When you take out an auto insurance policy, you have to provide certain information: personal data such as your name and address, as well as information about the car. One information you will need to have handy is the vehicle identification number (VIN). This number is required to complete your purchase of a policy.
What is the VIN of a car?
VIN stands for Vehicle Identification Number. This is a unique 17-character alphanumeric identifier that is assigned to your car when it is built. Each car has its own VIN number which stays with it for the life of the vehicle.
You can find the VIN noted in a few areas of a car. It can be found on the driver’s side windshield, which is usually most easily seen by standing outside the car and looking at the corner where the dashboard meets the windshield. If the VIN isn’t there, you should find it inside the driver’s side door near where the door locks when it closes. Sometimes the VIN is noted on the inside of the trunk or the trunk latch. Additionally, it can be found on the vehicle registration, title and your insurance card.
So what does VIN tell you? Each character is coded with specific information, including:
- The country in which the car was manufactured
- The make and model of the vehicle, as well as more detailed information such as engine type and transmission
- The year of manufacture of the car
- The manufacturing plant where the car was assembled
- If the VIN is valid (known by the ninth character, which is a security code)
- Manufacturer-specific information, such as factory-fitted options on the vehicle (known from the latest six-character serial number)
Do you need a VIN for auto insurance?
The short answer is: yes, you need a VIN to purchase auto insurance. However, you don’t need it to start the process of buying a policy. Insurers are able to give you a general quote without the VIN, so if you are planning to buy a certain car, but haven’t been to the dealership yet, you can get an idea of what your costs will be. insurance by getting a few quotes.
Once you have chosen a specific car, you will need the VIN to purchase the policy. The VIN gives the insurance company valuable information and allows them to give you more accurate quotes. No insurance company will sell you a policy without having the VIN on hand.
What you need for auto insurance quotes
Obtaining insurance quotes is easy and can be done online in many cases. The information required for a quote varies from state to state, but you will usually need your name, address, date of birth, and driver’s license number. Your potential insurance company will also need to know the year, make and model of your vehicle as well as its mileage. Some insurers may ask if the car will be housed in a garage or outside. Additionally, you should be prepared to provide information regarding your old insurer (if you had one) and the expiration date of that policy.
You may be asked for the VIN at this point, but you should be able to get the quote without it. Keep in mind that the quote may not be as accurate as it would be if you had the VIN. Your insurer can only give you a final quote once they have seen the VIN.
If you are looking for a used car. but haven’t purchased it yet, ask the owner if you can have the VIN before you start looking for insurance. While it might not be necessary to get a quote, you will get much more accurate pricing from the insurance company with the vehicle identification number.
If you are looking for new cars, you may not have access to the VIN at first, although many dealerships list the VIN with the car’s information if you shop online. Most major auto insurance companies only require minimal information to be submitted on their websites for a general quote. This should give you enough information to get a good idea of what your premium will be, but it may not be exactly the same as your final cost.
Remember, insurance quotes are an estimate of what you will pay and are not set in stone. If you do not include the VIN in the initial quote, the quote may change once the insurer has the more precise and specific information contained in the VIN.
What you need for an auto insurance policy
Once you are ready to purchase your policy, you will most likely need the VIN. Your VIN will transmit information relevant to the underwriting process, for example if the vehicle has a history of serious damage or has been stolen. You may also need to provide information that may not have been required for the quote, such as your driving history and whether you have any past markings on your license. If your license has already been suspended, the company will need to know that along with the details of your case.
Why are VINs important?
A VIN is for a car what your fingerprint is for you. It is unique to each vehicle and includes a wealth of information in its 17 characters that inform your insurer about the origins and history of the car. No car on the road has the same VIN, so your insurer knows exactly what they need to accurately set your policy.
As a driver, you don’t need to memorize your car’s VIN, although it is helpful to know where you can find it. For your insurer, the VIN is vital information that allows them to assess the risk they will take when insuring the car. Sharing your car’s VIN with potential insurers allows you to collect more accurate quotes to ensure you get the best insurance policy for the best possible price.