How To Obtain Proof Of Insurance
"Proof of insurance" is just what it sounds like: It’s a record that shows you meet your state’s requirements for vehicle insurance. Requirements vary from state to state, but nearly all states require that you demonstrate some form of financial responsibility.
By law you must prove that you are able to pay for property damage and physical injuries your vehicle causes. This is called financial responsibility, or liability. Each state sets its own liability minimums, so if you aren’t sure how much coverage you need, visit the Auto Insurance Requirements page.
Acceptable Forms of Proof of Insurance
Most people cover their liability with an insurance policy, and the most common form of proof of insurance is the card the insurance company sends.
In some states the preferred form of proof of insurance is an electronic database to which insurance companies send your insurance information directly. Even if you live in an electronic reporting state, you should keep your insurance card in your vehicle as a backup.
Alternatives to Insurance
If you do not wish to purchase an insurance policy, many states will allow you to prove financial responsibility in one of two ways:
- Make a large deposit with the state treasurer. The amount varies by state and can run from $25,000 to $100,000.
- Secure a bond with a surety company authorized to do business in your state.
If you take one of these options, you will need to keep a certificate of your deposit or bond with you as proof of insurance.
When You Must Show Proof of Insurance
You need to present proof of insurance in the following instances:
- When you register your vehicle (in many states).
- If you are in an accident.
- If an officer pulls your over or asks for proof at any other time.
Consequences of Having No Proof of Insurance
Don't take the penalties for having no proof of insurance lightly. Penalties vary by state but can include the following:
- A fine.
- Jail time.
- Registration and license suspension.
Before you can reinstate your registration or license, you need to present proof of insurance. In most states, this proof comes in the form of an SR-22.
What is an SR-22?
An SR-22 is a document stating that you have insurance that covers at least the minimum liability requirements of your state. You may be required to have an SR-22 if you:
- Have a DUI or other serious moving violation.
- Are at fault in an accident and do not have insurance.
- Have too many traffic offenses.
- Have your license or registration revoked for any other reason.
You will be required to keep the SR-22 for a certain period of time, usually 3 years. As long as the SR-22 is in effect, you must maintain at least the minimum insurance requirements of the state in which it was issued, even if you move to another state. If at any time during this period your insurance coverage lapses or is canceled, you will lose your license or registration again.
SR-22 requirements vary from state to state, so check with your insurance company for more information, especially if you plan on moving to another state.