What Is An Auto Insurance Binder?

Read our guide to find out everything you need to know about auto insurance binders.
By Mike Parker
Updated Nov 15, 2022
A woman with a binder insurance policy
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If you're thinking about buying a new car or trading in your old vehicle, then insurance is a necessity in the U.S.

However, a common question that people have is how to get coverage for their new vehicle when they buy it. After all, it can take insurance companies some time to approve applications and check your driving history.

This is where insurance binders come into play. These are temporary coverage plans that auto insurance companies offer to potential customers.

Read our guide to find out about auto insurance binders and find out whether they’re right for you.

What Is An Insurance Binder?

An insurance binder is a temporary insurance policy that is issued by your insurance company before your actual insurance policy comes into effect. 

These policies are usually issued during the underwriting process and have lower coverage limits than actual insurance policies.

Remember that when an insurance company conducts underwriting, they look into the history of an applicant and use it to determine their risk profile and the rates they’ll need to pay for coverage.

In some cases, this can take a few days or even weeks to do. Your potential insurance company will look at your:

  • Driving history.

  • Your criminal record (DUIs and other driving offenses).

  • Your credit history.

  • Your health.

  • Any accidents (at-fault or no-fault) that you’ve had.

Based on this, your insurance company will decide whether or not to insure you and offer you a monthly price for your coverage.

Want to Learn More about the Underwriting Process?

Reach out to one of our expert auto insurance advisors to discuss your options when it comes to auto insurance.

If you need SR-22 insurance, or have a driving history with accidents, we can help.

Speak to one of our agents today at 1-888-912-2132 or send an email to Help@PolicyScout.com.

Not all insurance companies offer binder agreements; however, if you are trying to get finance for your vehicle, having one can help you prove to lenders that your car will be insured in the short term.

If your prospective auto insurance provider doesn’t offer car insurance binders, you may have to wait for approval of your regular auto insurance policy application before you can approach a lender to get financing.

Binds are often used when people are buying or selling a car, or when they're switching insurance companies and need to provide proof of insurance during the transition period. 

While a binder provides proof of insurance, it does not provide the same coverage as a regular auto insurance policy. 

For example, a car insurance binder might only cover liability, while a regular policy would also provide collision and comprehensive coverage. 

As such, it's important to understand the difference between a binder and a regular auto insurance policy before choosing which one you need.

What’s the Difference between a Binder and a Regular Auto Insurance Policy?

While an insurance binder can be convenient if you need insurance right away, it's important to understand that it's not as comprehensive as a regular auto insurance policy. Make sure you're aware of the differences before you commit to either option.

An insurance binder is a temporary insurance contract that gives you coverage until your formal insurance policy is issued. An insurance binder is often used when you're buying insurance online or over the phone, and it's typically only in effect for 30 days. 

A regular auto insurance policy, on the other hand, is a more permanent contract that typically lasts for six months to a year. 

For example, if you are buying a new car, you may need to get an insurance binder in order to drive the car off the lot. 

Once your auto insurance provider has all of the necessary information, they will issue a regular auto insurance policy. 

A woman that has a binder auto-insurance policy

Source: Pexels

Is an Insurance Binder the Same as Proof of Insurance?

Yes, an auto insurance or home insurance binder is a document that temporarily provides proof of insurance until your official insurance policy arrives. However, here are some key points to keep in mind:

An insurance binder is a temporary document that provides proof that you have auto insurance. It is typically valid for 30 days, during which time your auto insurance will send you a permanent insurance card. 

A car insurance binder may be issued over the phone or online, and it can be used to register your car or obtain a driver's license. 

While an insurance binder can be used as proof of insurance, it is important to note that it is only temporary.

Proof of insurance is a document that you receive from your insurance provider after you have purchased a policy. It can take the form of an insurance card, declarations page, or auto insurance binder. 

Your insurance company will issue an insurance binder when you first purchase your insurance policy. 

The insurance binder will list the essential components of your insurance policy, including the coverage types, limits, and deductibles. 

The insurance binder is valid for a specific period of time, typically 30 days. During this time, you are fully covered by your insurance policy. 

Once your official insurance policy arrives, you will need to sign and return it to your insurance company. 

At that point, the insurance binder will no longer be valid. However, the insurance binder can provide you with valuable protection in the event that you are involved in an accident during the interim period between purchasing your policy and receiving your official insurance documents.

A person who is buying a new car with binder insurance

Source: Pexels

What Is a Binder in a Car Dealership?

An insurance binder for a car dealership means that the dealership has proof that you have auto insurance coverage in place before you take possession of the vehicle. 

The auto insurance binder protects the dealership from any damages that may occur to the vehicle while it is in your possession. 

Once you take possession of the vehicle, it is your responsibility to maintain insurance coverage on the vehicle. 

Our advice is to get insurance as fast as you can once you’ve left the showroom.

How Much Does an Insurance Binder Cost?

The exact cost will depend on the insurance company, the length of the binder, and the type of auto insurance you are getting. 

For example, if you’ve applied for comprehensive coverage, you can expect to pay more for a binder agreement than you would if you were purchasing liability coverage.

Some insurance companies may charge a small fee for the binder itself, while others will include the cost of your temporary coverage in your monthly premium once you are approved.

In general, binders typically cost between $50 and $120. So, if you're looking for an insurance binder, expect to pay somewhere in that range.

Ultimately, the cost of an insurance binder is relatively small compared to the overall cost of insurance.

An insurance agent describing the costs of binder insurance

Source: Pexels

Types of Insurance Binders

An insurance binder may be used for various types of insurance, including auto insurance and home insurance. 

The insurance binder generally remains in effect until the insurance policy is issued or the coverage is denied. 

Insurance binders are usually issued at the request of the insured party, who needs proof of insurance coverage for a specific period of time. 

For example, a person might need an insurance binder to secure a loan to purchase a car or to rent an apartment. Insurance companies typically require a fee for issuing an insurance binder. The fee is generally based on the length of time the insurance binder will remain in effect.

Example of How a Binder Works

Meet Richard, he’s a 35 year-old business analyst from Boston. He recently decided to buy a new car after driving his old vehicle for the past six years.

He’s found the model and make that he likes and pays cash for a car at a local dealership.

However, Richard needs to get an auto insurance policy on his new vehicle before he can drive his car on the road.

His previous auto insurer was charging too much, so he decided to go with another insurance plan in the area.

He’s submitted all of the documents and filled in all the forms, but the insurance company says they’re going to need 3-5 days to verify his information before they can make a final decision on his application.

The insurance company sends him an insurance binder in the meantime to give him temporary insurance in case he has an accident or collision while they process his application.

Richard can use this document as a valid proof of insurance if he is pulled over by the police, or is involved in a collision while the insurance company finalizes his insurance.

When the final insurance policy is ready, his insurance company will contact him and send through the contract with his finalized terms of coverage. Once he signs this document, his previous insurance binder will not be valid anymore and his coverage will be fully in place. 

George receiving his binder insurance

Source: Pexels

Our Verdict on Auto Insurance Binders

Car insurance binders are one way that insurance companies try to help their customers get coverage while they verify and process applications.

If you’ve recently set your sights on getting a new car, then having proof of insurance and temporary coverage is crucial if you want to secure the right amount of finance.

Get started today and speak to an insurance agent about how you can get temporary coverage before you drive your new vehicle off the lot.

Insurance Binder FAQs

What is included in an insurance binder?

An insurance binder is a temporary document that provides insurance coverage while insurance companies verify, process, and finalize insurance contracts. They generally last for around 30 days and are valid proof of insurance documents while they are in force.

How long is a binder good for insurance?

A binder will typically be valid for around 30 days; however, your insurance company should generally have the final insurance agreement ready within a few days. Once the term of the binder expires or when you sign your auto insurance policy, the insurance binder won’t be good for insurance purposes.

What is the difference between an insurance policy and a binder?

An insurance policy is a finalized agreement of liability that will stay in place until the contract expires. A binder is a temporary agreement that will offer insurance coverage, but not the same amount of coverage as your final insurance policy.

Can a binder be used as proof of insurance?

Yes, a binder can be used as proof of insurance as long as it is valid. So if you’re binder’s term of validity is 30 days, you can use your insurance binder for those 30 days if you are involved in an accident or collision.

How long does it take to get an insurance binder?

While the time to get an insurance binder will depend on the provider, you can generally get an insurance binder within a couple of hours of your application. If you haven’t received a binder from your preferred insurance company, give them a call and ask what is happening.

Where Can I Learn More about Auto Insurance?

Insurance binders are a great way of ensuring that you’re covered before you get your full coverage plan. These temporary insurance policies are generally easy to get, but you should sign your finalized agreement as soon as possible to avoid headaches or issues with your insurance company. 

If you’d like to find out more about auto insurance, be sure to visit our auto insurance hub today. We have articles on costs, applications, coverage, and other important topics for first-time buyers and seasoned car owners. 

Need some personalized service? Reach out to one of our experienced auto insurance agents today to get help with finding the best coverage in your area and to learn about auto insurance.