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Discussion: Call an insurance company

in: Becks; Becks > 2011-08-05

Aug 5, 2011 8:15 PM # 
You need insurance to be able to drive the car anywhere (which is why DMV won't let you register it without). IIRC you have to arrange this before taking possession of the car. Since you're going to have to arrange insurance anyway, call an insurance company and ask them how it works when buying privately.

Car insurance is fairly expensive in New Haven, incidentally (we pay more than 3 times as much here as in Rochester, comfortably over $1000/yr, and most of that is not on insuring the car itself, but insuring you against liability for potentially being at fault in an accident).
Aug 5, 2011 8:18 PM # 
But the Insurance card has to have the car make and model on it. So we're supposed to give a person we don't know a large deposit, hang around until we get the insurance card, go to the DMV, and only then pay the rest and take the car? That seems retarded to me.

I'm tempted to go through a dealer just because then you don't have to give an unknown quantity a lot of money. But you get a lot less for your cash at a dealer for our budget I think.
Aug 5, 2011 8:21 PM # 
Insurance cards (at least renewals) can be printed off the web instantaneously, or if you go to an insurance agent, they can print you one on the spot.

Call an insurance company and ask them; they deal with the procedure all the time.
Aug 5, 2011 8:31 PM # 
Okay, that's very good to know. Any recommendations? I've had one for GEICO and one for State Farm. Yale apparently have some deals but I can't actually find them anywhere.
Aug 5, 2011 9:10 PM # 
We've used both of them and both seemed fine. Geico was cheaper for us
Aug 5, 2011 9:46 PM # 
Your local MVA page may have a "How-to" for buying and selling that explains things. Here is the Maryland one. A little obtuse. I suppose all the info is there. I'm pretty sure you'll have some grace period between the purchase date and getting the vehicle registered under your name - maybe 30 days - but you probably have to get a temporary registration and paper license plates to put in the windshield during that time.

The main thing is you have to be insured to drive that vehicle, and like the others have said, once you pay and the company confirms, you are insured even if you haven't had a chance to print or receive your card. In a pinch you could drive home in the car without that insurance card even though this is illegal, but carry the sale transaction info and the name and phone number of the insurance company and your policy number. If you are stopped by the police they can call the insurance company to confirm it. They'll likely do this even if you have the card because its possible to have the card without having paid (and thus be uninusred). Most companies send you the card when they bill you in advance, so you could have the card and never pay the bill. Most police will understand if you have the bill of sale showing today's date on it and explain that you just bought it as long as you are in-fact insured. Of course if you've been stopped its for some other reason and you're probably getting a ticket anyways :) Best to print the insurance card before you drive it.

So to drive the vehicle it has to have valid registration and tags, and *you* personally have to be insured to drive it.

Probably in this order:
1) buy the car - transfer title
2) you or seller notify MVA of the sale
3) get an insurance policy for yourself
3a) get temporary registration - seller keeps old plates and returns them to MVA
4) Bring insurance card and temporary tags to pick up car. drive the car home
5) go through the registration process to permanently register the car under your name and get permanent plates
Aug 5, 2011 10:29 PM # 
Alternately the seller could get the car inspected for you, in which case you could take that inspection certificate (valid 90 days) to get your permanent registration in one step before you take possession of the car. Indy sellers rarely do this because its usually a PITA and it costs money. May be a different process in CT.
Aug 5, 2011 10:45 PM # 
Another option would be for the seller to "deliver" the car to your location, complete the sale, then take his tags home with him. Then you do the paperwork to get your own tags while not driving the car anywhere. This only works if you park off the street on private property. You will be towed if its parked on a public street with no tags. However you will need (temporary) tags in order to get it inspected - they won't do an inspection without tags. And the car has to be insured by the current owner at all times (even when parked) or you'll be fined for the uninsured days. You should already have insurance at the point of sale no matter what.
Aug 5, 2011 10:57 PM # 
You might even be buying from a female...

This is what the CT DMV site says:

After purchasing you'll need to visit a DMV office with following documents:

The signed-over title.
A Bill of Sale.
A Connecticut Insurance Identification card.
A completed Application for Registration and Certificate of Title.
Proper identification.
Payment for $25 title fee.
Your new title will be sent within 45 days of your vehicle's registration.

This other part of the site is also pretty clear, or at least as clear as govt websites ever are. You need to decide to buy the car, get the VIN number, etc, details from the owner, get insurance and complete the sale, then take all those docs and a heap of ID to the DMV (in Hamden, where you can count Sox vs Yankies caps and see whether they sit next to each other) and get the registration transferred.
Aug 6, 2011 7:31 AM # 
When I did it, I bought from a guy at work and he came with me to the DMV office. I didn't need to do the inspection thing as it had been done in the previous year. According to shoe clone's list, you may not need to either.

Be aware of sales tax. You will either need to claim the car was a gift, or pay on registering the car. I ended up leaving the DMV 600$ the poorer with all the fees plus tax on a 6000$ car. The woman behind the desk was surprised I was paying the tax and offered to let me change the form...

Perhaps it's simpler with a local driver's licence, but I'd bring all your visa docs and passport and Yale ID just in case. Proper ID was the 6 point thing and I barely scraped it.

Changing the reg plates requires tools, possibly just a big screwdriver.
Aug 6, 2011 4:32 PM # 
When buying our last car, we went to a large dealership, Hoffman in Avon, after searching the web and getting quotes from various dealers. They came in much lower than others. As we do have existing insurance for a car and the house, that part was easy. But even easier here as they processed the entire thing there that afternoon, even new plates, registration, contacting insurance and working a cheap loan - ~1% or so. We drove home that afternoon all done. Most amazing car purchase I've done and may be worth the trip for you if they have something that might work.
Aug 6, 2011 4:57 PM # 
Thanks all for the advice! Unfortunately George there's not much within our price range at Hoffman, as that sounds like a far better way to do things!
Aug 6, 2011 5:44 PM # 
Oh, useful people of the internet! Opinions on leasing a car for someone planning to spend two more years in the country?
Aug 6, 2011 8:50 PM # 
price range... good luck
Aug 7, 2011 11:13 PM # 
The benefit of leasing is that you'll be paying somebody else to deal with:
- procurement
- (probably) maintenance
- (possibly) insurance
- collecting and selling the car when you're done with it
- financing such that you pay for the use of the car over the lifetime that you're exposed to it. (The main reason that private (as opposed to business-to-business) car leasing exists is that it's a really good way for manufacturers to shift their products onto consumers who might not otherwise be able to afford them.)

In a number of areas, you'd also expect to benefit from the company's (a) expertise in matters pertaining to cars in Connecticut and (b) purchasing power that reduces costs through economies of scale (for example, if they have a really good deal with local mechanics).

The disadvantage is that, over the lifetime of your investment, you'll probably be paying slightly over the expected costs of doing everything yourself because you're also paying for the running costs of the leasing company (salaries, office space and computer systems).

Paying for convenience may or may not be what you want to be doing. It's also worth being aware of...
- vehicle values (how the vehicle you lease, which will probably be new, compares to the vehicle you would be buying)
- residual values (how much money which party guarantees the other on the sale of the vehicle - this can work out being very good or very bad)
- usage limits (these aren't intrinsically bad things, just make sure you're aware of what the allowances are and what the costs of exceeding the allowances are, and that the allowances are similar to your expected use of a vehicle)
- gap insurance (if you write off the vehicle, who covers the value of (a) the vehicle and (b) the rest of the lease agreement, which is considered an asset by the accountants)
- any tax implications (this applies to buying too!)
- any conditions that make driving down muddy, overgrown tracks a bad idea.

Finally, there's another set of considerations for financing a purchase (as opposed to leasing the car), which are sometimes similar, sometimes different.

Feel free to get in touch if you want to ask more questions or send something my way for me to take a look at (from a financial/T+Cs perspective).
Aug 12, 2011 2:02 PM # 
I looked at leasing for one year when I lived in the US. It really isn't worth it unless you really want to be seen in a new car, there are so many sneaky extra charges. It's worth knowing that cars in the US seem to last longer in mileage and years than in the UK, I don't know why, maybe something to do with salt on the road. Anything inside 100000 miles / 10 years will probably be fine for another couple of years and still have non-trivial resale value.

And DMV are awful. These are the people who insisted on me not having line-of-sight to anyone I knew while taking the test. Obviously James (age 2) was a world expert on blood alcohol levels. They did seem quite mellow with me entrusting him to a complete stranger as long as she kept him out of my sight.
Aug 12, 2011 2:08 PM # 
Yeah, that's the conclusion we came to. We might have something sorted by the end of the weekend - hope so, I'm thoroughly sick of it now.
Aug 12, 2011 2:49 PM # 
Except the guy just pulled out saying he couldn't sort out his new car yet, would we still be interested in a few months?

AAARRGGGHHHH. I HATE THIS! Someone just give me a sodding car.
Aug 12, 2011 3:21 PM # 
A car didn't come with the cats?! ;)

Hang in there!
Aug 13, 2011 8:55 PM # 
Actually, we were thinking of throwing in the cats as a freebie to whoever bought the cars... too bad we didn't think that through a little better.

The used-car market is hot right now, at least in AZ, since people aren't so keen on buying new cars. Which makes it all the tougher to pick out the good cheap buys amongst all the Craigslist optins...

This discussion thread is closed.