this is a subject that is not very exciting for me who am not a fan of cars, speed or motorsport (the opposite of my husband in summary !!) but in the country of Uncle Sam, he is clearly inconceivable to live there without a 4-wheeled vehicle. After my article on how to rent a car in the US, I'm just going to give you a little sketch from our own experience of the past few days on how to buy and insure a car in the USA, and finally in our case for Florida.
Regarding the purchase, this is of course the easiest phase especially that everyone will not have the same needs, the same tastes and especially the same financial means ($$$) to spend on this purchase . With my husband specialized in the subject "automobile" at my side, it is clearly he who took the orders to decide which model we were going to buy. We did discuss it together, as our research progressed, to gradually refine our choice of model. But first where to buy?
Just like Europe, you can buy from an individual or from a professional reseller (which you will find on major classified ads websites like Craigslist, cars.com, autotrader.com or any other online website specialized in car selling ). My husband had decided on the question, considering that there were too many pitfalls to avoid on a purchase with from an individual, but also because of the heavier administrative procedures to do this with an individual (such as going with the owner to your personal insurer and verify that the car in question is insurable!). Note that all ad sites recommend a certain caution if you’ve decided to meet an individual for a purchase ... Do not fall into psychosis but it is good to remain lucid ( We spotted an ad for a new Ford Mustang for less than $ 10,000, it was clearly a scam !!). If you’ve decided to buy from an individual then you have to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in order to register the car in your name (Registration) and to obtain the "title" deed of your future acquisition.
How did it go for us to buy a car in the USA?
In the simplest way, the choice was just difficult to make until the end! Let me explain. After surfing a few hours on the web, my husband has drawn up a list of cars to see on the garages in Orlando and its surroundings. I was able to eliminate Dodge Challenger and other Chevrolet Camaro from the very beginning, my husband's arguments not being long compared to my own with a reasonable budget and 2 children ... Having agreed (reluctantly for my husband) to giving up sports cars, so we went to 4 × 4 standard size, not to say small in the US. I also talk about it in my article on driving a car in the USA, you must know that Americans are (very) big rollers and they change vehicles regularly. Kilometers, or rather "mileages" here since we are in miles, are quite high on many used cars. Our budget of around $ 10,000 allowed us to select "classic" road cars that had between 50,000 and 100,000 miles (a range of between 80,000 and 160,000 km!), But here we consider that a car that has 90,000 miles has average mileage! The 4 × 4 are almost all around 100,000 miles for this rate. It should also be noted that American engines are mostly V6 or V8, so with capacity to cash more kilometers than traditional 4 cylinders more common in Europe. If it shows that my husband helped me write this article, you tell me! ????
Visit after visit, no crush, no 4 × 4 in our tastes with less than 100,000 miles ... So we started to look at family cars (Dodge Gran Caravan, Honda Odyssee and Chrysler Town & Country are the current best sellers US market). It must be admitted that these vehicles have little charm outside but are very practical inside, and with 2 children in our case, the question really arose at a time to invest in this category of vehicle. And suddenly, almost by chance, we passed a garage Ford north of Orlando which had a fairly large used park on its parking lot. A visit was necessary. After explaining to the seller our search criteria (including finding a 7-seater car to bring friends or family members to Florida), he drove us to a Ford Explorer with less than 80,000 miles on the clock. My husband having taken the wheel, with me installed in the back with the children, the salesman had little work to do to convince us that it was the car we were looking for. So we completed our purchase the same evening!
The purchase from a professional is much simpler than with a private owner since you have almost nothing to do, they take care of everything! Of course you have to cut a cheque ... In our case: $ 50 County Tax, $ 49 Service Fee, $ 600 Sales Tax (the average sales tax is 6 to 6.5% of the value of the vehicle opportunity to add) and finally $ 400 Florida Title, registration and license fees (the equivalent of the establishment of the registration card in Europe). In total a $ 1100 to add to our purchase!
For this price we had the smile of the seller but not only: It is essential to be able to check the history of your future car and for that, everything is recorded in a national database called Carfax. You can check if your vehicle has undergone repairs, accidents, the number of owners ... A real health book of the car. The "clean title" will also allow you to check if it is not seized by a creditor or if it has not had a serious problem in the past, just like a "salvage title" that would mean that it was heavily damaged. To access your Carfax, it is imperative to know the serial number of the car, called VIN Number. Garages provide them without any worries when they are serious.
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Insuring the car in the USA!
The order form for the Ford Explorer is signed, it's good, but now we have to ensure it! And here we come to the heart of the subject because ... it's a big issue! Forget everything you know about insurance in Europe, it has nothing to do with the United States. I can extend this remark to health insurance ...
When you arrive to USA, you have no credit history, they don’t know who you are, so you will pay the high price ... Only once will your insurer get to know you better, that the months will pass without accidents, then he will begin to revise his tariffs for you. In order to be very competitive and not to scare you, US insurers are starting to make a quote for a minimum insurance which covers you for ... almost nothing!
The theoretical obligation to insure and the high tariffs imposed by the insurers will push some people to drive with a minimum insurance, and this is very risky. Also note that the lack of roadside checks in the US also makes many Americans drive without insurance, and if you have an accident with someone who is not insured, it's up to you to have taken the necessary steps with your insurer for your material and bodily compensation (Welcome to the 4th dimension!). To set up your insurance in Florida, it is imperative to have your international license established beforehand. Driving only with the European license or the international license beyond 3 months (When you are a US residents) will take you straight to the court in case of control since you will be considered "without a license". The passage through the DMV is therefore mandatory to obtain the Florida license.
Without going into too many technical details, we have found that once again, the US insurance system is made of cursors: we make the choice to make sure on one thing, but not another. We increase the guarantee on that and we lower it on that ... etc. For example in our case for the car, the initial quote was this way:
- Bodily Injury Liability: $ 10,000 each person, $ 20,000 each accident.
This is the amount of repairs that will be supported by the insurer to the maximum, beyond it is your responsibility. With a ceiling of $ 10,000, I advise you to avoid collision with the latest Ferrari at the moment...
- Personal Injury Protection: $ 10,000
This is the maximum amount that will be covered by the insurance in case of care or hospitalization expenses if you need it.
In summary, any insurer in the US will generally be able to offer 3 types of contracts: Basic insurance (with very low amounts of reimbursement) to deal with bodily injury to a third party, property damage or damage caused by an uninsured or hit and run driver (Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury Liability). The standard insurance (which will be an improved version of the basic) offers identical coverage but with ceilings 4 to 5 higher. It is usually supplemented with an additional guarantee for bodily injury to the driver and his passengers (Medical Payments). Finally, the improved or Premium coverage, which always uses the same system but with ceilings that will deal with all types of unforeseen (or almost!) With covers between $ 100,000 and $ 300,000 for the body and up to to $ 100,000 for the equipment.
In the end and after getting several quotes (Auto Insurance Quote) from various insurers, we ended up choosing a company next to Miami (the cheapest simply!). He offered us a good price, it’s very high compared to Europe but unfortunately we have not much choice ... We are obliged to bend to the US pricing which is not very affordable for expats like us. We opted for an Optimized Standard Insurance (less than Premium) with an average coverage of $ 100,000 on the examples mentioned above in the event of an accident. The acceptance of the conditions of insurance was done entirely by Internet, thanks to a system well established in which your electronic signature is accepted. We were then able to print our personalized insurance card to show it to our car salesman. You have to know that a showroom in the US will not let you go with the car purchased if you do not provide proof that you are well insured and that you are the holder of the driving license! In a few weeks (when we will have a fixed address), we will be able to have our Florida permits and we will contact the insurance again to review the proposed rates down!
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