Reasons Not to Use a Fake Auto Insurance Card

Car key sitting on money
••• ozgurcankaya/E+/Getty Images

Almost every state in the U.S. requires car owners to carry auto insurance. But what if there was a way to get out of paying for coverage? There really isn’t, but that won’t stop people—and scam artists—from trying. 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 literally dozens of websites offering them, along with fake college diplomas, birth certificates, employment records, bank statements, marriage licenses, etc. Resist this option, tempting as it may be, because using such a fake document can get you into a lot of trouble.

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 she's doing. But what if you don't realize that your fake card is fake? You see, there are some people out there with websites set up, 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, albeit often at a too-good-to-be-true rate.

The trouble is that whether you intend to cheat or you've been cheated yourself, 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. Fraud it is, nevertheless. And illegal.

Just 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 penalties for driving without insurance that can amount to hundreds and, in some states, thousands of dollars. You will also face suspension or revocation of your driver's license and/or vehicle registration. And all that's before we get to the fraud part, which in many jurisdictions will land you in jail, sometimes on convictions of several years.

Getting Into an Accident

Fake insurance is not going to pay a claim, no matter how realistic your fake card appears. That seems obvious, doesn't it? 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 line 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. In order to register a vehicle and get your tags, many states today require proof of insurance in two ways: your insurance ID card and a notice sent by the insurance company directly to the DMV.

Further, insurance carriers are required by law to immediately notify the state Department of Motor Vehicles (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 in interconnectivity between state databases, which means that you still stand a good chance of getting caught if you use a fake insurance card even if you're out of your home state.

If You've Been Conned

If you've obtained a card online, but now suspect its legitimacy, don't delay. Contact the insurance company listed on your card immediately but 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 legit car insurance, you run the risk of a big monetary loss at best, and jail time at worst.