“How do I find out if my car is insured when I’m about to take ownership of it or when I forget who I insured it with?” It’s normal to get boxed into asking this question occasionally, especially when life throws certain situations at you.
It could be that you’re getting gifted a car that your family member has been driving and handling the insurance for some time now.
Or you could be going through an unpleasant divorce where you’ll have to settle for your partner’s car.
But you’re not sure if the car is insured or not.
And you’re not ready to be among the approximately 13% of drivers who move around without car insurance because of the heavy financial and legal dangers involved.
If caught driving without auto insurance, you could end up paying some hefty fees and going in for a painful jail time.
It gets worse when you engage in an accident that results in the injuries or death of someone while being an uninsured driver. The consequences would quickly degenerate from a civil offense into a criminal offense.
So, what do you do to avoid getting into this dark web?
Do not fret, as I have the answers for you. I’ll show you the exact steps to take to find out the auto insurance status of your car, but I won’t stop there.
I’ll also show you how to uncover the insurance status of a driver who collides with you in a hit-and-run accident, even if they’ve scurried away from the accident scene with no trace.
And then we’ll go over some common questions that pop up whenever this topic is being discussed.
Related: How to Get Car Insurance Easily
How do I find out if my car is insured?
Even if you simply forgot who you insured the car with or you have a hard time remembering the current insurance status of the car, simply follow these steps to find out if your car is insured or not.
Take note of all relevant information in the car
Search inside the car to fish out all relevant information such as the vehicle identification number, registration, license plate number, or the license plate number of the former driver.
You’ll need to organize and keep this information handy when reaching out to the appropriate authorities about your car insurance status.
If the car has a previous driver, you can find their insurance card in the car. It’s usually kept in the glove box, visor, or center dashboard.
Or you could request the most recent proof of insurance from the previous driver.
Go through bank statements
Another way of getting a lead regarding the insurance status of the car is to peruse your bank statements or the statements of the former driver.
Watch out for payments to insurance companies, well-known or not.
If premiums for the car were paid monthly, every six months, or yearly, check the predetermined timestamp for transactions linking to auto insurance carriers.
Call your insurance company or visit their website
Once you recognize an auto insurance company in the statement or any in-car documents, then you can easily reach out to them to know the insurance policies of your car.
Either you reach out to one of their insurance agents, the official website, or through the insurance app.
You’ll be informed of the type of policies the car has, how much coverage is in each policy, the premiums, frequency of payments, and any other information you ask.
Most times, you could have signed up for different insurance policies with more than one carrier. It’s okay to get in contact with each of them and be updated on your coverage information.
Visit a local police station
Depending on the local policies in your state, police officers could check the insurance status of a vehicle. Some states allow them and some states do not, since insurance laws are regulated at a state level, not a national level.
In states that allow it, police officers could check in with the relevant authorities to confirm if a car has insurance since driving without insurance is a serious offense against the state.
So, check in with your local police station and explain your situation to them. They will help you with it.
Confirm your insurance status from the Department of Motor Vehicles
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) keeps a record of car insurance information in several states.
You’re allowed to contact them regarding the insurance status of your vehicle. Bear in mind that you’ll need to produce a vehicle insurance number or a license plate. You might also be charged a small fee.
Depending on state laws that allow the release of such information to the public, you might get filled in on the current insurance status of your car.
Look in your email inbox
Your email inbox is a goldmine that holds the potential to reveal crucial correspondence with your insurer.
A quick scan through the inbox and spam folders of your email or that of the previous driver would reveal a back-and-forth conversation, newsletter, or notification from an auto insurance company.
If you find anyone, then you can reach out to that email address or whatever contact information you find.
Call popular car insurance companies
There are large and established auto insurance companies in almost every state. Each of these well-known carriers has contact or support desk information for prospective customers to reach out and make inquiries.
All of these popular companies also have insurance agents that can be called over the phone. Call a number of these car insurance companies and ask if they have car insurance for you or your loved ones. As a last resort, this tactic might just prove useful.
How to know if another driver’s car is insured in a hit-and-run accident
It’s pretty easy to walk up to relevant bodies like the DMV and ask if your car is insured. But, what if you get into an accident and the other driver hurriedly speeds off, leaving you with no way of contact to file a third-party claim?
How do you check if indeed the driver has insurance? The DMV doesn’t give you access to the insurance details of other drivers, only yours.
But there’s a way to make them let you know. Just follow the steps below.
Record as much information on the accident scene as possible
Immediately you get a hold of yourself after the accident, refrain from pursuing the runaway driver. Instead, take pictures of the damage to your car and other roadside properties.
This information will aid the claims adjuster of your insurer in filing a claim with the other driver’s liability insurance when the driver is found.
Also Read: What Is Car Liability Insurance?
Also, take pictures of the scene of the accident to provide a proper background and context to the auto mishap.
Ask bystanders and eyewitnesses what they know about the accident and record their responses with their permission.
You might be lucky to interview someone who captured the runaway driver’s license plate number.
Just record as many responses from kind passersby as you can. You would need it for the remaining steps.
File a crash report with the police
Head over to the police station and obtain a crash report. Present the pictures of the accident and the responses you recorded from eyewitnesses at the accident scene.
A crash report from the police adds a lot of weight to your pursuit of the insurance details of the other driver.
The police officer would add his comments and draft a report, containing other important tidbits of information like the cause of the accident, driver name, type of vehicle, and the state of the road at the accident scene.
Investigations would be carried out and the hit-and-run driver would be found in no distant time.
Take the crash report to the DMV
You’re going to take the crash report from the police station to the DMV office as you ask for the insurance information about the driver.
Ordinarily, your request would be rejected because there are privacy laws concerning driver information in the state that prevent you from accessing another driver’s insurance information.
It is at this point that you present your crash report and other investigation materials given to you by the police.
Only then would the DMV let you know if the driver has insurance or not because the crash report would add a lot of validity to your claims.
Inform your insurance company about the situation
Contact your insurer about the accident and update your agent on the actions you’ve taken to check the insurance status of the other driver.
Then present the information you’ve gotten from the DMV to your insurance company so they’ll follow it up from there with the other driver’s insurance company.
You’re going to work with your claims adjuster during the entire process of filing a claim against the liability coverage of the other driver.
How long does it take for car insurance to show on the database?
It takes anywhere within seven days for car insurance to show up on the database of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). All you have to do is send your proof of insurance and give it around seven days to be updated. You can also follow up with it.
Can you show proof of car insurance on your phone?
Yes, you can easily show proof of insurance on your phone whenever you’re pulled over by the police or at the DMV office. As a matter of fact, every state in the U.S. and Washington DC now allows drivers to show proof of insurance on the phone.
Can you go to jail for driving without insurance?
Aside from New Hampshire and Virginia, drivers can go to jail in all states if they move around without car insurance. Driving as an uninsured motorist is considered a misdemeanor, and can attract fines, withdrawal of license, and a good jail time.
Can police tell if you have car insurance?
Yes, police officers can tell if you have car insurance. They do that by scanning your license plate with an electronic verification system found inside their cars. That is the major way the police tell if drivers have valid car insurance or not.