How to Find Insurance Records From the Previous Car Owner

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How to Find Insurance Records From the Previous Car Owner (Photo: @shanti via Twenty20)
If you’re interested in a used car, you may be wondering about its past and what that could mean for you. It is advantageous to look up the previous owner’s car insurance records because these can tell you a lot about the car, including any claims the previous owner made, any bodywork the car had, any parts of the car that have been damaged, and whether the title is clear.
You should know that, typically, there are laws in place that protect car insurance records in certain circumstances. However, if you want to know the full history of a previously owned car, read on to find out when and how you can obtain these records.

Ask the previous owner

The simplest way to find the insurance records would be to ask the previous owner. If you have not yet bought the car, and the previous owner is willing to discuss their record, then this is a simple matter of asking for documentation. However, if you have already bought the car, it may take some digging in order to contact the previous owner.
Step 1: Check your state’s laws. First and foremost, contact your State Department to find out what you can and cannot legally acquire with regard to insurance records.
If there are no laws against disclosing this information to an outside party (you), then you can proceed. If there are in fact laws against this, then you will need to act accordingly.
Step 2: Call the DMV. Ask the local DMV for a duplicate of the title transfer for the car. Be aware that this may come with a fee.
This document will include some contact information for the previous car owners, and may list basic insurance information.
Step 3: Contact the previous owner. With the information you received from the DMV, call the previous owner. He or she will hopefully be willing to provide you with the insurance documentation you need.

Contact the insurance company

The next best thing to speaking with the previous owner is speaking with his or her insurance company. Again, make sure you are abiding by any state laws as you try to get this information.
Step 1: Obtain the insurance company’s name. Either by contacting the DMV and requesting the title transfer, or by contacting the previous owners themselves, you should be able to get the name of the previous owners’ insurance company.
Step 2: Call the insurance company. Once you have the name of the company, search online to find their customer service number. Then you can call and request the previous owner’s insurance records.
Keep in mind when you speak with any insurance companies that they are not obligated to give you this information. Being polite and forthwith will greatly help you in this situation.

Ask the car dealer

If you bought your used car through a car dealership, this may be a good option.
Step 1: Request records from the dealer. Some dealers keep detailed records on the cars they sell, including the insurance information of previous owners. If the dealer you are using does this, request the information they have on file.

Use a professional service

If the above methods do not work, you can try using an agency. These agencies maintain large databases on a number of cars, and they usually keep track of car insurance records.
Step 1: Find an agency. CarFax is a well-known vehicle history service, but there are others, like AutoCheck. Pick one that will provide you with the most information.
Step 2: Request information. Usually after paying a fee, you can request a vehicle history using the car’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). This vehicle history report typically includes past insurance.
Knowing what sort of claims or damages have been recorded as part of your used car’s history will help you to make important decisions about care and maintenance going forward, as well as prepare you for what areas of the car could potentially require attention. By following the guidelines above, you can obtain this critical information, which will help you be a responsible car owner.