Auto and truck dealers make it very easy to buy a new vehicle these days. Buyers usually need to provide only an ID card showing proof of liability insurance and off they go. This practice makes it easy for the dealer and the buyer to overlook proper insurance coverage on the new vehicle. The same thing is true if you intend to purchase a vehicle from a private seller.
Unfortunately, the only way to be sure you have exactly the coverage you need on a newly purchased vehicle is to call your agent before you drive away from the point of sale. That of course is not always possible.
Fortunately, all policies provide some automatic coverage on newly acquired vehicles, but not all policies provide the same automatic coverage.
The first important point to know is that your policy provides coverage only on vehicles purchased or acquired by the person or entity that is named on the policy – the “named insured.” If you are going to acquire a new vehicle and intend to issue the title in a name other than the name shown on your policy, there is no automatic coverage on your policy. If that’s the case, you definitely need to contact your agent before driving the new vehicle away from the dealership or the private seller’s location.
Once you are OK with the ownership requirement, it’s important to know that very few business auto policies automatically provide “full coverage” on newly acquired vehicles. The coverage you get may depend on whether or not you are trading in one of your current vehicles for the new vehicle at the time of the sale and what kind of coverage exists on the traded vehicle.
Even if a policy provides “full coverage” on a newly acquired vehicle, the automatic coverage may only last for a few days – 30 days on most policies. You must call your agent before that period ends in order to finalize the details.
If you are going to shop for a new vehicle, call your agent before you go. Your agent can review your policy and ask a few questions. Then he or she can tell you if it’s OK to drive the new vehicle away from the seller’s location without calling first to give details about the purchase. If it is, be sure to call your agent on the first business day after your purchase, so the final details on the coverage can be arranged.
If your agent says you need to call first, be sure call back as soon as you are ready and then wait until he or she confirms that coverage has been purchased before you take possession of the new vehicle.