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Managing Your Car Insurance When Moving

Bankrate logo Bankrate 7/27/2021 Lizzie Nealon
a person holding a baby: A man and woman play with their small child after a hard day of moving boxes into a new home. © Blend Images - LWA/Dann Tardif/Getty Images A man and woman play with their small child after a hard day of moving boxes into a new home.

An average of 40 million Americans pack up their belongings and move every year. Although car insurance might not be the first thing on your mind during a move, updating your policy should be on your to-do list. Although moving can feel daunting, updating your auto insurance policy does not have to add to your stress. Bankrate's insurance editorial team explains how to update your auto insurance information in a few simple steps.

Do you have to change car insurance when you move?

Any time you move, you will have to update your car insurance policy. Even if you move within your current state or within your current ZIP code, you must contact your auto insurance provider and update your address. Car insurers set rates based on risk, and the risk of insuring your vehicle can change when you move to a new home.

If you are moving to a new state, updating your auto insurance is critical. Car insurance requirements vary by state, so moving across state lines means that you need to comply with your new state's laws. Your current car insurance company might sell policies in your new state, but you will still need a new policy. And if your current insurer is not licensed to write policies in your new state, you will need to go through the process of switching carriers to a car insurance company licensed to operate in your new area.

When should you switch your car insurance while moving?

Managing car insurance while moving is vital, and you only have a finite period of time in which to do it.

Most states have regulations in place that require you to switch over your license and registration within one to three months of setting up residency, which means also updating your insurance to meet local requirements. Specific requirements in your new place of residence can be found by checking with your state's Department of Motor Vehicles.

Your insurance company may require you to update your address even sooner. Ask your insurer about its specific guidelines.

Do I need new insurance before I register my car in a new state?

Most states require you to have proof of insurance before registering your vehicle in your new state. That means you should start shopping for a new car insurance policy as soon as possible after moving into your new place. You only have between one and three months to register your vehicle, so make sure you give yourself enough time to compare providers and choose a policy.

How do you switch your car insurance after moving?

These steps could help you to seamlessly switch your car insurance when you move:

  1. Get quotes from multiple insurers. Even if your current insurance company can provide coverage in your new state, there is no guarantee that it will offer the best rates, even if it was the cheapest at your old address. If you are moving within your current state, you may still want to explore multiple insurers. Carrier premiums can vary in different regions of the same state.
  2. Understand your company's cancellation terms. Although it is not common, some companies impose a termination fee if you cancel your policy prior to the end of your term. However, insurance agents do not advise waiting to change your policy to your new state just to avoid the cancellation fee. Getting your policy in your new state to satisfy your state's laws is critical to your financial health.
  3. Confirm your policy's start date. You want to make sure you do not have any lapses in coverage between policies; not only is this against the law in states that require car insurance coverage, but it also exposes you to a great deal of risk. Make sure your new policy begins on the date that you cancel your old one to avoid a lapse or overlap of coverage.
  4. Cancel your old insurance policy. Keep in mind that some insurers require written notice of cancellation, so check that you are not double billed for insurance after your new policy kicks in.

You may want to check if your state or insurance provider has additional requirements.

Does moving affect your car insurance rate?

Yes, moving can affect your car insurance rate - even within the same city. Auto insurers in most states (though notably, not California) use your ZIP code, along with other factors, to determine car insurance rates. Factors such as population density, accident frequency, crime rates and vehicle theft frequency can all change between ZIP codes, and those factors can affect insurance rates.

The average cost of car insurance per year varies significantly among states. Cities in the same state often have vastly different rates as well. Because car insurance rates are determined by factors such as population density and crime in a certain region, two cities in the same state often have vastly different average premiums.

Keep in mind that if car insurance is costly in your ZIP code, there might still be ways to save on your premium. Many of the best car insurance providers offer discounts that could help you lower your premium. You may want to find out which of these deals apply to you when researching companies.

What other things should you consider after moving?

Updating your auto insurance is not the only thing you need to do to drive legally in your new state. You should also:

  • Transfer your driver's license. You may only need to present your current license along with additional forms of identification and proof of address to update your driver's license to your new state. However, in some states, you may also need to take a written exam and/or pass a vision test. Check with your local DMV for more details.
  • Update your registration. While you are at the DMV getting a new license, you can also register your car in your new state. You will need to show proof of updated insurance to do so.
  • Get in-state license plates. Once you have registered your car, the DMV will mail you your new license plates. Promptly attach them to your car and check with the DMV on how to dispose of your old ones.

Every state is different, so working with your local DMV after your move will help you ensure you have completed the steps necessary to legally drive in your new state.

Frequently asked questions

How can I save money when finding a new car insurance provider?

Providers offer different prices based on ZIP code, so after moving, you may want to get quotes from the top carriers in your area and compare them. You may also want to look into which discounts apply to you. In addition to safe driver discounts, many providers offer deals for teachers, students and military members. If you are also shopping for homeowners insurance, many providers will give you a discount on both policies if you bundle.

Should I stay with my current car insurance provider when I move?

Whether or not you should stay with your current provider will vary from driver to driver. Car insurance carriers offer different rates across ZIP codes, so your current provider may cost more or less after your move, even within the same city. If you move across state lines, your move may present a good opportunity to get quotes from other companies, even if your current carrier writes policies in your new state.

Can I switch to a new car insurance provider while I have an open claim with my existing carrier?

Some companies will allow you to switch carriers while you have an open claim, but there may be payout issues along the way. In addition, your new provider may not be able to accept your business if you have an open claim with another company. This is because until a claim is closed, a company does not know how much the final payout was, which means the new company cannot rate your policy accurately. If you have an open claim, you may want to check with your company before switching to a new provider.

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