When you buy a vehicle, be it a bike or a car, you need to get it insured (at least for third party liabilities) before you start driving it on the road. Though most insurers now provide online policy, there are also portals where you can check premium and compare policy of various insurance providers. But many also buy car insurance offline through agents and brokers. When you buy a policy online, you get a confirmation e-mail and a message on your mobile number. However, in case of offline policy, you typically get a cover note.

When you apply for an offline car insurance, the agent issues a cover note, which is typically an application form for car insurance. The agent mentions all the details of the car like registration number, make, model and year of manufacture, engine and chassis number, insured value of the vehicle, cubic capacity, nominee details and so on. 

Cover note acts as a temporary document of insurance cover from the time you apply and pay for the premium, to the time you get the certificate from the insurer. Issuance of a policy certificate takes place after insurer receives a copy of cover note and based on the information mentioned. The process typically takes 10-15 days.

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A cover note remains valid for 60 days from the date of issuance. It serves all the purpose during this period—be it insurance claim or to be presented to the traffic police, if asked. If you don’t receive a policy certificate in a few weeks after the cover note being issued, contact your agent or customer care. Ideally, you should start following up at least couple of weeks in advance and shouldn't wait till the cover note turns invalid. 

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If an insurer fails to issue a policy within 60 days, the company needs to notify this to the Regional Transport Office (RTO) where the car is registered within 7 days of the expiry of the cover note.

A cover note is an important document till a policy certificate is issued; so make sure that details of your car and other information are properly mentioned in it.