How many days do you have to get auto insurance?

If you already have auto insurance on another car, you probably have some wiggle room as far as getting coverage on a new car. However, it's best to know if you'll have a grace period if you've just purchased a new vehicle.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

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, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: Jun 13, 2022

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Things to remember

  • If you already have auto insurance, you will have seven to 30 days to add your new car to your existing policy
  • The new car will be covered by your existing policy for a maximum of 30 days
  • If you are replacing your car, your existing policy will cover your new car for the duration of the policy

Getting auto insurance is extremely important for your financial health, as well as a legal requirement in most states. How many days do you have to get insurance for your new car? Should you buy it before getting the new car or afterward? If you have another car, do you simply add the new car to your existing policy or will it be automatically covered? Read on to learn more. 

How many days do you have to insure a new car?

Depending on the state you reside in and your insurance company’s rules, you will have a grace period of seven to 30 days to inform your insurance provider of your new car purchase. It acts the same way as a grace period for car insurance payments, meaning there are factors that will decide the amount of time and if it’s even a possibility. 

If you are purchasing a new car from a dealership, you will need proof of insurance to drive the car out of their lot. You will not get possession of your car if you do not have insurance. 

If you are buying your first car, you can purchase a policy from the dealership. If you already have insurance on another car, you can simply show your insurance card and drive the car home. From there and depending upon where you live — you will have between seven to 30 days to add your new car to your existing policy. 

If you fail to notify your insurer in the given window, your car will not have coverage. 

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Will a new car be covered by the current policy? 

Your new car will be covered by your existing policy for a maximum of 30 days. The exact duration will depend on the state you live in and the insurance company. However, it is important to note that this is not free coverage. 

If you don’t report the purchase to your insurance company, you will not have been covered that whole time, and any claim that happens during that time can be denied. Coverage will be backdated and you will be charged from the date you bought the car, so waiting gains you nothing. 

You will have a window of seven to 30 days to insure your new car on its own policy.

Trading Your Car

When you trade your old car for a new one, your new car will have the exact same amount of coverage as the existing policy. 

If you trade in a car, you can simply replace the old one with the new one on your policy. However, if you fail to report the replacement vehicle, the insurance company will not necessarily cover any claims. Failing to provide this updated information can be considered fraud, as you were potentially not paying the correct rate for that new car’s coverage. 

How to Get Auto Insurance Quickly

If you don’t have insurance, you must buy it before you can drive the new car. Research is a must here. If you buy insurance at the dealership, you may end up paying more for it. To get the best price on auto insurance, decide on a car make and model and then compare quotes from multiple insurers. Finding cheap auto insurance quotes can easily be done online nowadays. You can then decide on a company that is offering the best price. 

These are the documents you will need: 

  • Drivers’ names and birthdays
  • Address for the drivers (only drivers living at the same address can be on the same policy) 
  • Drivers’ license and Social Security numbers

If you have done your research and keep these documents ready, you can get the car insurance policy on the same day

We’ve compiled a list in the table below of each state’s minimum liability coverage requirements, in partnership with the Insurance Information Institute.

Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements by State
StateInsurance required Minimum liability limits
ALBI & PD Liab25/50/25
AKBI & PD Liab50/100/25
AZBI & PD Liab15/30/10
ARBI & PD Liab, PIP25/50/25
CABI & PD Liab15/30/5
COBI & PD Liab25/50/15
CTBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/20
DEBI & PD Liab, PIP25/50/10
DCBI & PD Liab, UM25/50/10
FLPD Liab, PIP10/20/10
GABI & PD Liab25/50/25
HIBI & PD Liab, PIP20/40/10
IDBI & PD Liab25/50/15
ILBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/20
INBI & PD Liab25/50/25
IABI & PD Liab20/40/15
KSBI & PD Liab, PIP25/50/25
KYBI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM25/50/25
LABI & PD Liab15/30/25
MEBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM, Medpay50/100/25
MDBI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM30/60/15
MABI & PD Liab, PIP20/40/5
MIBI & PD Liab, PIP20/40/10
MNBI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM30/60/10
MSBI & PD Liab25/50/25
MOBI & PD Liab, UM25/50/25
MTBI & PD Liab25/50/20
NEBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/25
NVBI & PD Liab25/50/20
NHFR only25/50/25
NJBI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM15/30/5
NMBI & PD Liab25/50/10
NYBI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM25/50/10
NCBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM30/60/25
NDBI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM25/50/25
OHBI & PD Liab25/50/25
OKBI & PD Liab25/50/25
ORBI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM25/50/20
PABI & PD Liab, PIP15/30/5
RIBI & PD Liab25/50/25
SCBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/25
SDBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/25
TNBI & PD Liab25/50/15
TXBI & PD Liab, PIP30/60/25
UTBI & PD Liab, PIP25/65/15
VTBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/10
VABI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/20
WABI & PD Liab25/50/10
WVBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/25
WIBI & PD Liab, UM, Medpay25/50/10
WYBI & PD Liab25/50/20
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For reference:

  • BI – Bodily injury
  • PD Liab – Property damage liability
  • UM/UIM – Uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist
  • Medpay – Medical payments

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Final Thoughts on the Timeline for Getting Car Insurance

If this is your first car, the dealership will not let you drive it off their lot without an insurance policy. Therefore, your best bet is to compare insurance quotes before you buy the car in order to get the best price. 

If you already have a car with auto insurance, you can show your insurance card when you buy the new one. You will then have a seven-to-30-day window to inform your insurer of your purchase, and they will cover your new car during this period. If you fail to inform them, you will lose coverage and the lack of coverage will be backdated. 

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Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap auto insurance rates.

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