You may have anywhere from 2 to 30 days to tell your insurance company that you bought a new car if you are already insured, depending on financing and coverage details. If you don’t have car insurance already, you’ll need to get a new policy before you can legally drive your new car. Most car dealerships require proof of insurance to drive off the lot, so you’ll have to do some planning.
Either way, it’s wise to get car insurance quotes for different vehicles before buying one. That way, you’ll have a sense of which make and model is likely to increase or decrease your premium the most. At the very least, it’s something to take into account when picking your new car.
If you have an existing car insurance policy, there are two common grace periods for getting insurance on a new car:
2 to 4 days is common if you are adding a new car to an existing policy. Most car insurance companies will extend coverage to the new car in good faith, since it is usually required to get a loan. Such policies are designed to allow you to drive your new car home and make a call to your insurer quickly thereafter.
7 to 30 days is common if you are replacing a covered vehicle with a new car you purchased outright. In these cases, you can probably expect to have the same level of coverage as before. If you had liability-only coverage on the car you’re replacing, your new car would also have liability-only coverage.
Your policy term will transfer to the new vehicle in most cases, so you won’t have to start over with a new six-month or one-year policy.
If you are financing or leasing a new car, you may also want to consider adding gap insurance to your policy. Gap insurance will help pay the difference between the car’s market value and what you owe on your loan. Although collision coverage will pay fair market value for a totaled car, that may end up being less than you owe if you total your new car right away.
No matter how much time your insurance company gives you to get insurance on a new car, it’s best to reach out as soon as possible. Coverage specifics vary widely depending on state laws, insurance company rules, and individual policy provisions. If you miss a deadline, you could end up driving uninsured, which could result in legal fees, higher car insurance premiums, loss of your driver’s license, and more.
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