Buying a new car is exciting. So much so that it can be easy to forget about less glamorous, but equally important things like updating your car insurance. 

You need to have car insurance to drive legally in the UK, so it’s essential to set up your insurance cover before you pick up your new set of wheels.

Thankfully, updating your car insurance isn’t a complicated process. 

Can I transfer my existing car insurance?

Usually, yes. Standard motor insurance policies run for 12 months, but most insurers will allow you to change the car in your policy part way through this time period.

Changing the vehicle in your insurance policy could mean that the cost of your insurance will also change, depending on the car you’re insuring. Your provider is also likely to charge an admin fee for the change. According to Compare the Market, this is likely to be between £10 to £30, but it depends on your insurance provider.

How do I change my car insurance policy?

You normally just call your insurer to amend your policy. Or, if they have an online customer portal, you may be able to make changes online.

Either way, you’ll need to have a few details to hand, such as: your policy number, your vehicle’s registration number, and the make, model, engine size and value of the vehicle. You will also need to let your insurer know about any modifications that have been made to the car, so they can ensure your policy still covers you. Finally, be sure to tell them if you need to make any other changes to your policy

If your insurer is able to offer cover for your new car and you agree to proceed with any change to your premium, then they will provide you with new policy documents, either online or by post.

When you change your car insurance policy to cover your new car, your insurance will be in place until your existing renewal date. It’s worth bearing in mind that your renewal date will remain the same after you change the car covered by your policy.

When do I need to change my insurance cover?

You should not change your insurance policy before you buy the new car, but, once you’ve decided on which car you want to buy, you can call your insurer for a quote. That way you can find out how much you’re likely to pay and whether this will be more or less than your current premium.

If you’re buying a new car from a dealer, then they may give you a temporary car insurance policy as part of the deal, but make sure you check before driving away and don’t forget to  put longer-term insurance in place from when the temporary cover expires.

If you buy your car second-hand, you’ll need to set up your insurance cover yourself before you drive the car home.

Would I be better swapping insurance providers?

When buying a new car, instead of staying with your existing provider, you could cancel your insurance and find a new insurance company altogether.

If you choose to do so, you may be entitled to a refund for any unused cover with your existing insurer, providing no claims have been made in that policy year. However, you’re also likely to have to pay a cancellation fee and lose your no claims bonus for the year if you start a brand-new policy.

Compare the Market suggests that, if you’re happy with your current provider and the costs are reasonable, then staying with them might be the most straightforward option.

If you do decide to cancel, then it’s important to check your policy documents carefully before going ahead.

What if I forget to update my insurance?

If you don’t tell your insurer that you’re driving a different car, or if your insurer doesn’t confirm the changes, then your cover will no longer be valid and you won’t be able to claim on your insurance. 

This means that you won’t have insurance cover in place and you won’t be driving legally. Driving without the right insurance can land you with a fine, points on your licence, or your new car could even be seized by the police.

Don’t forget vehicle tax

When you buy a vehicle, you must tax it before you can use it.

The amount of tax you need to pay will vary depending on the CO2 emissions of your car model, as well as when the car was first registered - see our car tax guide for more information.

You can arrange your car tax online  through the official gov.uk website or you can call the DVLA.

Once you get your new car insured and taxed, you’re all set to take to the road and enjoy your new set of wheels.

Go to Solved to read more about insurance and motoring.