Almost every state in the U.S. requires car owners to carry auto insurance. But that doesn't stop people—and scam artists—from trying to get by without it. The latest scheme, which is appearing alarmingly often on the internet, is concocting fraudulent proof of insurance and having folks use it in lieu of real coverage.
All it takes is a quick Google of "printable fake auto insurance cards" to find dozens of websites offering them, along with fake college diplomas, birth certificates, employment records, bank statements, marriage licenses, and more. Resist this option, tempting as it may be, because using any such fake document can get you into a lot of trouble.
- Those who use a fake insurance card risk consequences ranging from losing driving privileges to jail time.
- If you get into a crash without proper insurance, you'll be liable to pay for damages yourself.
- Insurance providers contact the DMV when someone's policy lapses, so fake cards won't help when an authority checks your information with their database.
- If you're worried you may have been given a fraudulent insurance card instead of a real one, you can call the insurance company or your state's insurance division.
Not Just About Cheaters
It's not hard to understand that using a fake insurance card is wrong. Anyone who purposely seeks one online, prints it out, and carries it around as if it is real knows what they're doing.
But what if you don't realize that your card is fake? There are some websites out there designed, not to help you cheat on your insurance, but to cheat you into believing that you have legitimate coverage. Many use the brand names and logos of real insurers, ones that you would recognize and trust instantly, or fiendishly close soundalikes. These sites rarely stay operational for long, but it's long enough to rip off plenty of honest drivers who think they've purchased a legitimate policy, even if the rate is often too good to be true.
The trouble is that whether you're the cheater or the cheated, using a fake auto insurance card is still considered fraud.
Can You Say Insurance Fraud?
This is not insurance fraud the way most people think of it, which is where an accident is staged or someone files a phony or exaggerated claim involving a legitimate policy or insurer. But it's fraud, nonetheless. And it's illegal.
Exactly what penalties you will face for brandishing a fake insurance card depends on where you live. At the very least, you will be looking at monetary fines for driving without insurance that can amount to hundreds or, in some states, thousands of dollars. You will also face suspension or revocation of your driver's license, vehicle registration, or both. And that's all before we get to the fraud itself, which in many jurisdictions will land you in jail, sometimes for several years.
Getting Into an Accident
Fake insurance is not going to pay a claim, no matter how realistic your fake card appears. You may be able to avoid criminal and monetary penalties if you thought you had purchased real insurance and presented your card in good faith. But it's going to be a big hassle proving it, and you are still going to be on the hook for the costs of any damages or injuries resulting from your negligence—costs that could add up to tens of thousands of dollars or more.
The DMV Knows
The successful use of a fake insurance card is temporary, at best, and limited to those situations where a vehicle is pulled over and the law enforcement officer makes a cursory check that the driver has coverage. Beyond that, it's not going to work. insurance carriers are required by law to immediately notify the state DMV if a vehicle policy lapses. So, if you let your legitimate policy go and start using a fake insurance card, your DMV will catch up with you in due course.
In addition, there is a trend toward interconnectivity between state databases, which means that you still stand a good chance of getting caught if you use a fake insurance card even when you're out of your home state.
If You've Been Conned
If you've obtained a card online but now doubt its legitimacy, don't delay. Contact the insurance company listed on your card immediately—and directly, not through the agent or website you used to purchase it. You may also try contacting your state DMV or insurance department. Remember, every day you go without legitimate car insurance, you run the risk of a big monetary loss at best, and jail time at worst.