Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

Full Bio →

Written by

Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florid...

Full Bio →

Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Jan 24, 2022

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right coverage choices.

Advertiser Disclosure: We strive to help you make confident auto insurance decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. We are not affiliated with any one auto insurance provider and cannot guarantee quotes from any single provider. Our partnerships don’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own. To compare quotes from many different companies please enter your ZIP code on this page to use the free quote tool. The more quotes you compare, the more chances to save.

At a Glance

  • Insurance binders are only temporary, but you can use them as proof of insurance when valid
  • Your auto insurance binder should include information like the types of coverages you have chosen and your potential auto insurance rates
  • Since auto insurance binders are short-term, the terms and conditions of your pending policy are subject to change

What is an auto insurance binder, and when do you need it?

An auto insurance binder is a temporary document that you can present to businesses, agents, or professionals in certain situations. You can obtain the document relatively quickly upon request.

An insurance binder for an automobile contains vital information about your coverage, including your current auto insurance rates. In other words, it contains general terms upon which you and your new auto insurance company agreed for your new policy.

Now, a car insurance binder differs from a full policy in at least two ways. One key aspect of the binder is brevity.

Read on to know more about what an auto insurance binder is, including how long it remains valid and when you should request it. And if you need to see rates from top auto insurance companies in your area, input your ZIP code into our free quote tool above.

What is an insurance binder for a car?

An insurance binder is essentially a contract between you and your insurance company. Insurance binders exist for many types of insurance, including home, auto, boat, and business. An insurance binder acts as proof of insurance when your policy is new and is only valid during that period.

After you select a new auto insurance company, you may need to wait 10 days to a month before the company finalizes your new policy and prepares your official policy documents. During the underwriting process, the company verifies your information and makes a final decision about retaining you as a customer.

When your auto insurance company finally approves your policy, it will send you the documents, including a certificate of insurance. Those official documents will void the binder.

Free Auto Insurance Comparison

Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap auto insurance rates.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

What is included in an insurance binder?

Most insurance binders are two pages long and should include the following information:

  • Relevant dates – This information includes the binder’s issue date and dates that indicate how long the binder should last.
  • Your auto insurance company’s information – Beside the name of the company is the binder number.
  • An insurance professional’s information – If you worked with one of your new auto insurance company’s agents, that person needs to include their information, including their phone and fax numbers. Also, this person needs to sign the document at the bottom of the first page.
  • Your information – That includes your name and mailing address.
  • A description of your insured car – There is a section with ample space to list multiple vehicles, if necessary.
  • The typical types of coverages in your pending policy – The binder contains sections for vehicle liability, vehicle damage, and optional auto insurance coverages like medical payments coverage. An insurance professional will note which coverages you have chosen.
  • A section for “Special Conditions/Other Coverages” – Your insurance professional can list other types of coverage there. This might include insurance riders and endorsements.
  • Your auto insurance rates – A section near the bottom right of the first page calculates the costs of your chosen coverages, plus fees and taxes.
  • The names of other individuals listed on your policy – All persons insured under your policy must be named, as well as any additional insureds.
  • State-specific language – Insurance companies must adhere to state laws when providing insurance, and so should any documents they issue.

An insurance binder example is an Acord 75 form. Most auto and home insurance companies will use that form since it includes fields for much of the information listed above.

How does an insurance binder differ from an auto insurance policy?

Your insurance binder differs from a full auto insurance policy in that the former will not include all the details of your finalized policy. As discussed above, a binder is approximately two pages long. Your full policy should be much longer because it lists more details about your coverage.

Also, if you look closely at the language on the binder, you should see phrases like “Subject to terms and conditions.” What does that mean?

For one thing, your rates might change after the underwriting process concludes. As your auto insurance company is vetting you as a customer, it may discover the following characteristics about you and anyone else you have listed on your policy:

  • Your age
  • The type of car you drive and its current condition
  • Your address and the type of neighborhood in which you reside
  • Your driving record, plus the driving records of other drivers listed on your policy
  • Your credit history

According to the Insurance Information Institute, these details — plus details about how often you plan to use your   car — might raise or lower your auto insurance rates.

Also, you can decide to reduce or expand your policy at any time after the underwriting process concludes. For example, you can begin adding comprehensive or collision auto insurance coverage. Of course, those additions will increase your monthly rates.

Other changes that you can make to your policy include the vehicles you insure and who you designate. Most auto insurance companies are flexible, and they will allow their policyholders to make those changes at any time.

When might you need an insurance binder?

You might need an insurance binder when certain parties request proof of insurance. For example, consider these scenarios:

  • A car dealership can only legally sell you a car with proof of insurance or financial responsibility.
  • A loan officer will need proof of insurance if you are financing or leasing your car.
  • Your local Department of Motor Vehicles, or your state’s equivalent, might ask for proof of insurance when you register your new car. And, of course, you need to maintain continuous coverage in 49 states to legally continue driving.
  • If a police officer stops your car and asks you for proof of insurance, you can show them your insurance binder.

Of course, you might be wondering, How do I get an insurance binder? The answer is simple: You can request it and receive it by a method of your own choosing, including email. If you receive the binder via email, you can print it out and show your proof of insurance when necessary.

Note that you may need to wait one to two days for the document. Also, only a qualified insurance professional can issue a valid insurance binder.

Free Auto Insurance Comparison

Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap auto insurance rates.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Auto Insurance Binder: A Word of Caution

As discussed above, your auto insurance binder will only last for a month at the longest, so you need to keep its expiration date in mind. Maintain regular contact with your auto insurance company to remain aware of the condition of your policy.

If the company rejects your policy and the binder expires, you run the risk of a lapse in auto insurance. In some states, that is cause for a driver’s license suspension, so always remain well-informed about the overwriting process.

To learn more about car insurance pricing factors, you can read our ultimate auto insurance guide. You can also visit that page with the 15 most frequently asked questions about auto insurance.

Meanwhile, we hope that you are confident in your newfound knowledge about the auto insurance binder. So, are you ready to see quotes from top auto insurance companies in your neck of the woods? If so, you can enter your ZIP code into our free quote tool below.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.