Moving to a New State? Here's How to Transfer Your Car Insurance and Registration

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Moving to a new state is both stressful and exciting. Your life is packed away in small boxes, one pile for the thrift store, one for the moving truck. You look forward to a new job, relationships, and a change of scenery. However, you also have to deal with all of the frustrations of changing homes. Utility accounts must be set up. You have to stock the fridge. Your child is wailing because you haven't unpacked their lunchbox. And aside from all of the day-to-day tasks you need to take care of, you have to comply with legal requirements, such as transferring your car insurance policy.

If you're in the process of moving to a new state, you've got enough to worry about already. That's why we outlined the four steps you need to follow to change your car insurance policy and register your vehicle in a new state.

Step 1: Finish your move

With all of the work that goes into moving, it would be difficult for you to obtain new auto insurance and registration immediately upon changing states. That's why states offer a grace period to obtain new license, registration and insurance documentation for your vehicle. If you need to, take the first week after you move to settle in and take care of the pressing details of your transition before worrying about car insurance.

The number of days you have to obtain new driving-related documentation will vary depending on the state you're moving to, so you should consult your new state's DMV website to procure that information. However, you'll typically be required to transition your license, registration and auto insurance within 30 to 90 days of your move. Failure to complete these tasks within this period may result in fines and further delay the process.

However, the most important thing to remember is that you should not cancel your old auto insurance policy before setting up a new one. It is illegal to drive without coverage, and if you're involved in a collision, the legal and financial ramifications could be disastrous. Keep your current auto insurance policy for now and take care of the most pressing needs of your move.

Step 2: Purchase a new auto insurance policy

Once you've taken a few days to settle into your new home, you should begin the process of transferring your vehicle's insurance and registration documentation to your new state. Most states require you to provide proof of insurance before you're able to register your vehicle, so changing your auto insurance policy should be your first step.

You may be able to stay with the same insurer

If your current insurance company provides coverage in your new state, you may be able to stay with that insurer. Doing so would simplify the process for you and preserve any loyalty discounts you're on track to receiving. However, keep in mind that even if you stay with your current insurer, your policy rates and coverage may change to reflect the risks inherent to your new neighborhood and the minimum insurance required by your new state. This is especially true for drivers who are moving from a fault-based state to a no-fault state, such as Pennsylvania. In no-fault states, PIP insurance and additional forms of coverage may be required; so your new premiums may be higher than they were previously. Call your insurance agent and ask if they provide coverage in your new state, and ask for a quote of what your new rates and coverage would be.

Shop around to get the best rates

In addition to getting a quote from your current insurance company, we recommend gathering quotes from two to three additional insurers in order to compare rates. Just because one insurance company gave you great rates in your old state does not mean they'll be the cheapest insurer in your new one. For example, if you carried a GEICO policy in New Mexico and you're moving to Texas, you could stay with the company and continue to receive good rates. However, local insurance companies, such as Texas Farm Bureau, may offer even lower rates in your new town.

Compare coverage and quotes from the cheapest insurers in your state in order to find the best rates.

Purchase a new policy

Once you've selected an insurance company, call an agent and provide them with all of the necessary information to purchase a new policy. Set your policy to begin the following day and make your initial payment. Next, call your old insurer and ask them to set the current day as the final date of coverage on your policy. This way, your coverage will never lapse, and you won't have any overlap on your insurance, either.

Step 3: Register your vehicle in your new state

Once you've obtained insurance coverage in your new state, you can register your vehicle and get a new license plate. In most states, you'll have to submit your license, proof of insurance and your vehicle's title in order to complete registration. Additionally, you may need to provide proof of your identity and residency status. Documents that can be used to prove this information may include passports, military cards, refugee travel documents and Welfare or Medicaid cards. However, you should consult your state's DMV website for a full list of their approved documents.

Your insurer may have provided you with temporary proof of insurance—either electronically or in the form of a printable document—when you purchased coverage. If not, you'll need to wait until your insurance card arrives in the mail to register your vehicle.

Once you have all of the necessary documentation, visit your local DMV and fill out the vehicle registration and title application forms they provide. Expect to pay registration fees between $25 and $60 in order to complete the applications.

Once you complete your registration and receive a new license plate, mail your old plate to your former state's DMV.

Step 4: Apply for a new license

Finally, you'll need to apply for a new driver's license. Ideally, this will be done at the same time and place as your vehicle registration. However, you may need to travel to a new location to fill out this application and have your picture taken. Ask your attendant at the registration office where you can apply for a new driver's license. As with your registration process, you'll need to fill out a license application form and pay an application fee in order to obtain a new state license.

Once this process is complete, you'll be a fully registered driver in your new state.

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