Ever wonder if the cop driving behind you can tell if you have auto insurance?

Some states have laws and systems that allow law enforcement to use equipment that can verify if your car insurance policy is valid when you’re stopped for a violation.

For instance, car insurance companies in California must electronically report all private-use vehicle liability policies to DMV, both when a policy is issued and when it’s cancelled — except for trailers, off-highway vehicles or boats. California law enforcement agencies can electronically verify if any private-use car is adequately insured by accessing a department’s vehicle registration database.

Texas car insurance law requires companies to submit policy information to a database of insured vehicles. Called TexasSure, the database includes vehicle registration information, such as vehicle identification number (VIN); the owner’s name and address; the car’s make, model and year; and insurance policy information, including the insurance company name and policy effective dates.

TexasSure allows law enforcement, county tax officials and vehicle inspectors to use the system to confirm whether a vehicle has required personal auto liability insurance coverage. They enter a license plate number.

Other states’ Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) vary on if and how they keep a database of car owners’ auto insurance. States also differ on how they verify insurance after a traffic violation.

In most states, an insurance company has to notify the DMV if a person’s insurance policy is lapsed or canceled. Many states require you to turn in your license plates when this occurs.

To learn about your state’s insurance verification system, contact your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles and/or insurance regulator. Either state agency should be able to give you information on this topic and tell you if your car insurance company electronically transmits to the DMV when your policy starts and if it is canceled.

But it’s never a wise idea to drive without insurance. If you’re in an accident, you’ll be responsible for the damages and injuries you cause to others, plus you can be ticketed for driving without insurance and face other penalties — which range from a fine to jail time, impoundment of your vehicle to the suspension of your license and registration.

author image
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.