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Wondering how soon you have to get insurance after buying a car? Don’t let not knowing enough about car insurance be a downer on your day. In this article, we’ll answer some of the most commonly asked questions about purchasing auto insurance. 

Learn more about the timeline for getting insurance, then take a look at some of the best car insurance companies in the country. If you’re ready to go ahead and purchase an auto insurance policy now, enter your zip code below to start comparing quotes. We always talking to insurance agents and getting at least three quotes so you can compare coverage and price.

Use our quote comparison tool below to get started. Or, for an even easier process, call our team at (844) 246-8209 to get free, personalized quotes seven days a week.

 

In this article:

 

How Soon Do You Need Insurance After Buying A Car?

If you currently have auto insurance on a car, you typically have a grace period of seven to thirty days before you have to report your new car to your insurance company. Your current policy should extend to your new car automatically during this period of time, but check with your provider to confirm this.

If this is your first car purchase and you don’t have car insurance coverage already, you have to buy insurance before you can take possession of the car. Remember, it’s illegal in almost every state to drive a car uninsured and without proof of insurance, and the consequences of driving or being involved in an accident without proper insurance can be severe.

And how long do you have to get insurance after buying a used car? The process is the same for new and used cars. You need full coverage to take possession of the vehicle.

State Laws On Auto Policy Grace Periods

Some states require car insurance companies to provide a written letter with the intent to cancel your plan before doing so. In short, it all comes down to your policy and your state laws.

When reading through state laws on car insurance policies, look for grace period and cancellation regulations.

Some states require companies to give you 10 to 20 days to get back on track with payments. In other cases, such as in Wisconsin, car insurance companies can cancel your plan the moment you miss your due date.

 


 

How Long Is A Car Insurance Grace Period?

As we mentioned, grace periods vary between 24 hours to a month – quite a large range. State car insurance laws also come into play if your plan lapses.

All but two states (New Hampshire and Virginia) require some form of car insurance at all times, and even those require confirmation to drive without insurance from the DMV. So, in a nutshell, you can’t simply jump in a car without insurance documentation.

The specific length of a grace period and steps that must be taken before a lapse in coverage come down to your location and your plan. If possible, get this information in writing from your company before you face late payments or create a gap in your coverage.

Can You Use The Grace Period Every Month?

Typically, car insurance companies place limits on how many times they will accept late payments. If your company has no limits on how many times you can take advantage of your grace period, it’s still not a great idea to depend on this safety net.

Many providers charge late fees or raise premiums when you renew your auto insurance, significantly adding to your overall insurance rates in the long run.

Do All Carriers Offer A Car Insurance Grace Period?

In short, no, but many have car insurance grace periods to remain competitive, so it's important to talk to an insurance agent about plan details. Some companies may even also allow a specific number of late payments before enforcing stricter regulations – such as if you’re late on your payments three months in a row.

Most companies do not want to lose you as a customer over one late payment. However, since car insurance plans are based on trust, be sure to do your due diligence to alert your company of any complications.

 


 

Should You Buy A Car Or Insurance First?

In most cases, you want to buy car insurance before you buy a car. The exception to this is if you already have an insurance policy for a different vehicle.

If you are adding a vehicle to your policy or replacing one, your existing policy should cover the new car too, so you don’t need a new policy before you drive the vehicle home.

If you don’t have insurance, you can purchase a your new ride first, but it’s easier if you can get the car insurance policy first so you can take possession of the car on the purchase date.

Here are a few more things you should know about insurance when buying a car:

 

When You Already Have Insurance

When You Don’t Have Insurance

New Car

You have a 7- to 30-day grace period (depending on your state) to tell your car insurance company about the new vehicle.

You must buy insurance before taking possession and driving the car off the lot. If you don’t, you won’t be able to take possession of the vehicle.

Used Car

If you know exactly which car you are buying, give the VIN, purchase price, and other information to your insurance company.

You must buy insurance before taking possession and driving the vehicle off the car dealership lot. Independent sellers don’t usually ask for your insurance information, but driving without insurance or proof of financial responsibility is illegal.

Financing or Leasing a Car

Be sure your current insurance includes the collision coverage and comprehensive coverage required for your loan or lease.

Be sure you have each type of coverage required for your loan or lease. You will at least need liability insurance and a lender may ask for gap insurance.

 

 


 

How Do I Get Proof Of Insurance Before Buying A Car?

If you already know exactly which car you are going to buy, you can pre-purchase insurance with information like the vehicle identification number (VIN). We recommend comparison shopping by contacting a variety of auto insurance companies so you know you’re getting the best coverage.

When you buy a vehicle from a dealership, representatives can also help you find the right coverage for your new car on site.  You’ll be able to call an insurance company from the dealership to start a policy once you’ve picked out the car you want.

In the event that you already have car insurance (possibly for another car at home), you can show your insurance card at the dealership.

Can You Buy Car Insurance Over The Weekend?

It's important to know how purchasing insurance works when car shopping. Some car insurance companies are open on the weekend, but in general, you’ll need to wait until a weekday to add a vehicle to your policy or purchase insurance for the first time.

 


 

Our Recommended Car Insurance Providers

When shopping for new car insurance, it’s smart to compare quotes. When we researched insurance industry leaders, Progressive and State Farm were two providers that stood out for extensive coverage and reasonable rates.

If you’re ready to start comparing car insurance quotes, enter your zip code below or give our team a call at (844) 246-8209. Along with the providers you choose, factors like your age, vehicle make and model, and driving history can affect the car insurance rates you see.

 

#1 Progressive: Best For High-Risk Drivers

Progressive Insurance logo

If you’re in your 20s or have a DUI in your driving history, you’re considered a high-risk driver. Getting affordable coverage can be difficult, so we recommend looking into Progressive car insurance. We named the provider best for high-risk drivers in our industry review.

There are many perks to becoming a Progressive customer, like access to easy-to-use technology like the Name Your Price tool. The tool allows you to start searching for auto insurance with the amount you want to pay, then shows you plans that fit within your budget. Plus, there’s the usage-based Snapshot program that can be a good choice for people who don’t drive very much. According to the Progressive website, drivers save an average of $145 after using Snapshot.

Read more in our full Progressive insurance review.

#2 State Farm: Best For Students 

State Farm Insurance logo

State Farm auto insurance is our top choice for students, but most drivers can find great coverage with State Farm. The insurer has a variety of discounts and mobile apps like Steer Clear and Drive Safe & Save™. Steer Clear is a driving refresher program that encourages safe driving habits in customers under the age of 25, while Drive Safe & Save monitors driving habits for drivers of all ages to help them save on car insurance.

Along with standard coverage, State Farm has extras like rental and travel expense reimbursement, rideshare coverage, and roadside assistance.

Read more in our full State Farm insurance review.

 


 

FAQ: What Are The Requirements For A New Car Purchase?

Can I drive a car I just bought without plates?

If you have a car without license plates, you’ll have to have it delivered to your house. It can’t be driven or even parked on a public road in most cases until you have a registration and insurance. When you purchase a car from a dealership, it will have temporary license plates.

What happens if I'm involved in a car accident before I have a chance to notify my insurance company of my new car?

If you’re in an accident before you have a chance to notify your existing insurance company of your new car, you should still be covered up to the same liability limits on your policy. But you should check with your provider to be sure.

Is there still a grace period if you buy a car from a private seller?

When you buy a car from an individual, your current auto insurance coverage grace period should apply. You have the same amount of time to notify your provider as if you were buying the car from a dealership, which can be up to 30 days in some states.

What happens if I have a lapse in coverage?

It’s very important that you avoid having a lapse in coverage. A lapse in coverage not only leaves you unprotected, but it can also work against you when you’re trying to get coverage later on. Auto insurance companies see a lapse in coverage as a red flag and may increase your rates as a result.

 


 

Methodology

In an effort to provide accurate and unbiased information to consumers, our expert review team collects data from dozens of auto insurance providers to formulate rankings of the best insurers. Companies receive a score in each of the following categories, as well as an overall weighted score out of 5.0 stars.

  • Industry Standing: Insurers with strong financial ratings and customer-first business practices receive the highest scores in this category.
  • Availability: We consider availability by state as well as exclusions for specific groups of drivers.
  • Coverage: This rating is based on types of insurance available, maximum coverage limits, and add-on policies.
  • Cost and Discounts: Our research team reviews sample quotes for a variety of drivers in every state. Companies with lower prices and many car insurance discount opportunities receive the best scores.
  • Customer Service: We comb through customer reviews and consumer feedback studies from experts like J.D. Power.
  • Technology: Auto insurers with mobile apps, advanced online services and telematics are more likely to meet consumer needs.

 

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