Moving to a new state can be stressful, but one thing you don’t want to overlook is your car insurance. Each state has its own car insurance requirements and laws, so it’s important to know if you have the right coverage to help you stay legal and protected on the road.
Does car insurance change by state?
Each state sets its own minimum coverage limits for liability coverages, but that isn’t the only variable that can change from state to state.
Some states require drivers to carry personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, a type of insurance that helps pay for medical expenses or lost wages if you and/or a passenger are injured in a car accident, regardless of who was at fault. Other states require uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage, which can help pay for your injuries or property damage if you’ve involved in an accident where the at-fault driver doesn’t have enough car insurance to cover the costs.
These variables are a key reason why it’s always best to contact your insurance provider to help determine the coverages and limits that make sense for you.
State car insurance requirements
Before you start shopping for car insurance in your new state, get to know the state’s auto insurance requirements. Limits for the following types of coverages vary from one state to the next:
Bodily injury liability
This coverage helps pay for another party’s medical expenses and lost wages due to an accident you’re at fault for. While nearly every state requires bodily injury liability insurance, each state sets its own legal minimum. You should already have bodily injury liability in your current state—just know it might not meet the minimum required amount for your new state.
Property damage liability
This can cover the cost of property damage from an accident you cause. That includes repairs to another driver’s car, but it can also include repairs to property such as a storefront, road sign, and fence, as well as damage to public property like medians and bridges.
Just like bodily injury liability, property damage liability is required in nearly every state.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
Your bodily injury liability helps pay for another person’s medical costs if you’re at fault in an accident. But what if you’re the injured person?
In your new state, the other driver likely needs liability insurance, just like you. But unfortunately, millions of American drivers are uninsured or underinsured, leaving you vulnerable to paying for your own injuries even if you weren’t at fault.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage helps pay for your medical expenses and lost wages if you’re hit by a driver who doesn’t have auto insurance—or not enough insurance to cover the post-accident costs.
Personal injury protection (PIP)
This coverage helps pay for medical expenses and lost wages for both you and your passengers if you’re injured in a car accident—regardless of who is at fault. Even if your state doesn’t require it, PIP can be a great supplemental coverage to go along with your liability coverage.
How to purchase car insurance when moving to a new state
As you know, there’s a lot to consider—and a lot of to-do lists to juggle—when moving to a new state. Here are the steps you’ll need to take to switch car insurance in your new state:
Let your insurance company know you’re moving
If your current insurance provider is licensed to sell insurance in your new state, they may be able to help you switch to a new policy. If not, they may be able to recommend a carrier in your new state.
Compare car insurance quotes
Just like you did when purchasing your current policy, it’s a good idea to shop around for car insurance quotes to make sure you get the best value. The best way to compare is to get quotes online or contact insurance agents in your new state for quotes.
Purchase a new car insurance policy
Once you’ve found and bought a policy that meets your requirements—and your budget—make sure you have valid proof of insurance before you hit the road. Your insurance provider will likely send you an ID card, and many companies make digital versions available as well.
Cancel your old car insurance
Contact your insurance provider to cancel your old car insurance policy. Just be sure to purchase a new policy before canceling the old one so you can avoid lapses in car insurance coverage.
Get a new driver’s license
Your insurance isn’t the only thing that’s different in a new state. You’ll need to get a new driver’s license within a certain timeframe, usually 30 or 90 days after moving. Check with your state’s Department of Transportation (DOT) to verify the timing requirements for your new license.
Update your vehicle’s registration
Along with your new insurance and driver’s license, you’ll need to update your vehicle’s registration to get new license plates in your state.
How long do I have to switch car insurance in a new state?
Short answer? The sooner the better!
The longer answer is that each state has its own requirements. Typically, states require drivers to insure their vehicles within 30 to 90 days, but it’s best to start the process as soon as you can.
Don’t cancel your old car insurance early
While you don’t want to pay for two overlapping policies, don’t cancel your old insurance too early. Here’s why:
Lapses in car insurance
A lapse in coverage is a period where you don’t have car insurance. If you cancel your old policy before having a new policy in place, you’ll be driving without insurance, which is illegal in nearly all states. Driving without insurance can result in fines, license suspension, and vehicle impounds.
The risks of driving without insurance
While lapses can be expensive and inconvenient, they’re also dangerous. Accidents can happen at any time, and you can be held personally liable for any damages, medical expenses, or loss of income resulting from an accident you cause. To avoid a financial burden of that magnitude, be sure you have car insurance to help protect yourself.