America is a mobile society. There are nearly 300 million of us, and we move around a lot, whether because of the job, family, or changes in our life situations, such as retirement. When you are contemplating a move, one of the more important things to consider is your auto insurance policy.
Depending on where you live, and where you’re moving to, the cost of auto insurance in your new location can either be a pleasant surprise, or a financial shock. For instance, if you’re moving from New Jersey to South Carolina, you’re likely to get a much better rate. However, if the move is reversed (South Carolina to New Jersey), you need to count on having to free up additional income to cover the higher cost of insurance.
Why is this? Many factors influence auto insurance underwriting, and the geographic location of where a car will be driven is one of the most important considerations. Here are a few things that figure into the underwriting calculus in determining auto insurance rates in any given area of the country:
– Population density
– Individual state tort laws
– State minimum insurance requirements
– Vehicle theft rates
– The local weather almanac (think hurricanes, floods, etc.)
So, it’s not surprising that if you’re moving, your auto insurance rates are going to change regardless of your own driving history. To avoid ‘sticker shock’ prior to your move, it’s best to start getting quotes well in advance of the actual move. Don’t wait until you’re settled in at your new home. If you move, and don’t notify your carrier of the address change right away, you may not be covered in the event of an accident.
Procrastination Can Leave You Uninsured
The first thing to check is to see if your existing carrier binds policies in the state that you’re moving to. Surprisingly, even national companies don’t write auto insurance policies in every state. Your agent can advise you, and even get you an updated quote for your new location prior to the move. If your carrier doesn’t insure in the state you’re moving to, then you’ll have to start researching and getting quotes from other auto insurance carriers who are licensed to do business in the state.
Regardless of where you move, there are some constants when it comes to properly insuring your car. Most states have a legal requirement that new residents register their vehicles in the state and get a new driver’s license within a certain time period (generally, 30 to 90 days). If your car isn’t registered and/or inspected in your new state, or you’re not properly licensed to drive in the state, you may not be covered even if you’ve switched your insurance. Again, your agent can advise.
The bottom line is to avoid waiting until you’ve made the move to start checking into these requirements. In the big picture of a move, auto insurance might seem like a little detail that can be dealt with at your leisure. It makes sense, though, to do the upfront work so you’re legally covered, rather than risk the possibility of driving uninsured (or under-insured) at your new location.