How to Get Car Insurance

Image shows a man driving a red van whistling, with dice hanging from his rearview mirror. Text reads: "The paperwork needed for car insurance: social security number; declaration page; voided check; driver's license; bank info; vehicle info (including VIN)"

Image by Nez Riaz © The Balance 2020

Even in our increasingly digital world, getting car insurance can require a good deal of paperwork. Not only will you need to provide lots of information to get a price quote and ultimately receive your policy, but the insurance company you use will also give you several documents when they insure you.

Vehicle Information

Of course, your insurance company wants to know exactly which vehicle they are insuring. You’ll need to have your vehicle identification number (VIN), which is usually found on the driver's side of the dashboard (the easiest way to spot it is to look through the windshield) or inside the door frame on the driver’s side. It is also noted on your car's title and existing car insurance policy, if applicable.

You should also know the year, make, and model of the vehicle, any safety and anti-theft equipment or devices that are on the car and that could lower the cost of your premiums, and your best estimate of the number of miles you'll be driving the vehicle each year. You may also be asked the date when the vehicle was purchased.

You will need to present your car's registration to show that your ownership of the vehicle has been recorded by the state in which you live.

Current Declaration Page

If you have a current car insurance policy, you will want to provide your current declaration page to the insurance company you are getting a quote from. The declaration page will provide proof that you have insurance on your car, and it will let the insurance agent providing the quote know what sort of coverage you currently have on your vehicle.

Driver Information

Your insurance carrier will probably request a copy of your driver’s license as well as a copy of the license of any driver who will be covered by the policy. Companies can use a driver's license number to access your Motor Vehicle Report (MVR) driving record and uncover any history of accidents or moving violations. They will also get a Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) report to check on any auto insurance claims you have filed.

The number of years covered in an MVR varies from state to state, but most go back three to seven years.

The insurance company will need your home address and the address where the car will be parked, if it's different, because the location where your car is kept is used when determining your premiums.

An insurer may also want the Social Security numbers (SSNs) of all people who will be driving the vehicle because having access to SSNs makes it easier to find other information.

Credit and Bank Information

Insurance companies will likely run a credit check before they decide to insure you, and they will also be looking to see whether you have a history of making late payments. In addition, you should have a voided check—or at least your checking account number and bank's routing number—handy if you want to set up an automatic payment plan.

Discount Verification

Car insurance companies offer discounts on premiums if you are a safe driver, homeowner, honor student, or member of an affinity organization, among other types of savings. The MVR will cover your driving safety record, but you'll need to offer proof for the other types of discounts.

Different insurers may accept different documents for proof of home ownership, but a homeowner's insurance policy, deed, or property tax records should suffice. If you are looking to get a good student discount, you must provide a current report card. And you will need to show a membership card, pay stub, or other proof of affinity if you're looking to get a discount because you're a member of a certain organization, graduated from a particular college or university, or are employed by a specific company.

Paperwork From Your Insurance Carrier

Insurance companies not only request paperwork from you, they also send it to you. You will need to hold on to these important pieces of information.

Car Insurance Policy

Your car insurance policy provides you with all of the information regarding your coverage. Car insurance policies can be lengthy, but make sure you take the time to read and understand yours fully.

Declaration Page

The declaration page has all of your pertinent information listed in an easier-to-read format. The declaration page should be your go-to paper when you have questions about your coverage and cost of insurance.

Proof of Insurance

Keep your proof of insurance in a safe place within the vehicle. You will need to show it to a law enforcement officer in the event you are pulled over for any reason or are involved in an accident.

Article Sources

  1. CARFAX. "What’s a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)?" Accessed April 25, 2020.

  2. Insurance Information Institute. "What Information Do I Need to Give to My Agent or Company?" Accessed April 25, 2020.

  3. The Zebra. "Car Insurance Quotes 101." Accessed April 25, 2020.

  4. Allstate. "Ask an Agent: What Documents Should I Bring When I Meet With an Agent?" Accessed April 25, 2020.

  5. The Zebra. "Do Car Insurance Companies Share Information?" Accessed April 25, 2020.

  6. Good Egg. "Frequently Asked Questions About MVR Checks." Accessed April 25, 2020.

  7. The Zebra. "Car Insurance Without a Social Security Number." Accessed April 25, 2020.

  8. Insurance Information Institute. "Nine Ways to Lower Your Auto Insurance Costs." Accessed April 25, 2020.

  9. Geico. "Obtaining Proof of Insurance and Insurance ID Cards." Accessed April 25, 2020.