When you buy a new car, you can either:
Almost all insurers will let you transfer your car insurance to a new car. But it could change your price.
If your car’s more powerful, more valuable or less safe than your old one, you might have to pay a lot more.
You’ll usually have to pay an admin fee to switch your vehicle, too. So you might find it's easier – and cheaper – to just get a new policy altogether.
Once you’ve treated yourself to a new car, you’ll need to let your insurer know.
Car insurance policies (usually) only cover you on a specific car, so you won’t actually be insured until you do.
It’s worth double-checking with your insurer before you buy your new car, though. Sometimes they won’t be able to cover you on that car at all.
And if they can, it might make your car insurance more expensive.
If your new car’s more valuable, more powerful or less safe than your old one, it might make your insurance more expensive.
It might make your excess higher, too.
But these things can be hard to predict, because pricing in insurance gets pretty complicated. Your new car might be less powerful, which would make it cheaper, but the lack of safety features might mean it’s more expensive to insure.
So in other words, if you're switching from an old secon-hand car to a brand new, super expensive car with a massive engine, you'll end up having to pay a lot more for your insurance than you used to.
Checking your new car’s insurance group can give you a good idea of whether it will make the price of your car insurance go up. (Rule of thumb: higher insurance group means higher premiums.)
Keep an eye out for modifications, too. A lot of insurers (us included) can’t cover modified cars. And even seemingly small changes can count as modifications, like changing your car's colour.
You should also check whether your car's ever been written off, and if it's imported. These things can make your car insurance more expensive. And sometimes insurers won't cover it at all.
Luckily, you can check all these things with our free car checker.
You’ll usually have to pay an admin fee to switch your insurance over to a new car, too. Admin fees vary a lot between different insurance companies, but it’s usually between £15 and £30.
If switching your car makes your car insurance much more expensive, it’s often cheaper to cancel the policy and get a new one with a different insurer.
Just make sure you take cancellation fees into account. And bear in mind that you can lose some of your no-claims bonus.
You don’t need to do a full transfer if you’ve just switched cars temporarily. Most insurance companies will let you spend 30 days a year driving a different car.
But you usually won’t be insured on your main car while you’re temporarily switched over. And even if your insurer will let you add another car, it’ll make your price a lot higher.
That applies to any named drivers on your policy, too.
Your temporary car should have the same level of cover and your insurance should cost the same as before. But your insurer might have some conditions or criteria for the new vehicle. It’s best to check with them.
If you're using someone else's car, however, you probably aren't covered to use it – unless you have a Driving Other Cars (DOC) policy.
In the UK, there’s a law called Continuous Insurance Enforcement, or CIE.
It says that cars have to be insured all the time, unless they’ve been “declared off-road”.
There’s no “grace period” with car insurance, either, so your car has to be insured as soon as you buy it.
If you’ve just bought a new car, this can be tricky. You might want to take your time and shop around before you buy an insurance policy. Or you might not know exactly what car you’re getting till you’ve bought it.
You can get around that with temporary car insurance.
You can get a drive away policy for an hour or two to cover you till you get home. And then you can buy a week-long policy to tide you over while you choose a full policy.
If you’ve bought an additional car, you won’t be covered to drive it.
That means that, even though you’ve got a car insurance policy, it won’t cover you on every car you own.
If you want to insure more than one car at a time, you can either take out a completely new insurance policy, or look into multi-car insurance. If you’re insuring more than one car at a time, multi-car policies are usually cheaper than getting lots of different individual policies.
When you buy a car insurance policy, it’s specific to you. So when you sell your car, the insurance doesn’t move over to the new owner.
You can’t transfer it, either. And that’s because car insurance prices are based on some fairly complex calculations about how risky someone is to insure.
So if you do sell your car, make sure you cancel the insurance. If you don’t, things can get messy. We won’t bore you with the details, but save yourself a few headaches by cancelling.
You can (usually) switch your insurance from a car to a van, as long as you’re not using it for business. But there are a few things to bear in mind.
Vans also have different insurance groups to cars, so it’s tricky to compare like-for-like.
And if yours does, bear in mind that there are a few different levels of business cover.
You’ll also usually need a special kind of van insurance called “Carriage of Own Goods” cover if you want to protect the stuff you use for work.
If you’re getting paid to move other people’s stuff, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got “goods in transit” cover.
If you haven’t got business insurance, you can usually add it (but it might cost you a bit extra). So when you tell your insurer you want to switch from a car to a van, make sure you let them know how you’re planning to use it.
If you've got Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP) insurance, you should be able to transfer it onto a new car. But it depends on your insurer.
Like with your main insurance policy, your GAP insurance might get a bit more expensive once you’ve switched vehicles.
Sometimes, your insurer will cancel the GAP insurance, give you a refund (with some taken off for the time you’ve been covered) and give you a new GAP insurance policy.
If you’ve got named drivers on your policy, you can (usually) move them across to your new car.
But just because your insurer will cover you doesn’t mean they’ll cover your named drivers. Your insurance company will look at each named driver individually to see if they can cover them.
So it’s worth double-checking they can get covered on your new car before you switch your policy.
If you can switch your car over, it won’t affect your no-claims bonus at all. You’ll carry on building it up as usual.
Updated on 4th November 2020