy arrive.

If you aren’t issued this document immediately by your insurance company, you can request it to be sent to you via mail or email to act as proof of insurance. Just like normal insurance documents, it costs you nothing to be sent an insurance binder by your chosen insurance company.  Often, the document will simply be supplied without you having to ask for it.

Insurance binders don’t guarantee full-term coverage and don’t replace normal insurance. Instead, they act as a go-between, much like a temporary paper license received at the DMV when a license is being sent through the mail. More than anything, insurance binders are meant for things like letting you drive off the lot in a new car legally or providing proof of insurance on short notice.

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What Insurance Binders Include

Insurance binders have a lot of information, some of which may not even be on a standard insurance card. Templates can even be found online of insurance binders to give an idea of what they look like. This information includes:

  • Binder number (the policy number)
  • Effective date
  • Insured people
  • Insurance company information and contact numbers
  • Full coverage details
  • Deductible information
  • Rates
  • Terms and conditions
  • Lender information in the case of a loan

This is all the important information needed for any insurance plan. It can take one to two pages to convey all of this information. Feel free to go over all of it with your insurance company if necessary. From there, keep the document close by for recordkeeping or make copies of it to send to any company that needs the information, such as your loan provider.

Types of Insurance Binders

Not all forms of insurance use insurance binders in the absence of a full policy. Insurance binders are not often given out these days at all because of how quickly full policy information can be sent virtually. Health insurance, for example, cannot give you temporary policy information like an insurance binder because of authorization issues for care.

The most common types of insurance binders are auto insurance binders and homeowners insurance binders. There are also insurance binders for commercial property insurance.

These binders all simply act as proof of insurance and contact information should it be needed while your policy is being issued. The binders themselves don’t change between types as they are all one general structure. Certain information will always remain on all forms of insurance binders, with the difference being what specific insurance is being displayed on it.

What Insurance Binders Cover

Insurance binders are the same as regular insurance policies in terms of coverage. The only real difference is that they are temporary. They should have coverage and information according to what you applied for. Each plan will have different coverage and associated information that can be discussed with your company at the time the insurance is purchased. Check with your insurance company as needed if the policy looks different than discussed.

Like all insurance, the kind of coverage you get varies based on the plan you choose. Things like deductibles and level of coverage will depend on what you discuss with your insurance company and what you choose to purchase. For car insurance binders, this includes liability coverage or comprehensive coverage. Always make sure to get coverage fit to your needs or the specifications of the loan company.

It’s important to note that having a binder does not guarantee a policy will be issued. In the days before companies could verify your information electronically, binders were issued while the policy was being underwritten, as that took some time. If that process turned something up that you didn’t disclose, the policy could be voided at the binder’s expiration date. Since things like driving records and credit are now available to an insurer within minutes, this is now rare.

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When should you get an insurance binder?

You don’t always need an insurance binder. You can usually get by without one if you aren’t on a deadline for something like a car loan. Even in that situation, insurance companies can usually issue your policy electronically, thanks to today’s instant access to information. Insurance binders are no longer very common because of this.

However, it’s a good idea to get an insurance binder if you can’t get immediate access to your full policy. This is because there could be issues that require proof of insurance in the time that the full policy information isn’t available to you. This will also help if there are claim issues before the full policy information gets to you.

One example of such an issue would be that you can’t legally drive a car off the lot when you buy it until it’s been insured. This is for safety and legal reasons that the dealership your car is purchased from may discuss with you. Again, most insurance companies today can issue electronic proof of insurance, but in rare cases, a binder may still be used.

There’s also always the possibility of something happening to your vehicle during the time you’re waiting for your official documents to arrive. While you can still file an insurance claim and will be covered, it’s important to have proof of insurance on you, especially when driving, to comply with state laws.

Where can you get an insurance binder?

Insurance binders are provided by insurance companies. You can request one at no charge to you if it isn’t already offered. You can receive a physical copy by mail or a virtual copy to your email. Virtual copies are easier and faster to receive, so this may be the better option. Contact the company as needed to find out more about their specific process.

Just make sure to update any company you gave the insurance binder information to with your full policy information once it is made available to you. While an insurance binder can be good for up to 60 days, it becomes void regardless of how much time there is left on it once your full policy arrives and goes into effect. This means updating your documentation on time is very important.

Last Words on Insurance Binders

Now that you’ve learned everything you can about insurance binders, getting insurance of your own will be much easier. Knowing what to look for and how to get an insurance binder in the case of issues with getting your full policy information is essential when dealing with insurance companies. The more you know, the better the insurance you can get for yourself.

If you need a binder or want immediate proof of insurance, you can shop online right now. Enter your ZIP code here today and start getting great comparison quotes from quality car insurance companies.

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