Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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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. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020

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The lowdown...

  • When you buy a new car and you have auto insurance in force, the policy that you’re carrying will extend to the property
  • Newly acquired vehicles are covered under a standard personal car insurance policy for between 14 and 30 days depending on the state
  • If the new car that you bought is replacing a vehicle that you have listed on the policy, the terms and conditions of your contract say that the replacement vehicle will be automatically covered for the remainder of the term
  • If you don’t have full coverage and you’re financing a car, you will only have 4 days of comprehensive and collision protection. After the 4 days are up, you need to have the vehicle added to your policy to purchase full coverage
  • You can change the car that you have on your policy by endorsing your policy. As long as the car is registered in the same state, all you have to do is make a call and give your agent the vehicle’s VIN and odometer reading

Buying a new car doesn’t mean that you don’t have to buy a completely new auto insurance policy. In fact, if you’re going to trade your car in or sell your old car privately, insuring your new car is as simple as making a phone call. You don’t necessarily have to contact multiple companies to activate coverage.

While changing your insurance to cover your new car instead of your old car is quick and easy, it’s the timing that matters most.

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If you’re the type of consumer who procrastinates when it comes to taking care of business, you need to know how long you have to add your new car to your insurance before the car becomes uninsured so that you don’t procrastinate too long. Here’s a consumer guide so that you know how to update your policy:

Does your auto insurance cover a new car?

Auto insurance policies cover one or multiple cars that are listed under the contract as a covered auto.

Not only are the vehicles that are listed covered, the contract also covers temporary substitute cars that you don’t own and newly acquired vehicles that you purchased during the policy period for a limited amount of time.

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How long is the new car covered under your existing policy?

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When you buy a new car, you don’t have to immediately buy coverage on the vehicle as long as you have a policy in force at the time. It doesn’t mean that you don’t ever have to call and have the covered property under the policy changed at some time.

If you procrastinate too long, you could be penalized by the state, the DMV, or your finance company.

How long you have to add your new car depends on the state that you live in and what you decided to do with your old car. If you buy a new car and plan to add it to your policy as a second, third, or even fourth car, the car will only have coverage for a short period of time.

Here’s a breakdown of automatic coverage periods and how they work:

  • Adding a new car – coverage will extend for between 14 and 30 days depending on the state and the carrier
  • Replacing a car with a new car – coverage will be afforded for the rest of the policy term

What type of coverage will the new car have before you call your agent?

Before you pick up the phone and add your new car, the policy will provide you with the broadest form of coverage that a car already listed has.

This is only the case when you’re adding an additional vehicle. If you’re replacing a car on the policy, the car will receive the same exact coverage as the car it’s replacing, even if another car has broader limits.

What if you don’t currently have full coverage on your policy?

If you have a liability-only policy, it’s something to consider before you visit the dealer. This is especially true if you’re financing the vehicle that you’re purchasing.

Luckily, your auto insurance contract will give you 4 days of automatic comprehensive and collision coverage with $500 deductibles so that you have a little time to make the call.

After the four days of the coverage, the extension is up. You need to call the agent and add the new car complete with full coverage so there’s no lapse. To prevent any issue, you may want to consider adding full coverage to your old car before you buy a new car so that you’re not as rushed to make the changes.

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What can happen if you don’t have full coverage on a car that you finance?

If you don’t add your new car and you don’t have full coverage on it, your lender could penalize you.

When you sign the loan documents, you agree to carry full coverage on the property for as long as there’s a balance on your loan. If you don’t, the lender can add insurance that protects the lender to your contract and raises your loan balance.

How to Add Your New Car

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Adding your new car to the policy that you already have in force is simple.

Some carriers allow you to make the changes yourself by logging into your account online and adding the vehicle to your account. Other carriers require you to bring the car in for an inspection so that the agent can verify it doesn’t have existing damage.

Adding a car can be done by making a call, using the Internet, or visiting your agent. You need to be sure that you have the right information so that you can complete the transaction after one contact.

Here is what you need:

  • The car’s year, make, model, and VIN
  • The purchase date
  • The vehicle’s odometer reading and annual mileage
  • The loss payee clause
  • Coverage limits

It’s best to add your new car to your policy as soon as you possibly can. If you’re not happy with the new rates you’re being quoted, you can start to shop around after you already know that you have protection. To compare rates, use an online quoting tool and see if the rates that you’re paying are competitive or exorbitantly high.

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