While it may seem a bit odd, there are situations in which you might need to determine if a vehicle has car insurance. Some situations when you might not know if a car has insurance include:

  • You inherited a vehicle from a family member.
  • You’re going through a divorce.
  • You’re taking over the finances of an elderly relative.

In these situations, you may not know if there’s coverage on the vehicle. Plus, even if it’s insured, you may be in the dark about which car insurance company wrote the policy.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about tracking down the auto insurance information for a vehicle.

Does my car have insurance?

Before you hit the road in any car, you should know if the vehicle is insured.

It’s illegal in almost every state to drive without auto insurance. Beyond the legal issues, if you’re in an accident while driving an uninsured vehicle, you’ll be financially responsible for any damage you cause.

You must also provide auto insurance information to register a car, renew the plate and change ownership. That makes knowing if the vehicle is insured extremely important.

How to find out if a car has insurance?

When it comes to finding out if a vehicle is insured, there are a few things you can quickly check to find insurance details. After that, the search may get a bit more complicated.

Either way, the more information you have about the vehicle, the better. If possible, track down the: 

  • VIN number (vehicle identification number)
  • License plate 
  • Registration

If you have access to the vehicle and the owner’s financial records, which would be possible if you inherited a car or dealing with an elderly relative’s finances for them, you may be able to determine if the car is insured quickly.

Car insurance estimator tool

Here are a couple of places to check:

Look in the vehicle for proof of insurance

Most people have at least one auto insurance card in their car. Even if it’s expired, there’s a good chance the vehicle is still insured with the same company.

Check the:

  • Glove box
  • Center console
  • Visor 
  • Anywhere else you think of where car insurance information may be stored

If you find proof of insurance, call the insurer to ensure coverage is current.

Review financial documents

If you’re taking over your parents’ or other family members’ finances, reviewing their financial documents will often help you track down the insurance company’s information.

If you see a monthly or annual payment to an insurance company, call them to ensure the insurance policy is still in force and get coverage details.

Check emails

If possible, review the vehicle owner’s emails for any correspondence from insurance companies. Contact the insurer for more car insurance policy details if you find anything.

If you don’t have access to the vehicle’s inside or the owner’s financial records, finding the car insurance company is still possible. It will just require a bit more legwork.

There’s no national database of insurance or vehicle information in the U.S. It’s all done at the state level, which makes it a bit more difficult

Here are a few methods to try:

New insurance quote

If you have the vehicle’s VIN number and some basic details, an insurance agent may be able to help you out. You can check car insurance by VIN number because insurers typically run a CLUE report on a vehicle when writing a new car insurance policy to determine coverage lapses.

A CLUE report shows insurance details for a specific vehicle or person. CLUE stands for comprehensive loss underwriting exchange. It’s a database that allows automobile and homeowners insurance providers to exchange information about claims for property loss.

Unfortunately, not all insurance companies participate in CLUE, so this method isn’t guaranteed.

Secretary of State or DMV Office

This method may work, but it depends on the state and its policies about releasing information to the public. The Secretary of State or Department of Motor Vehicles may track insurance coverage information in many states.

Contact your local office to see if they keep tabs on insurance information and if that info is available to the public. In most cases, they check car insurance by number plate, so you’ll need the vehicle’s license plate or VIN number in question. A small fee may be charged as well.

Check with major auto insurance companies

There is a good chance that the vehicle is insured by a national insurance provider like Progressive, Allstate, State Farm or numerous other insurance companies that operate in your state.

Call a variety of insurers to see if there’s already a car insurance policy in place. You’ll need some basic information, such as the VIN or license plate number or the name and basic details of the vehicle owner.

Check with local police

This one also depends on local policies. Most police officers can check if a vehicle is insured as driving without insurance is a serious driving infraction. Whether they release that information to you depends on the local policies, but it doesn’t hurt to check.

How to find out if a car is insured after an accident?

Another situation where you may need to determine if a vehicle is insured is after an accident. If you’re involved in an accident, getting the other driver’s insurance information is essential. Here are a few tips on what information to gather after an accident.

Get a police report

You should always get a police report, even for small accidents. It will help if you have to file a claim. The police also gather a wide array of information about both the vehicles and drivers, which can help find insurance information.

Gather info

After an accident:

  1. Collect as much information as possible about the other vehicle and driver
  2. Jot down the license plate number and their driver’s license number, name, address and phone number, if possible
  3. Take photos and video of the damage to both vehicles from numerous angles.

Ask the other driver

Ask the other driver for their car insurance information. In most cases, they will gladly provide you with their policy details. In other cases, they may not be insured, have car insurance that expired or don’t have their insurance information with them at the time.

In this case, you may have to dig to find their insurance information. Check with the police officer. They should be able to pull that information. You can also call their insurance company if they know its name but not the policy details.

If the other driver provides their insurance details, it’s always a good idea to call their insurance company at the accident scene to verify their coverage is in force.

Uninsured driver

Contact your insurance company for coverage if the other driver is without insurance, but you’ll need to carry uninsured driver coverage. In most states, uninsured driver coverage isn’t required. So, if you’re not carrying uninsured driver coverage, you’ll be on the hook for the cost of repairs.

Not knowing if a vehicle is adequately insured can become a major legal and financial headache if you hit the road in an uninsured vehicle. So, always verify insurance coverage before driving a car.

Laura Longero

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Laura Longero

Executive Editor

Laura is an award-winning editor with experience in content and communications covering auto insurance and personal finance. She has written for several media outlets, including the USA Today Network. She most recently worked in the public sector for the Nevada Department of Transportation.

John McCormick

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John McCormick

Editorial Director

John is the editorial director for CarInsurance.com, Insurance.com and Insure.com. Before joining QuinStreet, John was a deputy editor at The Wall Street Journal and had been an editor and reporter at a number of other media outlets where he covered insurance, personal finance, and technology.

Leslie Kasperowicz

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Leslie Kasperowicz

Managing Editor

Leslie Kasperowicz is an insurance educator and content creation professional with nearly two decades of experience first directly in the insurance industry at Farmers Insurance and then as a writer, researcher, and educator for insurance shoppers writing for sites like ExpertInsuranceReviews.com and InsuranceHotline.com and managing content, now at CarInsurance.com.

Nupur Gambhir

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Nupur Gambhir

Managing Editor

Nupur Gambhir is a content editor and licensed life, health, and disability insurance expert. She has extensive experience bringing brands to life and has built award-nominated campaigns for travel and tech. Her insurance expertise has been featured in Bloomberg News, Forbes Advisor, CNET, Fortune, Slate, Real Simple, Lifehacker, The Financial Gym, and the end-of-life planning service.

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Contributing Researcher

Mark is a freelance journalist and analyst with over 15 years of experience covering the insurance industry. He has extensive experience creating and editing content on a variety of subjects with deep expertise in insurance and automotive writing. He has written for autos.com, carsdirect.com, DARCARS and Madtown Designs to name just a few. He is also a professional blogger and a skilled web content creator who consistently turns out engaging, error-free writing while juggling multiple projects.