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Have This Information Handy When You Apply for Car Insurance

December 5, 2016
Auto Insurance, Insurance
Have This Information Handy When You Apply for Car Insurance
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If you’ve been shopping around for car insurance, give yourself a pat on the back — comparing quotes can save you a lot of money.

Whether you decide to make a phone call, apply online, or go in person, a little preparation can make the application process a lot easier. Here are the documents you’ll need.

Driver’s licenses

You’ll need a valid driver’s license for everyone on the policy. Some insurers require you to submit a photocopy.

Vehicle registrations

You’ll have to provide registration details for any vehicle you want to insure, including the vehicle identification number, make, model and year.

Social Security number

You likely don’t need the official card if you have your Social Security number memorized, but insurers often pull a credit-based insurance score.

While your credit score tells lenders how likely you are to default on a loan, your insurance score predicts how likely you are to file an insurance claim. You can decline to give your number out if the insurance score check makes you uncomfortable, but that might result in higher rates.

If you live in California, Massachusetts or Hawaii, you’re off the hook: Credit history can’t be used to determine car insurance rates in those states.

Current policy information

Knowing your current insurance limits is helpful if you want to make sure you have the same level of insurance on your new policy, or if you want more or less coverage. Your current policy’s declaration page, which is the summary of coverage, will tell you.

» COMPARE: Car insurance quotes

Voided check

If you’re buying a policy in person with an agent, a great way to set up electronic payments is to bring a voided check when you go. Some insurers even give a discount if you agree to automatic payments or paperless billing.

Documents for discounted rates

Auto insurers offer cheap car insurance for things such as professional memberships or clean driving records. Discounts depend on the insurer and your state, but an agent can tell you which breaks you qualify for.

Here are some documents you might want to have handy, in case they qualify you for cheaper rates:

  • Report cards or transcripts of any high school or college students who are on the policy who have good grades.
  • Defensive driving course certificate, if you have one.
  • Union or professional membership cards.
  • Proof of military service.

Other information to have

Some information your new insurer will need isn’t on paper. In order to be totally prepared, jot down this information so you have it nearby when you apply:

  • Your driving distance to work.
  • Dates and details of your past moving violations, if any, such as speeding tickets.
  • Dates and details of any accidents you’ve been in.

Be aware that insurers will verify everything you tell them. They can look up your commuting distance and past driving violations and claims.

Lacie Glover is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: lacie@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @LacieWrites.