Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insuran...

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Written by Rachael Brennan
Licensed Agent for 15 Years Rachael Brennan

Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager Chris Harrigan

UPDATED: Jun 21, 2022

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Every car that is registered to be driven on public roads and freeways must have auto insurance
  • The auto insurance must be kept on file with the Department of Motor Vehicles in most states
  • If you own the vehicle or you’ve inherited it, and you need to check the insurance status of it, you should call the DMV and ask for insurance information
  • If you can’t find documents, you may want to order your own Claims Loss Underwriting Exchange report
  • If you want to get insurance information on a vehicle that you don’t own, you won’t be able to unless you have permission from the owner

There may come a time where you’ll need to check to see if a car has insurance.

Unfortunately, in the United States, there’s not a universal car insurance database that anyone with inquiries can reference.

Whether or not you can find vehicle insurance information depends on if you own it and if the insurance has been verified electronically.

To start your search for the best car insurance for your situation, enter your zip code in the tool above for a free comparison!

Finding car insurance information on your own vehicle is bound to be much easier than finding insurance information on a non-owned car. Since you have a legal interest in the car, you’re more than likely authorized to make inquiries or even changed through the insurer.

If someone else purchased your policy or you simply forgot where you bought your coverage, here’s how to start your search:

Look for Documentation to Find Old Policy Information

If you’re looking for your own policy information or you’re taking care of a family member’s affairs, you may want to start your search for insurance information in the vehicle itself.

Since you’re required by law to carry proof of insurance with you at all times, the best place to put your auto insurance ID cards is in your glove compartment.

Your insurance ID cards are typically smaller than a piece of paper. They will contain information on:

  • Policyholder
  • Policy number
  • Effective date
  • VIN
  • Contact information for the carrier

If you have your latest ID card, you have all of the information that you need to call your carrier and request a new declarations page.

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Check Your Bank Statement

Looking back on old bank statements can help you find the company information.

If you’ve made payments via your debit card, credit card, or by check, you should be able to find the insurance company’s name, the phone number, and the date the payment was taken from your account. By calling the number, you can get your policy details.

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Contact Your Local DMV

If you don’t have access to your vehicle or you can’t find any insurance documents, the next step will be to contact the state.

You should try to call the Department of Motor Vehicles or the agency in charge of monitoring the insurance status of registered vehicles to see if you can give them your license plate number in exchange for your policy number.

Not all states store your insurance information in your electronic file, but many do. It’s much easier to get this information when the state has an electronic verification system in place where insurance carriers must report your policy status as soon as it changes.

Some states have online tools that allow you to enter your VIN to pull up insurance details. This can make research all the easier.

Order Your Lexis Nexis Report or a CLUE Report

Lexis Nexis Personal Reports and other records that can be accessed through the Claim Loss Underwriting Exchange can help you find your insurance information as well.

While agents do have access to C.L.U.E. reports when you are applying for insurance, you can request the report on your own by mail.

When you get your personal report back, it will include claims information and the most up-to-date insurance information on file.

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What happens if you find out your insurance has lapsed?

If you are lucky enough to find your policy information, the first thing to check to see is if the policy is still active. When policyholders pay the entire term up and set up automatic renewals, the coverage will remain in force as long as the payment can be drafted.

If your policy is canceled or it didn’t renew, you will have a lapse of coverage.

If your coverage has lapsed, you may be assessed a penalty for failing to maintain liability coverage. The penalty can come in the form of a citation, a fine, a fee, or even suspension of your vehicle registration.

You’ll have to buy insurance and pay a fee before your registration will be reinstated.

Can you cancel an old policy if you have two policies in force?

If you never locate your old insurance policy, the best thing to do is buy a new policy.

The new policy will protect you if your coverage has lapsed. If you find an old policy in the process, you’ll be able to cancel the coverage by showing you purchased insurance elsewhere due to the double-coverage rule.

Can you check someone else’s insurance information?

If you are going to drive someone else’s car or you’re involved in an accident with another party, you may want to check their policy information. Due to privacy rules, you can’t call and get information from the insurer.

You can, however, ask your insurance company to verify the driver’s insurance information if you’re involved in a claim. They will handle everything for you.

There are a few different ways that you can check if your car has insurance. Make sure to try each of these tips before giving up. If you’re still unable to find your policy information, the next step is to buy a policy.

Get your paperwork ready, and find the best deal by getting instant quotes online and comparing insurance rates. Enter your zip code in the free comparison tool below!