Insurance - general - why can't we look up the insured item by its identifier to check cover?


In regards to my insured items, I think I should be be able to look them up online or, at the very least phone the company I may have insurance with to check when my cover is due. For each insured item I think I should be able to provide the identifiers needed when I take out the policy, which the insurer should then be able to search on and tell me my details. For example;

  • Home - the address
  • Car - rego/vin
  • Life, health, travel - my details

In my experience, when I rely on memory to renew for example, my home insurance, I phone the companies most likely, they are not able to search on the address of the property insured. This is also the case for cars, the insurance companies, all that I have phoned, are not able to search on the number plate or vin number. They can search on my name and my ever changing address. I don’t even think they can search on my phone number.

Point being; surely the item insured should be the unique identifier and able to be used to find the policy by the insurer. I know I should have all the details to hand, and I don’t. If I did, what if my house burns down, I can’t access internet and want to make a claim? As a person who shops around and changes insurer regularly to save money, I am not great at keeping the current record of the insurer.

I like to hear thoughts on the idea that everyone should be able to search an identifier online such as a number plate or an address to check the insured status. Simply the company doing the insuring and the date of expiry is all I need.

I look forward to reading the many reasons we don’t want that in the replies.

Thank you

It’s not clear why this would be necessary, or considers any privacy concerns attached.

Why not establish an online account with your insurer and log in anytime to your personal account to check?

Why not simply refer to the issued policy documents with your insurances and put a date reminder on the mobile with a 30 day reminder?

Hopefully others can offer some further ways to solve your problem.


A insurer will be able to pull a policy based on the above identifiers that you have dot pointed, but won’t give them out to an enquirer unless they know that the person they are speaking to is the policy holder or authorised to manage the insurance policy in question (such as a insurance broker with authorisation or power of attorney).

Maybe this might be something you need to see how you can improve. If you have a smart phone, are apps which can do this for you. Even many insurers have apps that one can manage the policies held with them.

If you have internet connection, there are online platforms (such as calendars or notebooks) that can keep such records for you.

You can phone them. They will ask some identifying questions to ensure who they are speaking to is the person who holds the policy. All one needs to know is who is the insurer who holds the house, car, life, health, travel etc insurance.

If one has problems recollecting such information, friends and family may be able to keep a list of those you use (without any other information). Likewise, if you have a family lawyer, many will also put such information on your file especially if they prepared and hold copies of your current Will. Such information is important to those executing a will…and having such information on record will safe a lot of time and effort.


Even though I am computer savvy, and have online access to almost everything, I still maintain the good old method of an in-tray, an out-tray, and a keep for reference tray.
Things that arrive go in the in-tray, with important things like due date and expiry marked with a highlighter pen.
Once processed they go into the out-tray.
Every few months, I go through the out-tray and put things to be kept, like insurance policy and receipts for warranty and tax purposes into the keep for reference tray.
Very simple and almost impossible to lose information you need to keep.


Assumes the house does not burn down while you are not looking, of course. Assume you have a digital backup and offsite storage.

Whether there is a best strategy, it may be that best is the one that most works for each of us. We don’t all see things the same way. All our key financial needs are connected to us through email and our email account. Assuming one lost everything except the clothes on our back, the more essential needs can be re-established by logging in from any device. Even if the mobile is gone, in our instance the iPhones are cloud backed up and other data synced automatically.

There are several other Choice and Community topics on backing up and password managers for those so inclined. For my mum and dad now passed on their strategies from the pre digital world we’re less sophisticated. Always take the handbag or wallet with you, and keep it next to the bed when asleep. Mum’s grew to resemble a backpack for a week long camping trip. Core documents such as titles, insurance policies and wills were in a secure storage at the bank and latterly the solicitor. Both of which can also burn down, fire safe storage uncertain. They relied totally on paper billing and paying over the counter by cash or cheque. It’s understandable that others including my MiL think the same.


Of course. But I was referring to lose in terms of throwing out things you need to keep, and if kept, knowing where to find those documents that have the details you need.
The same three tray regime I use in electronic delivery with an external provider.


Welcome to the community Kelly.

May I suggest that you need to change insurers. I can ring up my insurer and give them one of the regos and they can find everything. I also just give them my address; my name; my phone number; or one of my policy numbers.

My insurer also sends out a reminder that my insurance for xxxx policy is coming due in one or two (I can’t remember which) month’s time. They send another reminder a fortnight or so before it is due. This gives me time to make any changes or look at quotes from other insurers.

I can also log on to my account at any time and see all my policies, and make any changes I wish.

I assume here that you are talking at the macro level, eg the home address, and not at the micro level such as an item within your content insurance.

Again, I can just ring up, identify myself, and I can discuss or change or make a claim relating to any or all of my policies.

There is much more to consider than $price for the policy, such as how good is the insurer at paying out claims; how helpful are they when you need help; how easy is it to access your policy information from anywhere; what is their availability (24/7/365) in case of a crisis; etc.

I think that the lesson from this is cheapest is not always the best.


Same here. I make a note of the date and make the payment well ahead. No problems.
If I have a query: I call-up, tell them my first name and my policy number, they ask me to confirm my details and we go from there. No problems.


If I interpret the OP correctly I think that is the crux of the matter, that the OP proposes a customer should not need to keep track of the companies they have policies with so poses the premise one should be able to call any insurance company (or government agency or place where records are kept) and find out which if any company has insured it.

Seems a step beyond? Or have I misinterpreted?

As others posted, all the insurance companies I deal with can find my account from the account/policy number or literally any useful related bit of information from my name or phone number to almost anything related to the account.


Seems a lot to expect to make-up for one’s forgetfulness :laughing::joy:


Perhaps it would be simpler to keep all your insurance documentation in a folder so that if you need to contact them for any reason you can pick the policy number off one of their documents and not have to rely on memory. As for reminders about renewals most insurers seem quite good at that as it gets them money.

I also keep a calendar of important dates that I update in January each year. This tells me when car rego, insurance, medical reviews and other import matters fall due in case the organisation fails to remind me - or in my case the mail takes more than its 3-5 weeks to arrive.


This would be gold for the insurance companies if there was a centralised database held somewhere (say government) for anyone including insurers to do searches with. Assuming no privacy issues, it would give insurers key information on who holds insurance and which competitor one insures with. Expect a flood of direct marketing information. I would say, no thank you and wouldn’t want sharing of information.


For clarity that is quoted out of context and I did not nor would make such a suggestion. @phb included the obvious reasons.