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Get your insurance in order when buying a new car

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Perhaps you have had your eye on a sleek new vehicle for some time, or you pass a car dealership one day and have the hankering to test drive some cars. You end up with a vehicle to replace the one you already have. Naturally, you are excited and want to show off your car. You are probably not thinking about the possibility that another car could hit you.

The good news is that most insurance policies in California provide for an automatic 30 days' worth of coverage on your new vehicle, but the bad news is that the level of coverage may not match your needs. Here is a look at why.

Different cars

Your old car and your new car might be nearly as different as an apple and orange, so finding similarities is tricky. For example, your old car could be 20 years old and worth about $1,500, while the new car is, well, brand-new and worth $30,000. With a $1,500 car, you might have been paying the state minimums for insurance coverage or close to them. Now suppose you drive your brand-new car around and have yet to get a policy that matches your updated needs. Another driver crashes into your car, and whatever you can recover from your insurance company is likely to be whatever you would have gotten if you were driving the old car.

Yes, there is a possibility that the other driver's insurance would take care of much or all of that problem. However, many drivers are uninsured or underinsured, and car accidents are often more costly than people realize.

What you can do

Fortunately, the solution is fairly simple. Ideally, you would let your insurance agent know ahead of time about the new purchase, so you are good to go immediately. Otherwise, let your agent know as soon as possible. In the case of no advance notice to your insurance company, you might want to avoid buying a car on a day when the insurance office is closed.

If you have suffered injuries in a car accident, you may be able to claim compensation for your medical costs, lost income and other economic and noneconomic losses. Discuss the potential value of your claim with an experienced attorney.

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