How long do you have to get insurance after buying a used car in Washington? You can contact your current auto insurance provider to get a specific answer to this question, but generally, you can add another vehicle to your existing policy by calling your insurance provider and giving them information on the vehicle, including the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

The auto provider can then give you an updated premium based on the age of your new car, your past driving record, your age, the number of other cars insured and other factors.

Key Highlights
  • Contact your auto insurance company when you have purchased a new car in Washington state to add the vehicle to your policy.
  • When you obtain insurance, you will need to meet certain auto liability coverage amounts that are set by the Office of the Insurance Commission in Washington.
  • All drivers need to purchase this minimum liability insurance coverage to be able to drive in Washington. Otherwise, they may be financially liable in case of an at-fault accident.

How long after buying a car do you have to get insurance in Washington?

Washington state requires anyone who operates a motor vehicle to have liability insurance, according to the Office of the Insurance Commissioner for Washington state. There is no Washington state car insurance grace period, and the minimum requirements for liability insurance are:

  • $25,000 for injuries or death to another person
  • $50,000 for injuries or death to all other people
  • $10,000 for damage to another person’s property

In fact, if you are caught driving without the required insurance amounts or with no insurance at all in Washington, you could receive a fine of $550 or more. Should you be in an at-fault accident without the necessary insurance coverages, you could have your license suspended.

There also are certain vehicles that you do not need to have insurance for in Washington state.

These include:

  • A horseless carriage that’s more than 40 years old
  • A moped
  • A state or publicly-owned vehicle

However, you should not rely on a Washington state car insurance grace period before contacting your auto insurance company. That’s because if you don’t have auto insurance or the minimum required amounts you could be financially responsible for the repairs or injuries that occur in an accident.

Contact your insurance company after buying a car in Washington

The insurance regulator for the state of Washington says that all insurance companies have different time requirements to add a newly-acquired vehicle to the policy. Checking with your insurance provider to find out how long you have to add that vehicle to your existing policy is a good decision. However, most dealers require physical damage coverage on the vehicle before it leaves the dealership.

If you already have insurance on other vehicles and purchase a new vehicle that needs to be added to your insurance policy, contact your insurer to see if your policy will extend to the new car for a certain amount of time or if you need to add the car immediately to the policy to be covered. Many times, if you are replacing a vehicle on your policy with a new vehicle, the coverage of the old vehicle extends to your new vehicle for a few days.

If you do not already have an auto insurance policy, get insurance before driving off the lot. You can give an insurance company information on the vehicle ahead of time so that the policy can be started prior to your legal possession of the car.

The dealership may need to fax or contact the insurance agent with information If, for some reason, you do not end up buying the car, let your insurance company know, so the policy doesn’t go into effect.

Learn more about how can seniors save on car insurance in Washington

— Michelle Megna contributed to this story

Resources & Methodology

Sources:

  1. Office of the Insurance Commissioner Washington State. “Washington state’s mandatory auto/motorcycle insurance law.” Accessed November 2022.
  2. Washington State Department of Licensing. “Getting a driver’s license: Mandatory insurance.” Accessed November 2022.