A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products, including home, life, auto, and commercial, and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, mainly in the insuranc...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers Insurance CSR 4 Years

UPDATED: Oct 19, 2021

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Gather all pertinent information on your vehicle including: year, make, model, sub-model, VIN number, odometer reading, and lease or Leinholder details.
  • Contact your insurer as soon as possible. Do not wait for an updated title to add the car to your policy.
  • Make sure the coverage on your new car is sufficient. The liability limits and deductibles you had previously may not be appropriate.
  • Try to get an ID card the same day your policy is updated. This will ensure you have proof of insurance in the event of a traffic stop

Over fifteen million vehicles are purchased every year in the United States, and each one has to be insured. But when is the best time to add a new car to your policy? Do you wait until the policy renews or your updated title arrives in the mail? Every situation is different, but the steps to add a vehicle do not vary by much. Compare car insurance rates now by using our FREE tool above!

Ways to Add a Car to Your Policy

When it’s time to add a new car to their insurance, the first thing most policyholders do is contact their agent. Whether it is by phone or in person, your agent will take all of the necessary information, amend your policy, and give or send you a new ID card.

The ability to have an ID card in hand immediately is the biggest advantage your agent can offer.

However, if you do not need or want an ID Card immediately, you may instead prefer to update your policy online on your customer portal. You will still need to input all of the same information for the new vehicle as your agent would have requested, but this method can sometimes take longer. In order to ensure that all of the information is correct, some companies will send your policy changes to underwriting or to your agency to verify first. Because of this, it could be several days or weeks before you receive an ID card.

Although you might be tempted to take the truly hands-off route, mailing your information to the agency is not a good idea since your letter could get lost in transit. Whenever you make major changes to your policy, you should always get an immediate confirmation that everything was processed accurately and in a timely manner.

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How Long Should You Wait to Add Your New Car?

Many insurers will give you several weeks or up to a month of coverage before a vehicle must be listed on your policy. However, an accident could occur at any time, so it is best to add the vehicle to your car insurance as soon as possible.

Most of the time, it is not necessary to wait until the new title arrives in the mail before you can add the car to your policy.

In fact, if you are buying from a dealership, you may be able to get coverage before you even drive off the lot. While completing paperwork on your new purchase, your dealer will most likely call your insurance agent to verify that you have an existing auto policy. At this point, you can request to speak with your agent directly, and then add the vehicle to your policy.

Information Needed to Update Your Policy

Before you call your agent or log onto your insurance company’s website to add your new car, you are going to need to get some information together.

  • Year- If you purchased your car from an individual, they may not give you the correct age of the vehicle. Check your paperwork to make sure you have accurate information.
  • Make- Remember, this is the manufacturer’s name, not the vehicle’s name (i.e. Dodge, Ford, Cadillac, etc.).
  • Model- Sometimes this information can be found on the exterior of the vehicle itself, but not always. Again, refer to your paperwork or title to find the correct model name.
  • Sub-Model- Usually the sub-model will be two or three letters long, such as LX, LS, etc. It may seem insignificant, but since different sub-models tend to come with different features, it could make a big impact on your premium.
  • VIN Number- There are multiple locations where your vehicle’s sixteen digit VIN number can be found. Look inside your driver’s side door for a VIN number sticker, or check at the bottom of your windshield on the driver’s side for a metal strip stamped with your VIN. This is one piece of information that is not best obtained from paperwork since typos are easy to make.
  • Odometer Reading- Many insurers require this information when adding a new car, so it is good to have on hand, just in case.
  • Safety Features- Discounts for safe vehicles are not just limited to those with alarm systems. Be sure to tell your agent about any safety features your vehicle has to maximize your savings.
  • Special Add-ons- If any add-ons are not standard for your vehicle’s sub-model, make sure they’re noted on your policy so you have adequate coverage.
  • Leinholder or Lease Information- When you finance or lease your vehicle, the financing or leasing company usually likes to be listed on your policy so they can be notified about lapses in coverage.
  • Existing Damage- In order to prevent future claims on pre-existing damage, your agent may ask if your new car has any existing dents or scratches.
  • Purchase Price- If you bought a brand new vehicle, you may need to provide your insurer with the purchase price. For vehicles more than three years old, this information is not usually required.

Selecting Coverage for Your Automobile

When you buy a new car, it is not always appropriate to continue to carry the same coverage on all of your vehicles. First, make sure that you have sufficient coverage to satisfy your Lienholder or leasing company. There may be limits placed on deductibles and minimum requirements for liability coverage, so make sure that you are insured accordingly.

Next, consider whether your previous policy limits are suitable for your new vehicle. If you upgraded from a small compact to a large SUV, it might be a good idea to increase your liability limits since a larger vehicle is generally capable of causing more damage than a small car.

Consider how your deductibles affect your updated premium, because although you might prefer a lower deductible, it may be necessary to raise your deductibles to offset the premium increase caused by adding a new vehicle.

Some policyholders choose this time to shop for a new insurance company. If you are not satisfied with the premium your current insurer gives you after adding a new vehicle, it might be time to shop around. With all of your new car’s information on hand, it is especially easy to use an online comparison tool to find a new insurer. Enter your zip code in our FREE tool below to compare car insurance rates now!