When you apply for life insurance, you’ll be asked to share private details about your health, finances, and overall background, including your Social Security number (SSN) and driver’s license number. An underwriter uses this personal information to assign you a risk classification and verify your identity before offering you a policy.
Since identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in America, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA)  , it can naturally be alarming when you're asked to share your SSN with anyone.
In order for life insurance companies to properly identify you, sharing your SSN and driver’s license numbers is necessary.
Insurers and brokers like Policygenius take information security very seriously and take rigid measures to protect your privacy and keep your information secure.
Why do life insurance companies need your Social Security number?
There are five main reasons life insurance companies require your SSN.
SSNs are a reliable and universal way to verify your identity. Underwriters also use your SSN to check if you’ve recently applied for life insurance elsewhere.
Your number is tied to your identity across industries and can be used for everything from confirming your GPA from college to checking your credit score to verifying court records.
Why do life insurance companies need your driver’s license number?
Insurers use your driver’s license number to verify your driving record through motor vehicle reports, or MVRs.
Insurers will use these reports to check for things like speeding tickets, DUIs, at-fault accidents, and license suspensions in your driving history.
Because insurers want to see how risky you are to insure, they’ll use this information to help determine your final life insurance rates — but you won’t need to provide any of this information to get free life insurance quotes online.
Your driver’s license number may also be used along with your SSN to help verify your identity since most states require your SSN before issuing you a driver’s license.
How to prevent fraud and identity theft when applying for insurance
If someone asks for your SSN or other sensitive information, have them verify their phone number or email address with your records.
If the phone number is different from the insurance company or broker’s main number, hang up and call their office to ensure a secure connection.
Always check before clicking on any suspicious links over email. Most insurers will ask for identification over the phone or in-person during the medical exam that’s a standard component of the life insurance application process.
If you suspect fraudulent activity, you can file a complaint or report with any of the following entities:
Your local FBI office
The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB)
The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud (CAIF)
Can the insurance company legally require that I share my SSN and driver’s license number?
Yes, life insurance companies can legally require your driver’s license and Social Security numbers before extending a policy offer.
You always have the option to refuse their request, in which case, the insurance company can decline to sell you a policy.
In other words, it’s legal for the insurer to ask for sensitive information and it’s legal for you to refuse to oblige. Just know you might be forfeiting your ability to get insurance coverage.
What if I don’t have an SSN or driver’s license?
Though many life insurance companies require a Social Security number to apply, there are some that will accept other forms of identification.
For example, most visa and green card holders may apply for life insurance and alternative forms of identification during the application process. Each company has its own requirements for acceptance.
Alternative forms of identification include:
A visa or green card
A state ID card or non-driver photo ID card
Employment authorization document (EAD)
Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
W-8BEN (Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding and Reporting)
If you don’t have a driver’s license because you don’t drive, then you can still apply for life insurance with another form of identification, like a state I.D. or passport.
But if you don’t have a driver’s license because it was suspended or revoked, then there’s a higher chance your application will be postponed until your driver’s license is reinstated.