Do you need insurance to drive a new car home?
Yes, if you’ve bought a new car, you’ll need to insure it before you drive it home.
You could take out an annual car insurance policy as soon as you buy the car. But if you need to return it for any reason, you might have to pay a cancellation fee to end that policy.
So temporary insurance can sometimes make more sense until you’re sure you’re keeping the car.
If you take out a temporary policy, once you're home, you’ll need to either take out an annual policy, extend your temporary insurance, or SORN your car until you’re ready to insure it.
If you’re not ready to commit to a full annual policy, and you need to drive your new car home, you have a few options:
If you’re driving straight home after a test drive, and the test drive insurance you took out for it is still active, you’ll be able to drive home under the same policy.
If you’re collecting the car later, you could get drive away insurance instead. This works in the same way as test drive insurance, and will cover you until you get your new car home.
What should I check on a test drive?
Once you’re insured, you’re ready for your test drive. But what should you be checking?
Here are a few things to keep your eye on:
VIN number: Always check the car’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) matches the VIN in the log book (V5C). If the numbers don’t match, it could mean the car has been stolen. You’ll typically find the VIN on the engine bay, around the trim on the front passenger/driver door or in the corner of the windscreen.
Central locking: Is the car’s locking function working correctly?
Headlights: Are both the dipped and full beam headlights working? What about the fog lights?
Tyres: Look at the tyres’ tread depth to see whether you’ll need to replace them straightaway. If you do, it’s worth asking the owner for some money off the asking price.
Undercarriage: Check the undercarriage to see if there are any signs of rust, as a rusted-out chassis can lead to an MOT failure.
Warning lights: Once you’ve got the car going, check to see if any dashboard warning lights are coming on.
Steering: How does the car handle around bends? If the car appears to veer to either the left or right, you may need to get the wheels realigned. Again, ask the owner if they’ll take the cost off the asking price if this is the case.
Acceleration: Pay attention to how the engine sounds and how the car generally feels when you accelerate. Is the engine power about what you were expecting?
Braking: If the car is taking longer than usual to slow when you brake, it could be a sign the brake pads are worn and need replacing. Check if the handbrake is working smoothly as well.
Odd noises Listen out for any unusual sounds from the car when you first switch on the engine and when you’re actually driving. Odd noises could be a sign that something is significantly wrong with the car.
Air con and heating You don’t want to find out that the heating isn’t working in the depth of winter, or that the air con has packed in on one of the hottest days of summer.
Electric windows: If the electric windows aren’t working properly, it could be due to an electrical fault, which could be pricey to repair.
Infotainment system: Don’t forget to check the infotainment system is working properly as these can be pricey to replace too.
What our expert says
If you’re test driving a car, you need insurance. Setting off without it could land you with points on your licence, a fine or worse. So it’s simply not worth the risk. Compare quotes now and we’ll find you cover in minutes, at a price that suits you.
Car insurance product manager
Other types of car insurance
Black box car insurance
lets you prove you’re a safe driver, and save money on your policy, even if you’re inexperienced or seen as high risk.
Learner driver car insurance
gives learners the protection to safely practice on the road.
Car insurance for 17-year olds
helps protect young drivers out on the road for the first time.
Test drive car insurance
find cover for as little as 1 hour all the way up to 28 days.
New driver insurance
for those who are new to driving or hold a provisional license.
Drive away insurance
for those looking for short-term cover when purchasing a new car.
Classic car insurance
offers cover for owners of classic cars. For insurance purposes, a classic car can be any car that’s older than 15 years.
Business car insurance
covers you if you use your car for work, including travelling between offices or across the country.
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Figuring out which level of cover suits you can be a headache. Here’s a quick rundown of the most common policy types and what they do.
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