Shuman Roy is an entrepreneur, business owner, and musician. He started RoysNoys, LLC in 2013 as a music production and education service company. He also offers small business consulting and advisory services to help businesses get from start-up mode to turn-key operations. Shuman earned his M.B.A from the Stern School of Business in 2001 and has an undergraduate degree from Manhattan College in ...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Joel...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Jul 19, 2021

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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.

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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.

Namely, underinsured motorist coverage, uninsured motorist coverage and personal injury protection, all of which can be purchased as part of your existing auto coverage.

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.

Get insurance quotes online or contact a local independent insurance agent to review your coverage and shop your insurance premium.

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.