Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate drivers about...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Licensed Agent for 10 Years

UPDATED: May 11, 2021

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Many people wonder if they need proof of insurance when driving a vehicle. The answer depends on the particular state in which you drive.

Most states require that each driver carries a certain amount of insurance in order to be legal on the roads. In these states, it is imperative that you carry proof of an auto insurance policy with you when you drive.

If you are not able to provide proof of insurance, you very likely will be ticketed.

Be sure to compare auto insurance policies by entering your ZIP code into the FREE tool now!

What is Proof of Auto Insurance?

Proof of auto insurance usually is provided by your car insurance company in the format of an “insurance card.”

An insurance card is often just a piece of paper and not an actual card, that lists your policy provider, your policy number and the contact information for your car insurance company.

In many states, drivers may be ticketed if they are unable to show proof of insurance to a police officer when they are stopped for a traffic violation.

However, in some states, police officers have the ability to look up drivers’ license plate numbers to see if they have auto insurance when a driver is stopped for a traffic violation.

In Texas, for example, if a driver is stopped for a traffic violation, the office “runs” the plate before he even approaches the vehicle to view the driver’s license.

Even though the officer may request to see a driver’s proof of insurance, he or she most likely already knows if the driver is covered by a valid policy before he or she even approaches the vehicle.

This program is known as the TexasSure program in the state of Texas. This program was enacted to dissuade drivers from showing invalid or falsified insurance documentation.

Other states may have similar programs in place. Best practice for all drivers in states that require drivers to maintain a valid insurance policy is to always make sure you carry proof of insurance with you when you drive.

How Can I Get Proof of Insurance?

The only way to obtain a valid proof of insurance document is to actually purchase a valid car insurance policy.

When you purchase a policy, your car insurance carrier will provide you with an insurance card to be carried with you when you drive.

If you lose your card or need a card in the case of an emergency, such as you have lost all of your documentation, your insurance carrier will fax or email a temporary card to you.

When you purchase car insurance from an insurance company that sells their policies online, you will be able to print your insurance card as soon as your policy goes into effect.

In many cases, online insurance companies will sell “instant” policies, and after your policy is purchased, you may immediately download and print out your insurance card.

In any case, make sure you have proof of insurance in your possession before you get behind the wheel in a state that requires that you carry an insurance card to legally drive.

Some states will ticket drivers for not being able to provide proof of insurance should an officer request to see it.

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How to Shop for an Auto Insurance Policy

When in the market for an auto insurance policy, shop around for the best company and policy to fit your needs and budget.

Web-based comparison tools make comparing and contrasting different companies that provide auto insurance coverage in your geographical area. Using a web-based comparison tool is easy to do.

Just enter your zip code into the “Zip Code” input box on the first page of the site. A list is returned containing the auto insurance companies that provide coverage in your area.

Comparison tools will show companies that sell car insurance policies based on the laws of your state and area.

For example, if you live in a “no-fault” state, such as Florida, Utah or North Dakota, the list that is returned contains auto insurance companies that sell no-fault insurance policies.

If you live in an “at fault” or “tort” state, the list returned to you based on your zip code contains auto insurance companies that sell these types of policies.

Choosing the Right Policy

Once you establish your geographical location on a comparison tool, you will be able to specify the type of auto insurance policy you are seeking.

Compare and contrast what different auto insurance companies are offering based on your specifications.

Compare policy features such as the amount of coverage, discounts offered and rates between several auto insurance companies at one time using a comparison tool.

Shopping for an auto insurance company is easy using a web-based comparison tool.

Once you find the perfect auto insurance company and policy for you, be sure to get your proof of insurance as soon as possible and keep the card with you at all times when you drive.

To shop multiple car insurance policies, simply enter your ZIP code into the FREE comparison tool below now!