Do you Need Your VIN Number to get an Auto Insurance Quote?

September 7th, 2011 Chad Posted in Questions No Comments »

Shopping around for auto insurance is the best way to save money. By comparing different companies you can find the best price with a provider that has both solid ratings and sound financial health. There is certain information you will need when getting insurance quotes. You will be asked for your name and address, your driver’s license number and the VIN number for the vehicle.

What the VIN is

The VIN number on your car is the 17 digit identification number. It is composed of both letters and numbers and is unique to your car. Earlier cars had a simple plaque inside the drivers’ door with this number. However, the number plaques were easily moved from one vehicle to another, a fact that made insurance companies and car owners alike nervous.

Where to Find the VIN

Newer cars will have the VIN located in several areas. It is found in the dash by the windshield and typically in a few other places. It could be in the doors, the radiator support bracket, the steering column or the firewall of the car. It is placed in multiple locations to prevent people from switching the VIN numbers with stolen or damaged cars.

The Information it Relays

The VIN number tells the insurance company everything they might want to know about a car. It tells them where the automobile was manufactured and who the manufacturer is. It also defines the body style, braking system, engine type, series of vehicle, restraint system and more.

By simply entering the VIN number, your insurance company can instantly view the full breakdown of factory installed safety features. These features play a role in determining your insurance premium, making the VIN number a necessary part of any truly accurate quote.

The Car’s History

Every time a car dealer does warranty work on a car, they enter the information in the manufacturer’s system using the VIN. When an insurance company totals a car due to flood, fire or other collision, that information will become attached to the VIN. If the car is stolen, the police will attach that information to the VIN. From the moment the car is manufactured until it reaches the final destination at the scrap yard, that VIN number will track all the major events in the car’s life.

Fraud Prevention

In addition to being able to provide completely accurate quotes with the VIN number, the insurance companies also use this information to prevent fraud. The days of moving a VIN with a clean title on to a body with a questionable title are in the past. Some manufacturers are also engraving the VIN into the engine compartment, making it almost impossible for chop shops to transfer VINs.

Salvage Titles

Use of the VIN number also prevents a vehicle that has been declared a total loss from being insured again. Once a vehicle is totaled by an insurance company, it becomes ineligible for insurance. It will have a salvage title and that information will be part of the VIN number. The vehicle can be restored and re-inspected, but the inspection must be done by the local state government before the car can be eligible for a regular title. The car’s journey from road-worthy to totaled and back to solid condition again will be detailed on the VIN, possibly affecting the insurance premiums.


Insurers also need the VIN number in the event of recalls. Many models are produced in several different factories located around the world. Defective parts coming from one factory will only affect the cars that were produced in that plant. When a recall is issued, the VIN numbers can be used to limit the scope of the recall, allowing the manufacturers to save billions of dollars. From the insurance company’s point of view, they want to know about recalls and know that the vehicle is properly repaired. In the event of an accident that results from recall work not being performed, the insurance company may refuse the claim.

Getting a Quote without the VIN

It is possible to get a general quote without the VIN number. You may be able to search online and find different quotes from various companies, especially when you are considering making a purchase. However, these quotes will not be guaranteed.

The insurance company will reserve the right to change the quote based on what is discovered when they look at the VIN number and the car’s history. The only way to get a firm quote is to provide the VIN along with your driver’s license number and other information.

It is important to check with different companies to find the best premiums that are available for you. Have the required information ready so you won’t have to go through the process again. Be prepared to provide the company with your personal contact information, VIN number and driver’s license information. Once you are ready to purchase insurance, the VIN will absolutely be required.