How to Buy Car Insurance (For New & Used Cars)

Last updated on September 13, 2023

Buying a new or used vehicle can be an exhilarating experience, but the not-so-thrilling part follows: how to buy car insurance for your new ride.

Regardless of whether your vehicle is new or pre-owned, your state’s regulations and your lender (if applicable) will mandate a minimum level of car insurance.

So, how do you go about insuring your new car, and what should you consider when shopping for the right coverage?

Coverage TypeDescription
Liability InsuranceCovers damage to other vehicles and medical expenses when you’re at fault in an accident.
Comprehensive InsuranceOptional coverage that pays for non-collision damages like theft, vandalism, or storm damage.
Collision InsuranceCovers repair or replacement costs for your vehicle if it’s stolen or damaged in an accident.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP)Helps pay for medical bills for yourself and passengers in covered accidents.
Full CoverageAn all-inclusive policy including liability, comprehensive, collision, and sometimes more, depending on the state.
Gap InsuranceRequired by lenders when financing or leasing; covers the gap between the car’s value and the remaining loan balance.

How to switch insurance to a new car

Your existing car insurance typically covers your new vehicle initially, often with the same coverage levels as your old car.

Some dealerships may even permit you to drive your new purchase off the lot if you provide proof of current insurance and commit to insuring the vehicle.

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However, you’ll have a limited timeframe to secure a new policy. To stick with your current insurer, promptly inform them of your new purchase.

While some insurers offer a grace period for adding a new vehicle to your policy, it’s best to update your coverage before leaving the dealership if no grace period is available.

If you trade in or sell your old car, you might transfer your existing insurance coverage to your new vehicle. Nevertheless, assess whether your previous coverage suits your new car’s needs.

Your previous choices may not align with your new vehicle, so reevaluate your car insurance requirements.

It’s also a good practice to compare insurance quotes, policy options, and potential discounts from various providers to ensure you’re obtaining the most suitable coverage at the best price.

☞ How to insure a new car without previous coverage

Some drivers may need to establish brand-new car insurance when purchasing a vehicle.

In such cases, it’s crucial to secure adequate insurance before driving your new car, even if you’re paying in cash. Attempting to drive without car insurance can jeopardize your financial security and legal compliance.

How to Get Car Insurance Before Buying a Car

It’s illegal to drive without insurance, but you can set up coverage before owning a vehicle.

Consider options such as a non-owner policy or insurance for the specific car you plan to purchase.

Additionally, you can apply for a temporary car insurance binder, serving as proof of insurance to lenders and meeting legal requirements until your formal auto policy is approved.

What are my car insurance coverage options?

When contacting insurance agents or carriers for the first time, you’ll receive car insurance quotes based on your chosen coverage. Common coverage options include:

  • Liability insurance: Mandatory in most states, it covers damage caused to other vehicles and medical expenses for at-fault accidents.
  • Comprehensive insurance: Optional coverage for non-collision damages like theft, vandalism, or storm damage, typically required for financed or leased vehicles.
  • Collision insurance: Covers repair or replacement costs for your vehicle after theft, accidents, or other covered events.
  • Personal injury protection (PIP) insurance: Pays for medical bills for you and your passengers in covered accidents.
  • Full coverage car insurance: An umbrella term encompassing liability, comprehensive, and collision coverage, and sometimes more, required in states where it’s mandated by law.
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Remember, the effective date of your new insurance starts with your first payment, which may require two months of premiums upfront depending on your policy and the insurer’s requirements.

How to Find the Best Car Insurance

Insuring a new car may seem daunting initially, but these tips can help you secure the coverage you need while keeping costs in check:

  • Shop around: Obtain quotes from multiple insurance companies to find the most affordable car insurance.
  • Assess your coverage needs: Your new car may require different coverage than your old vehicle. Consider the car’s value, intended use, and potential additional features.
  • Understand state requirements: Familiarize yourself with your state’s minimum car insurance requirements and coverage limits.
  • Evaluate gap insurance: If financing or leasing your car, you may need gap insurance to cover the balance of your auto loan in case of theft or total loss.
  • Consider additional coverage: Even if paying cash, weigh the benefits of comprehensive and collision coverage to protect your investment.
  • Seek discounts: Many insurers offer discounts, such as bundling policies, taking defensive driving courses, maintaining good grades, or using telematics devices.
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Documents and Info Needed for Car Insurance

When setting up new car insurance or transferring existing coverage to a new vehicle, prepare essential documentation, including:

  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Title information
  • Financing or leasing details
  • Driver’s license
  • Vehicle inspection or appraisal (if necessary)
  • Credit check (depending on your state), which may impact your insurance rates

By following these guidelines and being prepared, you can navigate the process of insuring your new vehicle with confidence and ensure you’re adequately protected on the road.

☞ Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Car Insurance

Neglecting Basic Research and Comparison

It’s crucial to conduct thorough research and compare car insurance policies. Online platforms make this process easier, allowing individuals to explore various insurance options and verify their authenticity through official insurance company websites.

Opting for Minimal Coverage to Reduce Costs

While low-cost car insurance might seem appealing, it’s important to examine the details. Ensure that the policy provides adequate coverage for your needs. Comprehensive insurance may have a higher premium than basic third-party coverage, but it offers more extensive protection.

Failing to Install Anti-Theft Devices

Installing security devices in your car can lead to insurance premium discounts. Inform your insurer about these devices, as they reduce the risk of theft or damage to your vehicle.

Mismanaging the Insured’s Declared Value (IDV)

The Insured’s Declared Value (IDV) plays a crucial role in premium calculations. A higher IDV results in a higher sum insured and premium, while a lower IDV lowers both. Striking the right balance in IDV selection is key to choosing the right insurance.

Forgetting to Renew Your Policy

Failing to renew car insurance before it expires can result in heavy fines and expenses for any damage. Moreover, driving without valid insurance may lead to legal consequences. Always renew your insurance on time.

Skipping Policy Verification

While buying car insurance online is convenient, remember to review and verify the policy details. Ensuring that all information aligns with your chosen plan is essential, as errors can lead to claim rejections.

Selecting Unnecessary Add-Ons

Avoid the temptation of adding non-essential options to your policy, which can increase the premium. Analyze your insurance requirements before investing in any add-ons.

Withholding Information

Provide accurate information about yourself and your vehicle to the insurer. Concealing important details like age or driving history to reduce premiums can result in disadvantages, including claim rejections and legal complications.

By avoiding these mistakes, you can make informed decisions when purchasing car insurance and ensure you have the coverage you need.

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Pavlos Written by:

Hey — It’s Pavlos. Just another human sharing my thoughts on all things money. Nothing more, nothing less.