Is my newly purchased vehicle covered?

man and woman looking at new carQ. Is my newly purchased vehicle covered?

A. In my time as an insurance agent I've noticed an uptick in customers buying cars when the warm weather arrives each year. The beautiful Northwest sun has shown itself the past couple weeks and, as expected, I've fielded this question several times from customers planning to shop for cars. Whether you buy a brand new car fresh off the assembly line or a secondhand car, it's important to know how your insurance applies during that gap between signing the deal and formally adding the car to your policy. Here's the lowdown to ensure you're protected.

First, your policy may provide some level of automatic coverage if you buy the following:

  • a private passenger automobile with no fewer than four wheels

  • a pickup truck or van with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of no more than 10,000 pounds

  • a self-propelled motorhome equipped as living quarters.

If your new car doesn't fall into any of those categories, it won't have any automatic coverage, so please talk with your agent or Customer Service before it's driven.

However, if the new car meets those criteria, the next thing to consider is the type of coverage that's being automatically provided.

If the car directly replaces another car on your policy, such as when you trade in a vehicle at the dealership, it will have the same coverage as the car it's replacing. Ask yourself this question: "Is the coverage I carried on my trade-in the same coverage I'd want for my new car?" If so, then you may drive the new car home before adding it. However, if you carry less insurance coverage on the trade-in than you'd want for your new car, it's very important you add the car to your policy before driving it.

If the new car will not directly replace another, it's an additional vehicle, and in this case there are a couple more factors to consider. First, for coverage of any kind to automatically apply, PEMCO must insure all other vehicles you already own. Second, the coverage that applies will be the broadest coverage found under your policy. Ask yourself this question: "Is the coverage I carry on my best-covered vehicle the same coverage I'd want for my new car?" If so, then you can drive it home before adding it. Again, if the answer to that question is "no," then you'll need to add the car before you drive it.

Whether you replace a car or buy an additional car, automatic coverage that's provided under these circumstances is limited either to 30 days or the policy's renewal, whichever comes sooner. Replacement cars may have a longer period of automatic coverage than an additional auto in some circumstances, but I suggest you call us to add the car rather than wait.

If you have the new vehicle's information before signing the deal, you can even call us beforehand to add the car! That's always the safest option because it allows for a thorough discussion about the vehicle and your coverage needs.

I understand that when buying a car, the sequence of events and timing aren't always predictable. In those cases, you can use this information as a guide to provide you with peace of mind as you drive it home. Happy car hunting!

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