How many days do you have to get auto insurance?

When you have existing auto insurance and you buy a new car, you may have 2 to 4 weeks to add it to your policy. Multi-vehicle discounts can save you up to 25%.

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Mathew B. Sims is Editor-in-Chief and has authored, edited, and contributed to several books. He has been working in the insurance industry ensuring content is accurate for consumers who are searching for the best policies and rates...

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance...

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Reviewed byDaniel Walker
Licensed Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Apr 23, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...
  • When you buy a new car and you have existing insurance, you have between 14 and 30 days to add the new vehicle to your insurance
  • Some policies have provisions that state that a replacement vehicle (after a trade in) will receive the same level of protection as the vehicle it’s replacing for the remainder of the term
  • If you don’t add a new vehicle to your policy before the automatic coverage period elapses, you won’t have coverage until you contact your insurer
  • When you buy a car and you aren’t the named insured on an existing policy, you must buy coverage as soon as you take ownership of the vehicle
  • Vehicle owners who move to a new state will be given until they get their new plates to transfer their insurance

When you buy a new car or you’re moving to a new state, it’s all about timing.

You may be busy comparing interest rates or searching for a new home, but getting sufficient auto insurance should be a priority on your to-do list.

If you don’t get your auto insurance in a timely manner, you could be forced to pay for damage and injury claims without help.

If you’re wondering how many days you have to get insurance, the answer depends on the scenario.

You have a lot more time to get insurance on a new vehicle purchase when you have an existing policy. Here’s your guide so that you can plan accordingly.

Start comparison shopping today to make sure you get the right coverage at the right price. Enter your zip code in our FREE tool to get started!

Auto Insurance Policies are Legal Contracts

Personal Auto Policies are indemnity contracts, which means that the insurance company agrees to pay for the liability of the policyholder, also known as the indemnitee.

Since the contract itself is governed by the law of contracts, insurance companies must be very specific as to who, what, and how drivers and vehicles are covered.

Auto insurance policies can be very wordy and full of legal terms that are designed to make the terms and conditions as clear as possible.

Unfortunately, the legalese can be difficult for the average person to understand. All of the lengthy definitions help to ensure that you don’t misinterpret how you’re protected.

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Personal Auto Insurance Policies Have an Automatic Coverage Provision

Your contract will explain just how long you have to insure a new vehicle once the term starts.

If you have existing insurance and you’re planning on buying a new car, it’s helpful to find out how long your vehicle will automatically be protected.

Luckily, provisions built into the policy make it easy to cover a new purchase.

Newly acquired vehicles are defined as personal vehicles that you take ownership of after the policy takes effect.

Under your Personal Auto Policy, a newly acquired vehicle is automatically covered for between 14 and 30 days.

If you fail to add the vehicle during that time, you won’t have coverage on the new car until you contact your agent.

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How much coverage does a newly acquired vehicle have?

The vehicle will have the broadest form of coverage on your policy for that entire period of time.

If you don’t have full coverage, the company will give you four days of comprehensive and collision coverage with a $500 deductible.

Be sure that you are a named insured on the policy and a registered vehicle owner before you assume that you have automatic coverage.

Are there special provisions when you trade your car in?

A new car has coverage for a limited amount of time.

A vehicle that is permanently replacing the covered auto on your policy will have the same level of protection as the old vehicle for the remainder of your term.

If you don’t add the vehicle to your policy, the insurer will still cover claims reported during that term if the policy is active.

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When do you buy auto insurance if you don’t have existing insurance?

If you are only a rated driver or you don’t have insurance at all, you need to buy auto insurance immediately after you purchase a car.

It’s your duty to apply for coverage and pay for that coverage before you drive off the dealer lot.

In fact, agents will ask you for evidence of insurance before they give you the keys.

How long do you have to get insurance when you’re moving out of state?

When you move out of state, you need to transfer your insurance to the new state instead of just changing your mailing address.

Transferring your insurance means that the policy will be written under the new state’s laws. In some cases, you will need to get insurance from a new carrier altogether.

You may not need to transfer your insurance the day of your move, but you do need to get it taken care of when you get your new plates.

Most states require you to show you have in-state liability insurance before you will get your new vehicle registration.

If you’re looking to buy a competitive insurance policy, you should take the time to shop around. You can find great rates through all of the state’s best carriers by using an online rate comparison tool.

Enter your zip code into our FREE comparison tool and access instant quotes.

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