How to Transfer Auto Insurance from Your Old Car to Your New Car

By Jessica Bosari
After 13 years in personal and commercial insurance, Jessica Bosari now writes about personal finance, car insurance, risk management and related topics. Since 2008, she has been simplifying complex ideas through engaging articles for her readers.

How to Transfer Auto Insurance from Your Old Car to Your New Car Congratulations, you’re getting a new car! Well, at least new to you. Either way, you’ll have to transfer your insurance over to it. But not to worry. It’s not that hard and only takes a few minutes. In some cases, you don’t have to do a thing except authorize the dealership to get things going for you.

Buying from a Dealer

You can usually have the dealer take care of the transfer of ownership, registration, the insurance binder and vehicle inspection before you take delivery of the car. Otherwise, you need to worry about time limits imposed by your state for transferring title and registration or getting car insurance. You’ll also have a time limit on getting a vehicle inspection.

Time Limits for Transferring a Car Registration

If you bought one car to replace another, you’ll likely want to transfer your old registration to the new vehicle rather than get a new registration. Your state law has time limits on transferring title and registration. This time limit can range from just two days up to 60.

Time Limits for Transferring Car Insurance

Insurance policies cover new cars for up to 30 days after purchase, but that doesn’t mean your state law gives you that much time. For instance, Pennsylvania only gives you 14 days to get insurance. Before the 30 days are up, you need to ask the insurance company to add the car to your policy and pay any difference in premium required to have it take effect. If it’s a newer car, you might even get a premium credit, depending on what coverage you had on your older car. That’s because newer cars often qualify you for a discount or lower rate. The easiest thing to do is call your agent or insurance company to get the details and instructions. You can transfer title even if you don’t plan to put the car on the road right away. You simply take the title, which has been endorsed on the back by the seller, and bring it to the department of motor vehicles or other agency designated by your state. You will likely have to pay vehicle sales tax and a title transfer fee at the time you submit the official paperwork. But if you will be driving the car, you usually need to get a binder from your car insurance company before you can register it. Simply call your car insurance company and let them know what’s going on. They can walk you through the process of obtaining your new title and plates. Insurance agents and customer service centers are very familiar with the vehicle registration laws and process in your state.

Vehicle Inspections

In most states, you’ll also need to a get a vehicle inspection within a certain number of days after you transfer title or registration. This inspection is designed to ensure the car is safe to drive on the roads and that it meets any state emissions laws. Usually, you have to have the car inspected every year to keep it on the road. Your insurance company may also demand its own car inspection, especially on used cars or those that were previously totaled in a car accident.

Transfer Your Registration in Time

It’s important to transfer your registration within the time limits allowed. Missing the deadline usually results in fees from your state’s department of motor vehicles. They charge late fees because they can’t collect excise tax on the car until they know who the rightful owner is. They also lose out on title transfer fees until you take care of the paperwork. So get in there as soon as you can to take care of this important paperwork.