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Getting a new car can be an exciting time for a household, especially if it is the first car for a newly-licensed young driver. But how do you go about adding a car to your policy? Are there other options you should consider, such as separate policies for each car? Most insurance companies allow you to have multiple cars on your policy, and in fact may offer a significant discount if you insure multiple cars with them. It’s also possible, however, to insure your cars separately, and that may make better sense for your situation. Bankrate’s insurance editorial team dives deeper into adding a car to your auto insurance policy and what you might want to consider before you decide what to do.
How to add another car to your insurance policy
You can add a car to your existing insurance policy in two ways: by contacting your agent or insurance company or by adding it yourself through your company’s online portal or mobile app (if your company has these electronic options).
If you prefer your agent or company to add the vehicle for you, you may be able to give them a call or stop into the office with your vehicle information and tell them the changes you’d like to make to your policy.
If you’d like to add the vehicle yourself online, log into your policy via your company’s online portal or mobile app and follow the steps provided. However, note that not all companies have online policy management capabilities. If your company doesn’t give you the option to make changes to your policy online, you will need to contact them to add the vehicle.
Whether you have your agent add your car to the policy or if you do it yourself, most insurance companies will provide you with proof of insurance shortly after the transaction, typically by emailing you an ID card.
What information do I need to add a car?
There is some basic information that you’ll need to give your insurance company to add a car to your policy, including:
- Vehicle identification number (VIN): You can find your VIN on the vehicle’s title or window sticker. If these aren’t available, look for it in the lower left-hand corner of your windshield or on the inside of your door.
- Registered owner’s information: If you register the vehicle in anyone’s name other than your own, you will likely need to add that driver to your policy, too.
- Vehicle safety features: Most of the time, your vehicle’s safety features will populate based on your VIN. Occasionally, however, your agent may ask you for detailed information about the type of anti-theft system your vehicle, which may lead to additional discount opportunities.
- Type of coverage: You will need to tell your insurance company what types and levels of coverage you’d like your new vehicle to carry.
- Usage information: Your insurance company will ask you how you plan on driving your vehicle. For instance, they may want to know if you are commuting and how many miles round trip it takes you to get to work. They may also ask for your current odometer reading. Some insurers offer discounts for low-mileage drivers, which might save you money if you work from home or are retired.
- Lienholder or leasing company information: If you are financing or leasing your car, your insurance company will need your lender’s information to send them proof that your vehicle is covered.
Why should I add another car to my insurance policy?
Because most insurance companies offer a hefty multi-car discount, multi-car insurance policies are usually cheaper than insuring multiple vehicles on separate policies. There are times, however, when you might be unable to add another car to your policy. This is likely the case if you own more vehicles than the average person, as most companies have a limit to how many cars you can list on one policy. However, this limit generally varies by company.
Although you may qualify to get a multi-car discount for adding a vehicle to your existing policy, it’s important to consider the pros and cons when comparing multi-car and single-car policies. There are times when separate policies may work better, such as when you would like to spread your policy payments out over the month or when you’d like different coverage levels for each car.
|Multi-car policy||The more cars you add, the more you may save through multi-car discounts
Easier to manage all in one place
Pay one bill covering all vehicles on the policy
|The premium for all your vehicles will be due at the same time
You normally have to carry the same liability limits for all vehicles listed on the same policy
|Separate policies||Get separate bills and different payment dates
You can select different coverage for each vehicle
|May be more expensive to insure each vehicle separately
You will need to manage separate bills and due dates
Some insurance companies may not give you an option when it comes to insuring your vehicles on one policy or separate ones. If you are unsure of how to cover your additional vehicle, call your company or agent to discuss your options.
Does adding a car to my policy affect my rate?
Although you may qualify for a multi-car discount by adding a second vehicle to your policy, your overall car insurance rate will likely still increase. Multi-car discounts are among some of the most significant discounts offered to drivers by car insurance companies, but they’re typically not enough to negate the total premium your insurance company will charge to add a vehicle to your policy.
To ensure you get the best rate possible, most insurance professionals recommend that you shop around and compare quotes after certain life events, like buying a new car.
How to choose coverage types and limits when adding a car
The average cost of car insurance in the United States is $622 per year for minimum coverage and $2,014 per year for full coverage. Minimum coverage may be cheaper, but purchasing higher limits and full coverage has its benefits.
Minimum coverage is just what it sounds like: the minimum insurance required by your state to drive legally. Many insurance experts, however, would recommend that you purchase more than the minimum. Higher liability levels, for example, will give you fuller protection in an expensive accident if you are determined to be at fault.
It’s also worth considering optional coverages such as collision and comprehensive insurance, which cover damages to your own car. Liability doesn’t do that in an at-fault accident. Other optional insurance types include gap insurance, emergency road service and rental reimbursement—you will need to decide if these are worth the cost when you purchase your policy.
Frequently asked questions
There are a number of insurers writing solid insurance policies for an affordable rate in the U.S. To find them, you might want to start by checking Bankrate’s list of the Cheapest Car Insurance Companies. Choose a handful of companies and ask for quotes from each for the same coverage types and levels. Quotes are usually free, and most insurers offer them if you answer a few questions on the website. Based on the prices you receive, you can choose the one that is the best rate for your circumstances.
The average rate for car insurance varies from state to state. Keep in mind, however, that your own policy costs are likely to be different from the averages. Multiple factors, such as your car’s make and model, your location and even your age and gender in some states, can impact your rate. One of the most important factors is your driving ability. Drivers with no marks on their motor vehicle record tend to be given preferential rates when they apply for coverage.
Most states require you to have insurance in place before you can register your new vehicle. If you are financing or leasing your vehicle, you may also be required to show proof of insurance before driving your car out of the dealership. Luckily, most insurance companies can add a new vehicle to your policy the same day you purchase it. You can also opt to notify your current insurance company ahead of time that you plan on buying a car. Your company will then ask for your vehicle details and the date you plan on finalizing your purchase. By doing this, your company can schedule your vehicle to be added with the policy effective on the purchase date. This process is known as a future-dated endorsement.