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How long do I have until I must get insurance?

If you already have car insurance for your current vehicle, your existing policy will cover your new car temporarily. You don't have to inform your insurance company before you buy a car, but you shouldn't put it off for long after your purchase. In most cases you have 14 to 30 days to tell your car insurance company that you purchased a new vehicle.

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It's critical you inform your insurer about the new car during the grace period, or you could end up driving without insurance. Beware, too, that if you purchased only liability coverage for your old car, that's all you'll have on your new car during the grace period. Liability coverage pays for damage to other cars if you cause an accident, but it doesn't pay for repairs of your own vehicle. You need collision and comprehensive coverage to protect your new car. Collision covers damage to your car if you're in an accident, and comprehensive kicks in for losses caused by something other than a traffic accident, such as a natural disaster, vandalism or theft. If you financed your car, the bank probably insisted on collision and comprehensive coverage to approve the loan.

It's a good idea to get car insurance quotes to find the best coverage for your vehicle -- just make sure you finish shopping around before the grace period is up on your current coverage.

To learn more, read about auto(matic) coverage for new cars.

Last updated: Oct. 30, 2010 Redesign Survey