Updating your car insurance when you move

Whether moving in-state or out-of-state, it could affect your car insurance cost.

Colin Lalley 1600


Colin Lalley

Colin Lalley

Insurance Expert

Colin Lalley is the Associate Director of SEO Content at Policygenius in New York City. His writing on insurance and personal finance has appeared on Betterment, Inc, Credit Sesame, and the Council for Disability Awareness.

Published November 2, 2018|5 min read

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When you move, there’s a long checklist of things to work though. That includes a long list of places to update your address — including your car insurance company.

When you’re moving to a new state, you’ll need to change your car insurance policy. That’s because your new state may have different requirements or factors that result in a different cost of your policy. Even if you’re moving within the same state, you should talk to your insurance carrier to make sure your policy is up to date.

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Changing my car insurance when I move out-of-state

Here are the steps you need to take with your car insurance when you're moving to a new state.

1. Talk to your car insurance company

A good place to start when you’re moving is simply calling your insurance company or broker, or chatting with them online.

Explain your situation and they should be able to help you make all the necessary updates to your account (like changing your address to get a refund check) and start the process of buying a new policy.

They’ll also be able to tell you right away whether they operate in your new state or if you need to look for a new carrier altogether.

Of course, you don’t have to stick with your current carrier. If you use an independent broker like Policygenius that works with multiple carriers, you may find quotes from a different company that provide the same amount of coverage for less money. So while your current carrier is a great place to start, don’t limit yourself to just one option!

2. Find out your new state’s minimum car insurance requirements

When you move out of state, you may need to buy more or less car insurance. That’s because different states have different minimum coverage requirements.

Car insurance coverage is broken down into:

  • Bodily injury liability coverage by person and accident

  • Property damage liability coverage

  • Personal injury protection

  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage

Depending on the state, some of these coverages are optional (but recommended!), and some of the minimums vary wildly; for insurance, Alaska requires $50,000 of coverage for bodily injury liability coverage per person, while Arizona only requires $15,000.

While an agent or broker will help make sure you have the proper amount of coverage, it’s good to familiarize yourself with your new state’s requirements so you’re not surprised if you see a big price swing with your new policy.

Find the minimum car insurance requirements in every state.

3. How to switch car your car insurance if you move out of state

It’s definitely worth comparing quotes from different car insurance companies to find the coverage and cost that fits your need and budget. But how do you switch one policy for another?

  • Decide how much coverage you need. This depends on your state’s minimum requirements, but also how much you’d be able to afford to pay in the event of an accident. Recommended coverage amounts are $100,000 in bodily injury coverage per person; $300,0000 in bodily injury coverage per accident; and $100,000 in property damage coverage.

  • Pick a deductible. Your deductible is how much you have to pay out of pocket before your carrier starts to pay. A higher deductible typically means lower premiums, and vice versa.

Your deductible and coverage amount (along with other factors mentioned below that are mostly out of your control, like your age and your car) are big factors in determining what your monthly premium will be.

It’s usually better to get quotes based on your needs and adjust from there rather than having a predetermined budget and trying to fit a policy into it — you may leave yourself underinsured and end up paying more in the event of an accident.

  • Compare quotes and carriers. Some things to keep in mind when comparing quotes:

Car insurance quotes usually read as something like 100/300/100, which translates to the amounts of bodily injury coverage per person, bodily injury coverage per accident, and property damage coverage.

Different car insurance companies offer different discounts either on drivers (like for students or good drivers) or on policies (like bundling home and auto policies with the same company). Find a company that will provide discounts that fit your situation.

  • Purchase your new policy. When you find the perfect fit, buy your policy either through the insurance company directly or through a broker. Brokers like Policygenius can usually help cancel your old policy and put your new one in place. Your new policy will be active as soon as you sign and pay for your policy.

Important note: Don’t cancel your current policy until your new one is in place! You risk leaving yourself unprotected, which can be costly.

Learn more about comparing auto insurance quotes and shopping online.

4. Update your title, registration, and license

Once you have your new car insurance in place, you can take care of other driving-related matters, like your title, registration, and license.

Why wait until after you buy your car insurance? Because most states require proof of insurance to register your vehicle, and in all states (except for New Hampshire and Virginia) it’s illegal to drive without proper insurance coverage. If you update your auto insurance first, you’ll save yourself some logistical and legal headaches.

Most states allow 30 days between when you move and when you have to update your registration, so check with the appropriate DMV to get a timeline and plan accordingly.

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Do I need to change insurance when I move within my state?

If you’re moving but staying in the state you already call home, things are a little bit easier. You don’t have to deal with a new title and registration, and the minimum coverage requirements will obviously stay the same.

However, there are still steps you’ll need to take. You should still talk to your insurance company and look at your coverage options. Even moving between zip codes can have an effect on your car insurance costs, so it’s worth shopping around to see if your current carrier and policy still offers the best price. If you’re sticking with the same company, you might just need a simple address update.

Why does a change of address make my car insurance higher?

Whether you’re moving out of state or just to the next town over, your car insurance costs may rise. That’s because of how car insurance costs are determined. The factors that your car insurance company uses to price your policy include:

  • Your driving record

  • Your coverage type and amount

  • Your age

  • How much you drive

  • Your car

  • Your zip code

That’s right: Where you live, and associated factors like the number of accidents and car thefts, plays a big role in your premium price. That’s why moving to a new city — never mind a new state — can make your car insurance more expensive. Of course, if you move to a safer place, that can result in cheaper auto insurance.

Learn more about what determines the cost of your car insurance.