What Do You Need to Get Car Insurance?

Quick Answer

To get car insurance, the information you’ll need to supply includes your name, date of birth, home address, current insurance policy and vehicle details.

Man texting in front of car

Buying a car can be exciting, but buying car insurance? Not so much. Still, the majority of motorists in the U.S. must carry at least a minimum amount of coverage. To help ease the process, we've compiled the information you need to have on hand to get car insurance.

What Information Do I Need to Get Car Insurance?

When you're in the market for car insurance, you'll need to provide certain information about yourself and your vehicle, and provide certain documents. Insurers use this information to determine your eligibility for insurance coverage and to determine the premiums you'll pay.

Personal Information Needed to Get Car Insurance

Personal information you may need to supply to get car insurance includes:

  • Legal name
  • Names of other people in your household
  • Names of all drivers being put on the policy
  • Home address
  • Address where car will be parked (if not your home address)
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Gender
  • Marital status
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security number
  • Driver's license number
  • Data about your income and assets
  • Driving history

It's worth noting that an insurer checks the driving record of each person who'll be included on a car insurance policy, so you won't have to come up with that information.

Some of this information may seem irrelevant to your history as a driver, but knowing more about you helps insurers determine the level of risk you may present. For instance, married drivers are statistically less likely to be involved in a crash vs. their unmarried peers.

Car Insurers May Consider Your Credit History

A car insurance company also might check your credit when you apply for coverage. Many insurers rely on what's known as a credit-based insurance score to help calculate the dollar amount of your premium.

Insurers say a credit-based insurance score offers a glimpse into whether you're likely to submit an insurance claim.

While your credit-based insurance score differs in substance from the credit scores lenders use, it's affected by many of the same factors. Information that may affect your credit-based insurance score includes:

  • Payment history, including late payments
  • Length of credit history
  • Types of credit, such as loans and credit cards

Keep in mind that some states prohibit car insurers from using credit information to set premiums.

An insurer also typically reviews your history of filing car insurance claims when you're applying for coverage. This history, contained in a report from the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE), provides a seven-year look at claims submitted for any car.

Vehicle Information Needed to Get Car Insurance

Vehicle information you may need to supply to get car insurance includes:

  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Year
  • Make
  • Model
  • Body style
  • Ownership status
  • Estimated annual mileage
  • Estimated current mileage on odometer
  • Safety features
  • Anti-theft devices
  • Name of current or previous insurer

Documents Needed to Get Car Insurance

Documents you may need to supply to get car insurance include:

  • Driver's license
  • Social Security card
  • Vehicle registration
  • Current car insurance policy (unless you're a first-time driver)
  • Bank or credit card statements

Copies of documents like driver's licenses typically must be provided for each person in your household who'll be covered by the policy.

Documents You Can Use for Car Insurance Discounts

You also may need to provide documents to obtain car insurance discounts. These documents may include:

  • School transcripts or report cards
  • Military or veteran ID
  • ID badge
  • Proof of completion of defensive driving course
  • Copy of declarations page for current policy

How to Buy Car Insurance

Buying car insurance is pretty straightforward. Nonetheless, it does require some work on your part. Here are six steps to follow when you're in the market for car insurance.

  1. Determine your coverage needs. In nearly every state, you must buy bodily injury liability and property liability coverage. In addition, if you have a car loan or lease, a lender usually requires the purchase of comprehensive coverage and collision coverage. Furthermore, some states require motorists to carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, personal injury protection (PIP) coverage or both.
  2. Gather information. Collect the information you'll need to fill out a car insurance application, such as your Social Security number, your driver's license number and details about your car.
  3. Compare insurance companies. The Insurance Information Institute recommends obtaining quotes from at least three companies to compare costs and coverage. You can compare insurance quotes through Experian.
  4. Read reviews. Search online for reviews about any insurer you're looking at doing business with. How is the company's customer service? What is the company's claims process like? Market research company J.D. Power conducts an annual study that measures customer satisfaction with car insurance companies in the U.S.
  5. Consider your deductible. Figure out how much you want the deductible to be. A higher deductible typically leads to lower premiums, and vice versa.
  6. Investigate discounts. Find out whether an insurer offers discounts that can reduce your premium. This may include discounts for buying more than one kind of policy from a company or maintaining a clean driving record.

The Bottom Line

Purchasing car insurance is a fact of life for most motorists in the U.S. Fortunately, you can make the process simpler by knowing what information you need to get car insurance. To compare car insurance quotes, check out Experian's online tool.