I Just Bought a Car: What Do I Do Now?

If you have recently purchased a car, you’re joining the more than 239 million car owners in the United States. According to a report by Wards Auto, nearly every person in the U.S. has at least one car, and for every 1.3 people in the country, there’s one car or truck in the household.

Now that you’re a car owner, there are some important steps to take to ensure you are driving legally. This will require some time and work, but following these steps will save you trouble later on.

Register with the DMV

The first step is to make sure your car is registered in your state. Before you can register your car, you’ll need to have several items.

  • The car’s title in your name or the bank’s name, if you received financing
  • Valid car insurance
  • Proof that your car passed a safety inspection
  • Proof that your car passed an emissions or smog check

Every state has different regulations to follow, but there is some basic information that is standard among most DMVs. To register your car, you’ll need the necessary documents. These usually include the bill of sale, ID, title certificate, and odometer reading. You’ll take this information to your local DMV, fill out some paperwork, and pay a registration fee.

If you’ve bought your car from a reputable dealership, chances are the salesperson will help you get all the paperwork in order, especially if you’ve received financing through the dealership. You’ll fill out some paperwork at the dealership and then be issued a temporary plate that is usually good for 30 days. It’s your responsibility to get to the DMV to get your permanent registration taken care of before your temporary plate expires.

If you’ve received financing through a bank, credit union, or other source outside of the dealership, you’ll need to go to the place where you’ve received financing and get the title with their name on it. You’ll take this title to the DMV for your registration.

Get the Proper Car Insurance

Your next step is to make sure your new car is insured. If this is the first time you’re ready to buy car insurance, keep the basics in mind prior to purchasing insurance. You’ll want to know the minimum liability required in your state, what the basic types of coverage are, how much insurance you need, and what the right insurance deductible for you is.

Get A Car Insurance Quote

Types of Insurance Coverages

Minimum liability:  There are two types of liability insurance to consider.

  1. Property Damage: This insurance will cover damage to another person’s property in a car accident.
  2. Bodily Injury: This insurance will covers injuries another person may suffer in a car accident.

Most states require liability insurance, both property and bodily, at a minimum. The amount of coverage you need varies by state, but that amount usually isn’t enough to cover both repairs and medical costs if there is an accident. If you don’t carry enough liability insurance, you could be personally responsible for additional costs.

Collision and Comprehensive Insurance

Liability is required in most states, but collision and comprehensive coverage are usually optional. If you’ve financed your vehicle, chances are your financial institution will require you to have collision and comprehensive coverage.

The main difference between liability and collision and comprehensive insurance is that liability covers damages occurred by the other person and collision and comprehensive cover your damage. Collision insurance takes care of your vehicle if there is a collision-related accident. Comprehensive insurance covers your vehicle in cases of theft, natural disasters, or vandalism.

If you have a newer car or you live in a large metropolitan area, it’s a good idea to consider including collision and comprehensive coverage.

Having the Right Amount of Insurance

While having an auto insurance policy that saves you money is a plus, having car insurance that will protect you and your financial assets should be a top priority.  The cost of repairing or replacing a newer car is typically more expensive than that of an older one, so if your coverage limits are too low, you may find yourself paying out of pocket for the costs associated with vehicle damage, medical bills, and more.  We recommend reviewing your policy to make sure you have the right amount of coverage after any life changing event such as buying a new car, or getting married.

You will also want to consider how much you want your deductible to be. This is the amount that you agree to pay out of pocket, in the event of an accident. A deductible could be as low as $250, but a low deductible usually comes with a higher premium. The main point to consider when deciding on your deductible is what you can afford to pay at any time. For example, if you choose a higher deductible you cannot afford in the event of an accident, you could have some financial troubles paying for the cost of the accident.

Finding Affordable Car Insurance

Because car insurance rates differ by company and by state, it’s a good idea to know which companies provide the lowest costs in your state on average. This can help you narrow down your options for which companies you want to get a quote from. Find the most affordable car insurance companies where you live by selecting your state below.

Auto Insurance

We recommend shopping around every six months to insure you aren’t paying more than you should. Ready to get car insurance quotes?  Call a licensed agent at 855-462-2213 to compare rates.


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