No, you do not need insurance to buy a car, but you will need insurance to drive the car home. Most dealerships require proof of insurance before allowing you to leave with a car, since almost every state requires drivers to have car insurance coverage whenever they are behind the wheel.
If you currently have a car insurance policy, most insurers will cover a new car up to your existing policy limits for 7-30 days. However, state laws and company policies differ, so you should ideally communicate with your insurer before you go car shopping. And if you’re leasing or financing a car, be sure to check the lender’s or lessor’s insurance requirements, since you might need to adjust your policy details accordingly.
On the other hand, if you are purchasing a car and do not have an existing auto insurance policy, it’s best to buy insurance before going to the dealership or private seller. If you know the exact car you’ll be purchasing, you can ask the seller for the vehicle identification number (VIN) in advance and use the VIN to purchase a policy tailored to that car. Otherwise, you can get insurance quotes for multiple car models beforehand and buy a policy before you actually drive off the lot.
To get a car insurance card for proof of insurance, log into your account on the car insurance company’s website or call customer service to request one. Some insurance carriers also provide insurance cards via email, the company’s smartphone app, insurance agents, or brokers.
Request a physical insurance card online by logging into your company’s website
Call customer service or your insurance agent to request proof of insurance
Ask for a digital copy of the card to be sent via email
Access a digital card on the company’s smartphone app
Wait for insurance cards to come in the mail if you are a new policyholder
Insurance companies generally send new customers an insurance card in the mail along with the other details of their policy when they sign up. Most companies actually send you two copies of your insurance card. One copy should go in the car, and the other should stay on your person or in a safe place at home for your own reference.
Police officers commonly ask for proof of insurance when they pull you over. If you don’t have it, you’ll likely have to pay a fine.
2. You get into an accident
One of the first things that you need to do after getting into an accident is exchange insurance information with the other driver. Your car insurance card will have all of the information that the other driver needs if they plan to file a liability insurance claim.
If you lose your insurance card, or you realize the information is incorrect, you should contact your insurer immediately to get a replacement. Your insurance company will usually email you a temporary card or have you download one from their website until a physical card can arrive in the mail.
If your card is missing or contains errors and you aren’t able to provide proof of insurance during a traffic stop, you will likely be ticketed for driving without insurance. If you do have a policy, most states will allow you to provide proof of insurance after the fact and have the ticket dismissed. However, you might still need to pay fees or fines, and the added inconvenience can be avoided by keeping your insurance information in your car at all times.
Digital Insurance Cards
Insurance cards these days aren’t always physical cards. Digital insurance cards are considered legally acceptable proof of insurance for a traffic stop everywhere except New Mexico. But if you plan on using digital proof of insurance, make sure you know how to access it in advance so you’re not scrambling when you need it. Having a paper copy in your glovebox is still a smart back-up in case of technical difficulties, too.
At the end of the day, maintaining insurance coverage and keeping an accurate insurance card in your car can prove that you have the necessary coverage and protect you from the penalties that come with driving uninsured: fines, a suspended license, and even jail time.
You need proof of car insurance before you can drive a newly-purchased used car off the lot, if you’re buying from a dealership. If you’re planning to add the used car to an existing insurance policy, your vehicle may be covered for as long as 30 days, depending on your insurer. And if you’re purchasing the car from a private seller, you may not be required to show … read full answerproof of insurance at all.
The grace period for adding a new car to an insurance policy varies by insurer. Some companies, like Nationwide, provide a grace period of 10 days, while Progressive, Geico, and Farmers provide a grace period of 30 days. In most cases, your policy term will transfer to a new vehicle, so you won’t have to start over with a new six-month or one-year policy.
Before purchasing a used car, make sure you contact your insurance company so that you understand their grace period. If you miss a deadline, you could end up unintentionally driving without insurance, which could result in stiff penalties.
However, it’s important to recognize that not all state laws allow this grace period for used car purchases and car insurance. Some states, like New York, do not allow any grace period for car insurance. Additionally, insurance companies vary in how long they’ll cover a newly purchased vehicle that’s not on your policy. Some companies, like Nationwide, provide a grace period of 10 days, while Progressive, Geico and Farmers provide a grace period of 30 days for customers who already have an existing car insurance policy.
Checking your state laws and insurance company rules before purchasing a used car will help you better understand the regulations that apply to your particular case.
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