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What's a VIN?

Are you ready to explore the DNA of your vehicle and the secrets it contains?

2 minutes read

The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), is a universal code to identify vehicles uniquely. This number (or identifier) contains essential information about your car, such as where it was built, by what manufacturer, what kind of vehicle it is, details about the engine, and even it's safety rankings.

Anyone who has purchased a brand new car should be familiar with the details of a VIN as that information is needed to register your vehicle or buy car insurance. Those who plan to buy a second-hand car can also check the VIN by using one of many websites or official data sources to ensure that the vehicle in question does not have damage due to an accident, has been stolen, or modified illegally.

The format of the VIN is standard and straightforward. It's a 17-digit alphanumeric identifier, where each digit has a specific meaning. For example, the below depiction prepared by The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) shows what each digit of a VIN means. More details are provided by the IBC via a document linked on their website.


For even more details on your car that are captured by its VIN, you can use one of many publicly available websites that will automatically decode the VIN data that you input. Since a VIN is not considered personally identifiable information (PII), there shouldn't be privacy issues with using any site. However, we highly recommend you use the Insurance Bureau of Canada's VIN decoder website if you are a resident of Canada. IBC also tells you if your vehicle has been through any natural disaster or whether it was previously identified as a stolen car. Especially for those who plan to purchase a second-hand car, we highly recommend checking its VIN before you make a decision.

At Allegory we also use the details provided by a VIN when we create a "What You Drive" score. Since each VIN is unique, describing features that may be more expensive; or, like some advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), that reduce your risk of an accident, your overall risk level hence your insurance premium, must reflect this uniqueness. Once you download the Allegory App, we can use the data sets that we've collected to identify what type of standard and optional safety features your car has. While the year, make, and model are all vital information, rapid improvements in ADAS have been proven to prevent accidents tremendously. For example, if your car has a Forward-Collision Warning (FCW) with an optionally added autobraking feature, your accident risk reduces by at least 5.6%, according to our analysis. Therefore, we believe that your insurance company must use these features while determining your insurance premium.

Join Allegory today and start building your personalized insurance score and get the rate you deserve.

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