Financial responsibility must be obtained and maintained on any vehicle operated or parked on California roadways and must be provided as specified below:
- When requested by law enforcement
- When renewing vehicle registration (if requested)
- When the vehicle is involved in a traffic accident
- Within 30 days of receiving a registration card for a newly acquired vehicle
- Within 45 days of the cancellation of a policy for a currently registered vehicle
The CA Department of Motor Vehicles notes that you must carry evidence of financial responsibility (proof of insurance) in your vehicle at all times.
The CA DMV states that for a private use vehicle your insurance company must report your insurance information to DMV within 30 days of the issuance of a registration card for a newly acquired vehicle (original or transfer), so this is how long you have to provide evidence of insurance to the DMV. However if you drive on the roadways during this 30 day period you would need proof of insurance in the vehicle to show if stopped by law enforcement.
The California Department of Insurance states that if you anticipate acquiring a new, replacement, or additional vehicle, contact your agent/broker or company prior to taking possession. It is necessary to determine what coverage will be extended and what coverage will have to be added to your existing policy. If the new vehicle is financed, also check with the lender for their insurance requirements.
The California DOI also states that most insurance policies within CA provide 30 days automatic coverage for a vehicle that replaces a vehicle already on your policy. The coverage normally is the same coverage you had on your previous vehicle. Notify your broker-agent as soon as possible of any replacement vehicle. If you wish additional coverage, there is usually a requirement that you notify your agent or your company within a designated time period.
If your are buying a car that is not replacing a car but adding a car to your current car insurance policy or buying her first car to place on a new insurance policy then you would want to try to make sure your insurance coverages are set up before taking possession of the vehicle. This way you will already have your coverages in place and can provide proof if asked for it to be furnished.