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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For many of us, purchasing insurance is a hassle, generally done at the last minute to avoid any sort of penalty.

However, depending on how you purchase your insurance policy, you may wind up with no proof once you have done so, which may be illegal in your state.

In response to this common problem, you’ve likely heard radio or TV advertisements touting the ability to offer you “instant proof of insurance” immediately after you purchase your policy online or over the phone.

What constitutes proof of insurance?

While this is a convenient service, it is by no means hard to come by or exclusive to any one company. Let’s look at how this “magical” process works.

You have proof of insurance if you carry a declarations page or an ID card issued by the insurance company you purchased from.

These are documents, normally kept in your glove box, that demonstrate you carry at least the mandatory minimum auto insurance required in your state.

An insurance agent is also capable of creating an ID card for you if you visit their office.

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How do I obtain instant proof of insurance?

Really, what we are talking about here is insurance companies that sell over the phone or online.

As discussed previously, if you work with an agent, they can type you up a temporary card in most cases.

Here’s how it works when buying over the phone or online:

– A PDF file of your ID card is generated when your insurance policy is bound (purchased).

– The PDF file is emailed or faxed to you.

– If emailed, you print the PDF and stick it in your glove box.

That’s it…seriously! It’s not necessarily rocket science, but if you need proof of insurance fast, it serves the purpose.

What if I get pulled over with no proof of insurance?

If the company you purchase your auto insurance policy from doesn’t offer instant proof of insurance, you may land yourself in hot water in the event you’re pulled over.

If you can’t display proof of insurance, you may be issued the dreaded “no proof” citation.

Assuming you can’t get or don’t opt for the instant proof of insurance and are issued a citation, you will likely receive a court date.

It’s possible to go to court with your proof of liability insurance once it’s mailed to you.

You might also be able to provide proof of insurance to the courthouse via fax or mail in some counties, which will save you the trip.

Read your no proof of insurance citation or call the courthouse to determine if this is acceptable in the county you received the ticket.

Of course, if you had instant proof of insurance (or didn’t wait until the last minute to purchase car insurance), you could have avoided the whole ordeal to begin with.

As always, it is recommend that you get insurance quotes online and/or speak with an independent agent in order to make sure you’re getting the best coverage at the lowest rate.

Remember, it makes more sense to shop early and get the best deal than it does to shop late and potentially pay a higher overall insurance premium just to make sure you can get “instant proof.”

(photo: ben_osteen)