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 specific 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 drive in Washington. Otherwise, they may be financially liable in case of an at-fault accident.
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Written by:
Maggie O'Neill
Contributing Researcher
Maggie has twenty years of experience working in media. She is a writer and editor on car insurance and related issues. Before joining CarInsurance.com, she reported on health, education and lifestyle for magazines, websites and newspapers in Nevada.
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Reviewed by:
Laura Longero
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Executive Editor
Laura is an award-winning editor with experience in content and communications covering auto insurance and personal finance. She has written for several media outlets, including the USA Today Network. She most recently worked in the public sector for the Nevada Department of Transportation.

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

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

  • $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 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 are also certain vehicles you do not need insurance for in Washington state, including:

  • 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 determine 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 before 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 how seniors can 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.
Laura Longero

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Laura Longero

Executive Editor

Laura is an award-winning editor with experience in content and communications covering auto insurance and personal finance. She has written for several media outlets, including the USA Today Network. She most recently worked in the public sector for the Nevada Department of Transportation.

John McCormick

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John McCormick

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John is the editorial director for CarInsurance.com, Insurance.com and Insure.com. Before joining QuinStreet, John was a deputy editor at The Wall Street Journal and had been an editor and reporter at a number of other media outlets where he covered insurance, personal finance, and technology.

Leslie Kasperowicz

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Leslie Kasperowicz

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Leslie Kasperowicz is an insurance educator and content creation professional with nearly two decades of experience first directly in the insurance industry at Farmers Insurance and then as a writer, researcher, and educator for insurance shoppers writing for sites like ExpertInsuranceReviews.com and InsuranceHotline.com and managing content, now at CarInsurance.com.

Nupur Gambhir

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Nupur Gambhir is a content editor and licensed life, health, and disability insurance expert. She has extensive experience bringing brands to life and has built award-nominated campaigns for travel and tech. Her insurance expertise has been featured in Bloomberg News, Forbes Advisor, CNET, Fortune, Slate, Real Simple, Lifehacker, The Financial Gym, and the end-of-life planning service.

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author image
Contributing Researcher

Maggie has twenty years of experience working in media. She is a writer and editor on car insurance and related issues. Before joining CarInsurance.com, she reported on health, education and lifestyle for magazines, websites and newspapers in Nevada.