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Buying a Car: How Do You Add Insurance If You Buy Over the Weekend?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro May 2014

Even if you're sure that you've considered everything when you're buying a car, it's easy to forget about a few small items. One example is insurance. Sure, you probably know which insurance company you're going with, but how do you add a car to your policy if you're buying it over the weekend? Since many dealers don't let drivers take home a new car without proof of insurance, this minor issue may possibly prevent you from driving home in your brand-new car. Fortunately, we have a few tips to make sure that doesn't happen.

Check Your Policy

Before you start thinking about how to add your new car to your insurance policy, we suggest checking the terms of your current policy. For many drivers, a newly purchased vehicle is automatically covered for a certain number of days before you ever add it to your policy, precisely to account for situations like this.

Before you visit a car dealer, we suggest asking your insurance agent if your policy has such a clause. If he or she tells you that it's OK to buy a new car and add it to the policy later, you may want to get this in writing so you can prove to the dealer that leaving the lot without proof of insurance isn't a problem. If you choose to go this route, however, we strongly suggest that you call your agent as soon as he or she opens his office on the next business day, since many drivers -- and even law enforcement officers -- can be unfamiliar with this rule.

It's also important to note that the dealer may not let you leave with your new car just because your insurance company offers a grace period for adding a new vehicle to your policy. This is especially true if the dealer helped you secure financing, since it's likely that the dealer or the dealer's bank will want to verify insurance rather than trust that you'll add it when your agent's office opens on Monday.

Add It Before You Buy

Yes, it's possible to add a new car to your insurance policy before you sign the papers. Here's how: Call your insurance agent the Friday before you buy the car and provide him or her with all the details. This will include the vehicle identification number (VIN), the purchase price and various other important items, including the policy's effective date. Be sure to set this for the date you buy the car, and you'll be ready to go.

Of course, you'll need to know all these details in order to add the car to your policy, meaning you'll have to be completely set on the exact car you're buying before you call your agent. As a result, we don't recommend using this strategy if you haven't reached an agreement with the dealership, as you don't want to be locked into a certain vehicle before completing negotiations.

Call the Hot Line

There's one last resort for drivers interested in taking home their new car the weekend they buy it. Knowing that many shoppers interested in buying a car do so over the weekend, most insurance companies have hot lines (typically using toll-free phone numbers) that allow you to add a car to your policy over the weekend. The downside: If you call the toll-free number, what do you do about the agent you usually work with?

The good news here is that you can usually call your agent when he or she opens on Monday and explain the situation. Typically, they'll be able to easily access your files, allowing them to transfer the car to your normal insurance policy.

While buying a car can be a stressful process, insurance doesn't have to be. Our tips ensure that you'll always be able to drive home happy -- and fully insured -- in your new car, even if you buy it on a weekend.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
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Buying a Car: How Do You Add Insurance If You Buy Over the Weekend? - Autotrader