Wouldn’t it be nice if we could tell if a particular vehicle was insured just be looking at it?
At least you would know which cars not to drive next to on the freeway, and which cars not to park next to at the mall. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that easy.
While almost every state requires that drivers purchase at least minimum car insurance in the form of liability-only car insurance, there are still tens of thousands of uninsured drivers on America’s roadways at any given time.
Put simply, they’re driving without car insurance and there’s no way we can tell.
You Can’t Tell
That’s right, there is no way for the average person to determine if a car has auto insurance coverage in force, unless the license plate reads I-N-S-U-R-E-D (just kidding).
There are no publicly accessible databases or websites out there that keep a running list of who does and who doesn’t carry car insurance.
Often times, we find out the hard way that a person is driving uninsured. It may go down like this:
1. Someone causes an accident and damages your car.
2. You try to exchange insurance company information.
3. The shyster who hit you says they don’t have insurance, but wants to pay you in cash for any damages.
4. You agree, and then never hear from the person again after calling the fake number they gave you.
The Cops CAN Tell
Many states are now switching over to electronic insurance reporting systems. This means that every insurer in the state keeps a live record of who does and does not have car insurance based on vehicle identification numbers (VINs) for all vehicles registered within the state.
So a police officer can check your tags while driving behind you and instantly determine if you have car insurance.
You better believe that you’ll be on the side of the road receiving a ticket in no time flat if you don’t have coverage (or don’t have proof of insurance).
But only the police have access to this sort of information. We, the general public, should not expect to gain access to this sort of information anytime soon, aka, never. Technically, it’s none of our business.
How Do We Stay Protected?
There are a few options made available by insurers to protect against the uninsured or underinsured drivers on our streets and highways.
These coverage types are designed to ensure you are not left to pay for bodily injury and property damage you suffer at the hands of some uninsured yo-yo.
Often, if you shop around you’ll be able to afford to add these valuable coverage types or increase your current liability limits and STILL save money.
Read more: What to do if you get in a car accident.