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

Some states have laws and systems in place 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 doing business in California are required to electronically report all private-use vehicle liability policies to DMV, both when a policy is issued and when its canceled — with the exception of trailers, off-highway vehicles or boats. California law enforcement agencies can electronically verify if any private-use vehicle is properly insured by accessing a department’s vehicle registration database.

In the Lone Star State, 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 simply enter a license plate number.

Other states’ Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) vary on if and how they keep a database of car owner’s 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. When this occurs many states require you to turn in your license plates.

To find out 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, to impoundment of your vehicle and suspension of your license and registration.

Read more about do you need insurance to get temporary license paper tags

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Michelle Megna
Contributing Researcher

Michelle is a writer, editor and expert on car insurance and personal finance. She's a former CarInsurance.com editorial director. Prior to joining CarInsurance.com, she reported and edited articles on technology, lifestyle, education and government for magazines, websites and major newspapers, including the New York Daily News.