How to Find Car Insurance Records from the Previous Car Owner

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If you want to learn about your car’s insurance history, your best bet is to purchase an online vehicle report like CARFAX or contact your state DMV regarding insurance records.
There are laws to protect these records, but as the new owner of the vehicle, you are entitled to some of this information.
You might be wondering why it’s important to see the insurance history of the vehicle. In short, it helps you verify that a vehicle is safe and well maintained. A vehicle with a lengthy claims history may have issues you don’t know about—and you can expect your car insurance costs to be high.
To help you through the process of how to find car insurance records, car insurance comparison app Jerry has compiled a short guide with everything you need to know.
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Where to get a car’s previous insurance history

Wondering how to find car insurance records? There are three ways you can get access to a vehicle’s prior history. No matter which method you choose, you will need the VIN number. You can find it on the driver’s side dash, door pillar placard, or on the title or insurance policy.

Use a professional service to pull an online vehicle history report

You can use an agency like CARFAX or Autocheck to order a vehicle report. These companies keep large databases on millions of cars, which you can access for a fee. You will get access to information related to the vehicle’s claims history, inspection history, mileage, service history, and changes to the title and registration.
Here’s what to look for when you review the report:
  • Title changes that go from “clear” to “salvage
  • Title status that could indicate theft or flood damage
  • Mileage disparities—if the mileage was unreported for a long period of time, it could be because the vehicle was in the shop getting a major repair
  • Damage—this will show you all collision reports and claims registered by the insurance company

Reach out to the DMV

Your state DMV can usually tell you the name of the company (or companies) that insured the vehicle before you bought it. Every state has different laws about what can be disclosed, so please do your research and be kind to the person who answers your call.
Most DMVs have a phone number where you can reach a real human being. Be prepared to be put on hold—but be equally prepared with all the necessary information.
Tell them what you need and provide the VIN number. Your vehicle’s VIN is the trigger for finding previous insurer information—not the previous owner’s name or contact information—so don’t worry about infringing on anyone’s privacy.
Ask the DMV for a duplicate of title transfer. There may be a fee associated with this. The DMV will fax or email you the previous insurance company’s name and probable policy number associated with that vehicle.
Now, you’re all set to reach out to the insurance company yourself. Call the company and explain the situation.
All companies keep very detailed records of all claims and reported damage. They should be able to corroborate a CARFAX report or provide copies of all prior vehicle records to you, the new legal owner.
Key Takeaway Your state DMV should be able to provide you with the name and contact number of the company that previously insured your car.

Ask the previous owner for their information

You can always reach out directly to the previous owner. Find the previous owner’s contact information on the bill of sale or title transfer documentation.
They may be suspicious, but you can just tell them that your insurance company requires some additional information. All you need from them is the previous policy information and then you can follow up with the company to confirm the vehicle history.
If you bought your car through a dealership, they may have their own records on file to share with you. Call them and request any title and insurance records they have from the previous owner.
Key Takeaway Whether you use a vehicle history report, contact your state DMV, or speak to the previous owner, you should be able to find previous insurance information to help you understand the history of your vehicle.

Final steps

Armed with this information, you can now make an informed plan to maintain and insure your vehicle.
You may discover trouble areas to watch out for or parts that will need extra care. Make a plan to get regular inspections so your vehicle stays in top-notch condition.
If you discover that your new-to-you vehicle actually has an extensive claims history, don’t fret—you can still find a good deal! Try adding safety features that help you qualify for additional discounts. A defensive driving course can earn you an additional rate reduction.
If you need help searching for car insurance quotes online, let Jerry help!
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Once you download Jerry, just answer a handful of questions that will take you roughly 45 seconds to complete and you’ll immediately get car insurance quotes for coverage similar to your current plan.
Jerry customers save an average of $879 a year. Oh, and we should mention — Jerry is free.
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