Buying a new or new-to-you car and car insurance is a landmark event, but there are still some loose ends to tie up. Some of the tasks are necessary to legally drive your vehicle, and others are important to maintain that legal status and keep your car on the road. Here are the most important things to do once you’ve purchased your car insurance.
1. Gather your paperwork
You need your bill of sale and title or lien agreement at a minimum before you move any further. The bill of sale and title come from the car lot or individual that sold you the car. If you are financing your vehicle, you also need the lien agreement from your lender. Some states require a property tax assessment, proof of residence, or proof of inspection before you can register. So, call your Department of Motor Vehicles or check the state website to verify requirements.
2. Get connected
You must register your car after buying car insurance. Registration connects you as the owner to your vehicle in the state’s records for property taxes and also crime detection. It is managed by the Department of Motor Vehicles or similarly named agency, depending on the state. When you register your car after buying car insurance, you can also get your license plate. Fees for registration and tags vary by state.
Once you have your proof of registration and tags in hand, put the license plate on your vehicle. Affix the sticker showing registration expiration date to the tags. Then, sign the back of your registration, and put it in your glove box. That way, your proof of registration is always near if you should be pulled over. Registration renewals are usually done annually, and you get a new sticker for your tags after you pay the fee.
3. Plan for car insurance payments and renewals
All this work will be for naught if you allow your car insurance to lapse. Plan ahead for making your monthly insurance payments and annual renewals. This planning goes beyond including car insurance into your personal budget. It includes actually making the payments.
Some people prefer to automate their bill paying. This works great for those with a little surplus in the bank and little danger of an automatic draft creating an overdraft fee. Simply set up an autopayment plan with your insurance provider, and you won’t have to worry about missing a beat.
Other people prefer a more hands-on approach to keeping payments up after buying car insurance. This could be from some distrust of technology or simply wanting more control over the timing of payments. Here, it’s necessary to set up billing that best fits your needs. Paperless email notices are a green method of billing, but you might prefer old-school mailed bills. Choose the method in which you know you will see the billings, so all that’s left is remembering to pay.
Google calendars or pocket calendars are a couple of simple ways to keep track of the car insurance bills that are due. You could also enable phone notifications about your upcoming bills. Or, maybe you have a particular day of the month in which you always sit down to pay your bills. Find what works.