Moving to another state requires you to change your car's registration and license places, and may affect your insurance coverage, too. Your new state may have different car insurance coverage requirements than where you lived before. You may even need to transfer your coverage to a new insurance policy, depending on the companies in your area.
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While moving can take a lot of time and energy, it's a good idea to quickly complete the entire process of getting new insurance and registering your vehicle in a different state. Wait too long and you could be fined or lose insurance coverage and face the consequences of driving uninsured.
If you're moving a car to another state, you must notify your insurance company and purchase new coverage or update your existing policy with your new address.
Even if you don't have to change your car insurance when you move, it's a good idea to compare the companies in your new area to ensure you're getting the best rate.
After you change your car insurance, you'll have to register your car in the state, and get a new license and plates to avoid being fined.
1. Talk with your car insurance company
If you're moving with a car to a new state, you should contact your insurance provider to see whether you can maintain the same coverage. If your insurance company does offer coverage, you can avoid having to switch car insurance companies — though you will have to update your address and your rates may change.
If your current company doesn't offer car insurance in your new state, you will have to get a new policy before you can register your vehicle. Your insurance provider should be able to help you make all the necessary updates to your account, including selecting an ending date for your policy. When your coverage ends, they will send you a refund check on any prepaid premiums.
Is there a grace period for insurance when you move?
It depends. Insurance companies may give you some time to get everything adjusted after you move, but any grace period will be different for each provider. As for your license and vehicle registration, some states may offer grace periods of up to 90 days for you to update these records. Others, however, may have much more strict requirements for new residents, and could pursue legal action if you wait too long.
2. Shop around for new car insurance coverage
Although you may be able to keep the same coverage after you move, it may be cheaper not to. When you speak with your insurer about your move, shop around to get a sense of the rates in your new state and see how they compare with your current coverage.
Insurance companies determine your premium based on several factors. Your rates are affected by — among other details — your driving history, the type of car you're insuring, and your location. If you move, your old insurance company may no longer be the best option, so you should shop around to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
The required minimum insurance you have to carry may also change, depending on where you move to. The amount of insurance you want to buy influences your rates, too, and if your required minimums rise, your premiums will also go up. Fortunately, Policygenius can help you compare multiple car insurance companies to get the best balance of coverage and affordability, no matter where you live.
You should not cancel your car insurance until you have a new policy set up. Going uninsured for even a short period can cause your coverage to lapse, and you will be charged more expensive premiums in the future when you get another policy.
In most states, you have to show proof of insurance coverage along with your license and your car's title before you can register your vehicle. You can use your insurance card — or a temporary digital version — to prove that you've bought enough coverage.
When you're ready to change your vehicle's registration after moving, visit your local DMV or BMV with your required documentation and prepare to pay a small registration fee. Usually these fees are less than $100.
4. Apply for a new license and change your plates
Along with updating your insurance and registration status, you have to get a new driver's license when you move to a new state, too. Just as with your registration, you risk fees and other penalties if you wait too long to update your driver's license after moving.
You can apply for a new license at the same time as your vehicle registration. When you register your car in your new state, you can pay another fee, fill out the application for a license, and have your picture taken for your ID card.
When you finish the registration process, you'll receive temporary license plates while your new plates are manufactured. Attach your new license plates to your vehicle, and follow your state's guidelines for returning your old plates. Sometimes you'll be able to keep your plates if you pay a fee, but usually you'll just need to mail them back to your old state's DMV.
Do I need to change insurance when I move within my state?
You won't have to get a new title and registration if you move within your state, but you still may want to consider changing your insurance. Even moving to a new ZIP code can cause your rates to go up. For instance, it typically costs more to get insurance in crowded cities where a lot of drivers increase the chances for accidents.
Even if you're moving within your state, it's worth shopping around to see if your current carrier still offers the best rates in your area. If you're satisfied and you decide not to switch companies, you might just need to update your address.
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You can transfer your car's registration at your local Department or Bureau of Motor Vehicles. If you have to transfer your car's registration because you moved, visit the DMV in your new location. Make an appointment with your local DMV and be sure to check their website to be sure you bring all of the relevant documents with you.
Do you need insurance to change a car's title?
You don't need insurance to change a vehicle's title. A title document shows who has legal ownership of the vehicle, and is different from a car's registration. A title does not necessarily show that the car will be operated on the roads — which would require you to carry insurance. When transferring a title, you do have to sign a bill of sale.
Can you register your car in two states?
No, you can't register your car in two states at once. However, there are times when you may be able to register your vehicle in a different state from the one on your license. If you work in one state and live in another, you may be able to register your car in a different state. You may also do this if you're stationed in another state as a member or the military, or if you attend school in another state.
Andrew Hurst is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. His work has also been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, NPR, Mic, Insurance Business Magazine, ValuePenguin, and Property Casualty 360.