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All About the VIN (not Diesel)

All About the VIN (not Diesel)


This week is all about the VIN in relation to your car/truck/SUV and what it means when it comes to insurance. The Vehicle Identification Number is not only a 17-character serial number, it also holds some vital information needed for insurance rating.

From 1954 to 1981, vehicle manufacturers created their own VIN identifiers that varied widely as far as length and alpha-numeric combinations. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration standardized the now-recognizable format for all automobiles in 1981. The VIN can be found in several places on a vehicle, most-notably in the lower corner of the driver’s side windshield. It can also be found in newer cars on stickers placed inside the door of the driver or passenger side, as well as on the engine, transmission, fenders, even truck pickup beds.

The VIN contains information if you can decode it. Here is what the different character positions reveal about your vehicle:

First position character = denotes where vehicle was manufactured (1,4,5 are US designations, 2 is Canada, 3 is Mexico, J is Japan, W is Germany)

Second & third position characters = denotes the vehicle manufacturer (so a 1FM would indicate that it is a Ford built in the United States)

Fourth through eighth position characters = denotes vehicle brand, engine size, & type

Ninth position character = denotes vehicle security code (also known as a “check digit”)

Tenth position character = denotes vehicle year

Eleventh position character = denotes which plant manufactured vehicle

Twelfth through seventeenth position characters = denotes the serial number of the vehicle

The VIN is important to insurance carriers not only to identify the vehicle they are insuring, but also helps in assigning an Insurance Rating Symbol when it comes to calculating insurance premiums.

The Insurance Services Office is an international advisory & rating organization that helps the insurance industry with actuarial & statistical data in determining the insuring of property/casualty risks. Using information from this service based on claims/damage/other collected data, insurance carriers have developed rating symbols to help them properly rate vehicles.

The higher the Insurance Rating Symbol assigned to a vehicle, the higher the payout the insurance company will most likely make in case of a claim. Factors such as theft susceptibility, cost of replacement parts, safety features & ratings,  desirability, and even the cost new of the vehicle.

The IRS does not factor in such other ratings as age of driver, location of vehicle, miles to work, coverage purchased so the premium for the same vehicle would be different for an 18 year old versus a 45 year old.

When shopping for a vehicle, be sure to contact your hometown insurance agent to see what the insurance premiums will be before signing on the dotted line. Better to be informed before a purchase than get “sticker shock” on your next insurance bill!


Contact Us!

At Marsilje & Vander Plow Insurance Agency, we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable. Just give us a call at 616-396-1497 or send us a note at marsiljeins@gmail.com. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!





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