Car insurance for a car you haven't bought yet?
October 11, 2019 6:50 AM   Subscribe

Hello I am an adult. I am planning to buy a car from a dealership for the first time in my life (a used car.) I currently have zero cars. How do I legally drive the car home? Do I get insurance before I have the car? I don't know when I'm buying the car. So I need to pay for insurance for a car I don't have yet and may not have for a few weeks? I am confused, help me.
posted by Automocar to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
With the insurance companies I have worked with, you call them from the car dealership and they will get you set up with a policy over the phone. The car dealer ought to be able to print out the proof of insurance for you.
posted by exogenous at 6:56 AM on October 11, 2019 [6 favorites]

This was my first ever Ask MetaFilter question.
posted by mbrubeck at 6:56 AM on October 11, 2019 [4 favorites]

Yeah, this is annoying. You need the VIN from the car you're going to buy, then you contact your insurance agent, tell them you're buying a car and give them the make, model, VIN and anything else they ask for. Then they'll email or fax you your insurance card, which you'll need to show the dealer before you can drive off the lot.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:57 AM on October 11, 2019 [3 favorites]

You can talk to an insurance agent in advance and give them general parameters of what you are planning to buy so you have an idea of what the cost will be and they have all your info except the car specifics. That will expedite the process.
posted by leslies at 7:00 AM on October 11, 2019 [4 favorites]

You can also sign up online on your phone with Geico or something - even if they wouldn't be your first choice, it's generally pretty easy to cancel a policy and sign up somewhere else.
posted by mskyle at 7:02 AM on October 11, 2019

I got insurance while at the dealership.

But now with all the online tools, if you know what car you're looking at you can get a bunch of online quotes to find the best rate ahead of time. Or compare a few different models to see if there's a big difference in insurance rates on them.
posted by DoubleLune at 7:07 AM on October 11, 2019

The guy who just bought our used car called his insurance agent ahead of time and gave them the VIN (we provided it) and then when it was officially sold he called them and they activated the insurance. I’m not sure if he had the card on him driving home but he was covered.
posted by PussKillian at 7:15 AM on October 11, 2019

Just to emphasize something that you probably know, in case you don’t: regardless of whether the dealer lets you take the car or not, do not drive the car at all before you have insurance once you own the vehicle. Because at that point you are on the hook for any damage caused to anyone or anything. Everyone else covered the “how do I get insurance” part quite well.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 9:03 AM on October 11, 2019

The dealer will take care of everything for you: insurance, a runner to get the registration from the RMV, etc. And they'll tack on ~$100 to the final bill, as a "runner's" fee. They will tack on this fee regardless of whether you actually use it or not, so take advantage and get them to do all the paperwork.
posted by Melismata at 9:23 AM on October 11, 2019

Like other people, I called from the dealership. I'd gotten quotes online ahead of time, as I knew what type of car I was intending to buy. It was a weekend and that wasn't a problem.

You generally get a discount for paying for six months or a year up front. I had to ask for this, though, as they defaulted to a monthly payment. (I want to say my mom or Metafilter had told me to expect to pay for six months of insurance and that was not the default setting.)
posted by hoyland at 4:12 PM on October 11, 2019

I talked to my (State Farm) agent in advance, told him the general parameters of what I was looking at, and he had the policy all set to go as soon as I gave him the VIN and so on. I think I took a picture of the info I needed to relay and e-mailed to him, then called the office to say I'd done that. Like five minutes later they sent back proof of insurance. This is super-normal. I'd talk to whoever carries your rental/homeowner's insurance first, if they also do vehicles, because you'll get a discount for carrying multiple policies with them, but if not, just decide who you want to do car insurance with and call them. This is SUPER normal.

You can also totally do it via the dealer, who has also done it a million times, but I've always been happy with my insurance carrier so I just do it through them because they know me and make it easy.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:51 PM on October 11, 2019

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