How to get insurance to drive a new car home

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Drive away insurance
Buying from a dealership
Buying from a person
Once the car's home
Tax
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Driving someone else's car home

Picture the scene. You've found your dream car, negotiated a decent price, and finally have the keys in your hand.

All that's left now is to get in the driver seat, breathe in that new-car smell and drive it home for the first time, right?

Wrong! It's not fun, but the next step is to get insured. And, yes - we mean before you drive it home.

 Get temporary car insurance for your new car

There's no "grace period" when it comes to car insurance. Unless your car is "off-road" (more on that later), you need to be covered. It's just not worth the risk.

If you can't get a full insurance policy sorted out before you buy your new car (maybe because you don't have the right documents yet), you can get a temporary car insurance policy.

This means you'll be covered - usually comprehensively - for a specific period of time. Just double-check that your insurer's temporary insurance 1) is comprehensive, and 2) comes without a required underlying policy.

Some insurers only let you buy a temporary car insurance policy if there's already a full, underlying policy. (Psss: Cuvva's temporary car insurance policies are comprehensive, and the car doesn't need an underlying policy.)

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If you buy through a dealership, insurance might be included

If you're buying a new car from a dealership, they might throw in temporary insurance for the drive home.

Sometimes dealerships team up with insurers to offer buyers an easy temporary insurance policy to get their new car home.

But this isn't always the case, so make sure you double-check - and make sure you get all the official paperwork so you know exactly what you're covered for when you drive home. Sometimes it's only third-party insurance that's included.

If they don't include insurance, you'll need to get your own temporary car insurance policy.

There's no feeling like buying a new car
There's no feeling like buying a new car

But if you buy it second-hand from a person, you'll need to buy a policy

If you're buying someone's car second hand, rather than getting a new car from a dealership, you'll have to get your own insurance.

Even if the person you're buying the car off has it insured, their policy won't cover you. In fact, they'll probably have cancelled their insurance by the time you buy it.

And you can't transfer car insurance to a new owner, either. You'll need to sort out your own cover for the drive home.

The same rules apply to test driving

Even if you're just test driving a car, it needs insurance. Dealerships usually include it, but private sellers don't, so you'll need to sort out cover if you want to take it for a spin.

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Sorting your insurance once you've got the car home

Once you've got the car home, you'll need to sort out a full insurance policy.

This is because of a couple of car insurance laws. One's called the Road Traffic Act - that's the one that says you have to have car insurance - and the other one is Continuous Insurance Enforcement (or CIE to its friends) - which says cars must be insured at all times, not just when they're on the road.

Put simply, this means that if you're temporary car insurance runs out, you'll be breaking the law - even if your car's just sitting on the driveway.

You've got three options:

Buy a longer-term insurance policy from when your short-term cover runs out

Extend your temporary insurance

If you need to, you can buy temporary for weeks at a time. This can be handy if you're not ready to sort out a full policy yet. With Cuvva, you can extend a policy for as long as you need to through the app in a few taps.

SORN your car

Your car always needs insurance, unless you "declare it off-road". To do that you need to register a Statutory Off-Road Notification, or SORN. (Remember that SORNing your car doesn't cancel your car insurance, though.)

If you "declare your car off-road", it won't need insurance. Just make sure you un-SORN it (and get it insured) before you drive it again (unless you're off to get it MOT'd - but you should double check whether this is allowed with your specific policy.

You're not allowed to drive a SORN car, unless you're off to get an MOT (but make sure your insurance covers it first).

Make sure your car is insured before hitting the road
Make sure your car is insured before hitting the road

You need to think about tax, too

Like insurance, your car needs to be taxed straight away.

You need car insurance to tax your car. Luckily, you can use temporary car insurance to sort out your tax.

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Can you tax a car without insurance? Check it out.

Check if the car's got a valid MOT (if it needs one)

Cars don't need MOTs until they're 3 years old. So if you've got proof that the car doesn't need an MOT, you don't need to worry about that. (There are a few other exceptions, too.)

If the car is more than three years old, make sure you double-check it's got a valid MOT. If it doesn't, it's not legal to drive it.

You don't need an MOT to buy insurance.

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Driving someone else's new car home (or letting someone drive yours)

Most car insurance policies don't include Driving Other Cars cover - and that means it only covers a specific person on a specific car.

So if you want to drive someone else's new car home - or if you want someone else to drive your car home - you'll need temporary car insurance.

Before you buy short-term cover, make sure you double-check that:

  • The insurer doesn't need you to have an underlying policy
  • You don't need to have a specific relationship to the owner

You don't need either of those things with Cuvva. But some insurance companies have specific rules about it.

Whatever you're after, you can get a quick quote here.

Updated on 3rd April 2023