For drivers in Pennsylvania, car insurance is mandatory. But do you have to have insurance coverage the minute you hit the road in your new car? Or do you have some time to finalize your policy after buying your car? In this article, we’ll discuss this important wrinkle in car insurance policies, known as a car insurancegrace period.” 

Before you can worry about your grace period, you’ll need to purchase car insurance. While drivers have no shortage of car insurance companies to choose from, Insurify simplifies the process by helping you quickly compare auto insurance. Then, you can find a policy that keeps you protected on the road without exceeding your budget.

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What is a car insurance grace period?

Driving while uninsured comes with many dangers, from hefty fines to potentially disastrous financial consequences if you get in an accident. That’s why avoiding a lapse in coverage is so important. It’s pretty simple: if you’re buying a car, new or used, getting car insurance should be at the top of your to-do list. 

Still, many insurance companies will give you a small period of time to get a policy after purchasing your car. Though different states have different requirements, generally you get a grace period of 7 to 30 days to purchase a policy. 

This grace period varies based on your situation. For instance, drivers buying car insurance for the first time might need to buy a policy right away. In fact, if you don’t have any car insurance yet, the car dealership will likely require you to buy auto insurance before you drive the car off the lot.

But what if you’re adding a new car to an existing policy? In this case, you may get more time. Major insurers like State Farm, Allstate, and Progressive give you up to 30 days to add a new car to your current policy. If you need to file a claim in that 30-day period, your new vehicle will be covered using the coverage limits established on your existing policy

Note that the term “grace period” has several meanings in the world of car insurance. While this article discusses the period of time you have to insure a new car, a grace period can also refer to the time you have to pay your monthly car insurance premiums. Many companies will give you a grace period of up to 30 days after the due date to make a car insurance payment. 

What are the Pennsylvania laws for grace periods?

The guidelines regarding car insurance grace periods vary from state to state. Before buying your car insurance, you’ll want to speak to an insurance agent about your state’s laws. All drivers in Pennsylvania must have car insurance—so even though you get a grace period, buying car insurance must be a top priority. 

How soon do you have to get insurance on a new car in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, a lapse in car insurance coverage is a major problem. Your driving privileges can be suspended for up to three months if you’re found driving without proof of insurance. So as for how soon you should get insurance on a new car in Pennsylvania, the simplest answer is “immediately.” But don’t worry just yet. You get a small grace period before issues arise.

How long are grace periods in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation stipulates that a driver’s auto insurance policy may lapse for a period of under 31 days, assuming they can prove that the uninsured vehicle was not operated during that time. Violating this rule can lead to the suspension of your vehicle’s registration and/or a fine of up to $500. 

But what does it mean to “be insured” as a Pennsylvania driver? Well, you’ll have to meet Pennsylvania’s car insurance requirements. That means you’ve bought $15,000 in bodily injury liability insurance per person (and $30,000 per accident), as well as at least $5,000 in property damage insurance. 

Do different Pennsylvania insurance companies have different grace period policies?

While Pennsylvania has strict laws for car insurance grace periods, your car insurance company might have specific rules, too. As noted, major insurers like Progressive give drivers 30 days. But some may want you to be insured even faster than that.

At the end of the day, state laws for grace periods will win out. After all, you’ll need to register your car with the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles. After you buy a new car, the state will mail you a letter of inquiry asking if you’ve insured your new vehicle. That’s how you let the state know you’ve bought the necessary liability coverage to register your vehicle. 

Car Accidents and Traffic Offenses During Your Grace Period

Pennsylvania makes it clear that you should not be driving if you don’t have car insurance. But if you’re adding a new car to your existing policy (as opposed to buying a new policy outright), you may be able to drive for a few weeks before adding the new car to your policy. But what happens if you get in an accident or earn a traffic violation during that time?

Car Accidents During Your Grace Period

If you get in a car accident during your grace period, the coverage that applied to your old car will kick in for your new car. For instance, if you had State Farm insurance, that same policy will apply to your new car during this grace period. The comprehensive coverage and liability coverage limits that applied to your old car will apply to your new car

Traffic Offenses During Your Grace Period

Traffic offenses can lead to fines and higher future car insurance rates. This is still the case even if you’re driving during your grace period. You also might be in for a major headache. Getting pulled over and being unable to show proof of insurance could mean the state will reach out to your insurance company to check that you have an existing policy

After Your Grace Period: Why It’s a Bad Idea to Let Your Policy Lapse  

Letting your policy lapse can come with major consequences. If you get in an accident, you’ll have full financial responsibility for all liability and property damage. Additionally, Pennsylvania charges a minimum fine of $300 for driving without car insurance. Your driver’s license might also be suspended, meaning you’ll have to pay a restoration fee of $94. 

Once that 30-day grace period is up, you want to be sure you’re meeting Pennsylvania’s insurance requirements. While the state is made aware of any auto insurance coverage cancellations, they aren’t informed when new policies are purchased. It’s up to you to let the state know you have coverage once you’ve bought a new car

Prior Coverage vs. No Prior Coverage: The Data

When you go to buy car insurance, you’ll want to show proof of prior coverage. This tells the company that you’ve had car insurance before and haven’t faced a lapse in coverage. Lapses in coverage tend to lead to higher car insurance rates in the future, as companies may see you as a less responsible driver who is potentially more likely to file a claim.  

Prior coverage? Average rate (just liability coverage) Average rate (including collision and comprehensive)
Yes $103 $187
No $137 $259

 

As you can see in the table above, Pennsylvania drivers who can show proof of prior coverage have lower average car insurance rates. For just liability coverage, the rate is $34 less with prior coverage on average, while full coverage rates are $72 less if you have prior coverage. 

Other Tips to Lower Car Insurance Rates

The cost of car insurance can add up quickly. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re paying for only the insurance products you need. That might be full coverage that includes collision coverage and comprehensive coverage. You may even want to add uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Or it may be a leaner policy that just includes liability coverage

You can also raise your deductible to pay lower monthly premiums. While this adjustment can be helpful, one of the best ways to lower your premiums is to practice safe driving. Committing traffic offenses like DUIs is an easy way to become a high-risk driver—and potentially pay much more for car insurance

To get the right coverage at the right price, browse Insurify. With Insurify, you can compare car insurance quotes from a wide range of companies and zero in on the right one for you. Just answer a few questions about your driving history and vehicle, and then access a variety of quotes for a diverse array of insurance carriers. 

Stay Covered and Save on Your New Car Insurance Policy with Insurify 

While Pennsylvania drivers may have a small grace period to find car insurance, there’s no reason to wait. Get started on your car insurance search today with Insurify. Access dozens of free quotes from car insurance companies big and small—then purchase an auto insurance policy that works for your budget. 

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Pennsylvania New Car Insurance Grace Period: Quick Questions

Is there a grace period for paying for auto insurance in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania law does not require car insurance companies to offer a grace period for monthly car insurance payments. Ultimately, it depends on the car insurance company you’re working with. Most will allow you anywhere from 7 to 30 days after the due date to pay your car insurance payment.

Do I need car insurance before I buy a car in Pennsylvania?

In order to register your vehicle in Pennsylvania, you’ll need car insurance. This could mean adding a new car to an existing car insurance policy or buying a whole new policy. Either way, you’ll need to let the state know you’ve bought coverage in order to hit the road legally.

What are the penalties for driving without car insurance in Pennsylvania?

Uninsured motorists in Pennsylvania can face some serious penalties. These include a minimum fine of $300, as well as a three-month suspension of your license and vehicle registration. Restoring your license and registration will come with fees.

What is the best way to get car insurance if your policy has lapsed?

If your policy has lapsed, you’ll want to find new car insurance quickly. To compare quotes easily, try Insurify. Insurify is your one-stop shop for all of your quote-comparison needs. You won’t have to jump from site to site finding pricing information. With Insurify, all the quotes you need are in the one place, making it easier than ever to find coverage that works for you.

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Updated June 8, 2021

Mark Steinbach is a writer based in Brooklyn, NY. In addition to his years of work as a copywriter, he is also a TV writer with a degree in English from Harvard University. When he isn't writing, he can be found playing tennis or doing crossword puzzles.