Every Car Dealer Makes You Do This One Key Thing Before Driving Off the Lot

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  • Every driver is required to have auto insurance.
  • Car dealers require proof of insurance before a new owner can drive a vehicle off the lot.
  • It's important to be prepared and have insurance when picking up a vehicle.

Don't buy a new car without reading this first.

Most car buyers are eager to drive their newly-purchased vehicle off the lot. But, before you're allowed to hit the road, you are going to have to fulfill a specific requirement.

This requirement is in place no matter what dealer you buy from and regardless of whether you pay cash, finance your car with a vehicle loan, or pay with funds from a personal loan. You need to be prepared for it before you go car shopping or head to the dealer to pick up that shiny new car.

Be prepared for this requirement when buying a new vehicle

Before driving a car off of the lot, every car dealer is going to require proof of insurance.

See, state laws require drivers to have a certain minimum amount of insurance coverage. The exact types of required auto insurance will vary by state.

Generally, though, drivers are required to have liability coverage which pays if they cause an accident that injures others or damages their property. Personal injury protection (PIP) is also mandated in "no-fault" states which require drivers to cover minor injuries through their own insurance no matter who caused a crash.

Since these types of insurance are legally mandated, dealers do not let car buyers drive off without them. In cases where vehicles are leased or financed, gap insurance may also be required. This is a policy that pays the difference between what the insurance pays if a car is stolen or totaled and the amount due on the loan. It's usually mandatory for financed or leased cars, because cars are often worth less than what the driver paid for them -- and insurers only pay fair market value.

Shop for insurance before heading to the dealer

Since auto insurance is required by car dealers before a driver can take a vehicle home, motorists need to be prepared before they go pick up a car.

If a driver doesn't have insurance in place, they could be left trying to get in touch with an insurance company at the dealership. This usually means they'll default to their existing auto insurer to buy a policy for their new car, or they'll go with an insurer the dealer advises them to contact.

This insurer may not provide the best or most affordable coverage though. So a driver who scrambles to buy a policy just to be able to drive a new car off the lot could end up with costly insurance that doesn't offer all of the desired protections.

To avoid this, motorists should shop around for coverage before they go to a car dealer. It's possible to get insurance quotes for any vehicle by inputting the model number and details, so drivers can find out what different insurers will charge them for different vehicles they are interested in.

After shopping around, motorists will know exactly what insurer to reach out to when they buy a vehicle. And any driver who doesn't pick up their car the same day they bought it (such as if they special order one) can usually get the details from the dealer in advance and buy a policy before even going to the dealership. This can save time, as well as the stress of having to call an insurer from the dealer and sign up for a policy right away just to leave the car lot.

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