A Social Security number (SSN) is a nine-digit number that is assigned to all American citizens at birth by the Social Security Administration and it is completely unique to you. Because the number is so personal, it is understandable (and wise) to be protective of it.

Giving out your Social Security number to the wrong person could result in identity theft and lots of hassle. There are times when giving out your SSN will be necessary like when you're applying for financing, getting a driver's license (in most states), applying for utility services and even when you're getting a quote for car insurance.

Let's talk about when auto insurance companies will ask for your Social Security number and why.

Do insurance companies need your Social Security number?

Not all car insurance companies ask you for your Social Security number (SSN) as part of the quoting or application process, but most will, especially if they are offering credit-based insurance rates.

CarInsurance.com partners with car insurance companies that check credit-based insurance scores as a factor in your insurance rate. There are also carriers, in some states, that don't use credit in their calculations. In California, Massachusetts and Hawaii, state law does not allow car insurance companies to use a credit score to determine rates.

Why do car insurance companies need your Social Security number?

Your Social Security number doesn't have much to do with your driving record, but it does help the insurer pull the reports that help determine your rates. 

The online insurance quote process has two steps: getting a quote and purchasing a policy.

One reason a Social Security number is usually required is that it makes it easier to pull reports that verify the information you have given during the quoting process and help finalize the actual premium amount you will pay. Auto insurance companies can use your name and home address to pull your motor vehicle record, but there they have a much higher accuracy if they also use your Social Security number.

Another reason your Social Security number may be needed is so the insurance company can run a credit check. Credit history has been shown to be a good predictor of insurance claims. Many auto insurance companies use insurance scores based on your credit report, and if your credit is not verifiable, you may pay a higher car insurance rate. Those carriers that don't require a Social Security number will use your address and name in order to calculate an insurance score.

Do I have to give my Social Security number for car insurance?

While it is certainly your right not to give your Social Security number to a potential car insurance company, it is important to know that refusing to provide that information can backfire in the form of higher insurance rates. If the car insurance provider offers credit-based insurance rates and they are unable to look at your credit report due to lack of an SSN, they may either decline your quote or offer you a higher rate. The same is true if they are unable to pull your motor vehicle record.

Insurance rates are all about risk assessment and not having those vital pieces of information inhibits the insurance company from accurately assessing your risk. As a result, they'll err on the side of caution and consider you higher-risk which will result in higher insurance rates. If you are looking for the best car insurance rates, giving the insurance company your Social Security number will be necessary.

Why would an insurance adjuster ask for my Social Security number?

It is not uncommon for an insurance adjuster to ask for a Social Security number as a security measure to ensure they are speaking with the right person. The Social Security number also may be used to check their database for prior claims.

Is it safe to give an auto insurance company my Social Security number?

It is important to know that an insurance company you're working with is reputable. If you stick with major providers with nationally-known names, you can feel pretty comfortable to provide your social. For example, is Geico asking for a Social Security number? As long as you've confirmed that the person you are speaking with is truly a Geico representative, you should feel comfortable to give your Social Security number in the quoting or claims process.

If you have not requested an insurance quote and someone contacts you, whether via phone, email or text and requests your SSN, you should note provide your social without further investigation.

What if I do not have a Social Security number?

If you do not have a Social Security number, and one is required for you to get an insurance quote, call our service center at 1-855-430-7753 and our agents can assist you.