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It can take several hours to get car insurance, but the specific time it takes varies depending on how quickly you need coverage, how you plan to buy a policy, your choice of insurance company, and other factors. Luckily, many auto insurance companies offer same-day coverage if you need an insurance policy fast.
This step-by-step guide will explain how long it takes to get car insurance and how to purchase a new policy quickly. We’ll also discuss pitfalls that can make getting auto insurance a longer process.
- Getting an auto insurance policy can take a few minutes to several hours.
- Having your personal and vehicle information ready can make comparing quotes and purchasing a new policy faster.
- How you apply for coverage, your driving record, vehicle type, and location could cause delays in getting same-day car insurance coverage.
Breaking Down How Long It Takes to Get an Auto Insurance Policy
Buying an insurance policy involves several steps, each with varying time frames. Here’s the breakdown of each step and an idea of how long it can take.
1. Research and shopping: A few minutes to several hours
If you have a specific insurance company in mind, it typically only takes a few minutes to get a free car insurance quote. But if you’re not sure or are looking for something specific — like the best deal on insurance coverage — it can take several hours to request quotes and compare coverage types and premiums.
2. Buying a policy: 15 minutes to 1 hour
Buying an auto insurance policy doesn’t usually take long, especially if you’ve already entered your personal and vehicle information to get a quote. You’ll complete the application once you’ve selected the car insurance quote that best fits your needs.
Your new insurer will run an insurance check to verify your claims and driving history. Keep in mind that your premium could change if the insurance check results don’t match what you entered into the quote tool.
Once you’re satisfied with the quote, you can finish the purchase — be prepared to make the first payment if you’re paying monthly or pay the full premium otherwise.
3. When your policy goes into effect: As soon as that day
Your car insurance policy can go into effect as soon as the day you buy coverage. Or you can choose a future start date if your current policy hasn’t expired. Just make sure you don’t cancel your previous policy until your new policy goes into effect to avoid a coverage lapse.
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Can You Get Car Insurance the Same Day?
Yes. Many insurance companies offer same-day coverage online, over the phone, or in a local office. The easiest way to get quick car insurance coverage is to have the necessary information ready to process the quote and application.
Companies offering same-day car insurance online
Not every insurance company offers same-day car insurance. The process can also vary among auto insurers, though the required information we mentioned earlier is usually the same.
If the insurer offers online car insurance quotes, there’s a good chance you can purchase same-day coverage. Here are some well-known car insurance companies offering same-day coverage online:
How to Get Car Insurance Quickly
The fastest way to get coverage — especially same-day car insurance — is to follow the steps outlined below.
1. Gather your personal information
The first step to quickly getting car insurance is gathering your personal information, including your:
- Full legal name
- Date of birth
- Marital status
- Home address
- Vehicle garaging address (if different from your home address)
- Driver’s license number
- Social Security number
You’ll also need all household members’ full names and dates of birth, plus driver’s license numbers if they’re licensed. And don’t forget the year, make, model, and vehicle identification numbers (VIN) for each car you’re insuring.
2. Understand how much coverage you need
Almost all states have coverage requirements each insurance policy must include. State laws can also determine your unique needs, like living in an at-fault or no-fault state. Beyond that, how much car insurance you need can vary.
It’s a good idea for your liability coverage limits to match or exceed your net worth. Paying more for higher liability limits can save you money if you end up causing a car accident with injuries and property damage.
If you have an older vehicle, liability-only insurance might be all you need. But if you have a new car, full coverage probably makes more sense (and is typically required for car loans and leased vehicles).
3. Do your research
Comparing car insurance companies can help you narrow your options for the following steps. Determining what’s important to you can also help, whether it’s customer service, the lowest rates, or the types of coverage options.
Check company reviews online to see what current and past customers say about each company. Third-party sources, like J.D. Power, can also provide insight into an insurer’s claims and customer service.
You can review an insurance company’s financial stability through AM Best, which provides a financial strength rating that shows its historical track record of paying insurance claims.
4. Gather quotes from multiple companies
Now that you know which companies provide what you’re looking for, it’s time to gather quotes. Comparing at least three quotes can help you find the best deal.
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5. Purchase your new policy
After you select the best quote, complete the application process to purchase your new car insurance policy.
6. Get your insurance cards and other policy documents
After you buy your new policy, save or print your insurance card. It provides proof of insurance, which you must have if you’re in an accident or if you get pulled over. It’s also a good idea to save a copy of your policy.
Why It Might Take Longer to Get Car Insurance
Even if you have all your personal details and required information ready, you might experience a delay in getting car insurance. Here are some reasons it might take longer to get covered.
Your application method
The best way to get coverage fast is to apply online and buy from a company offering same-day policies. If you call to get a quote or use a local agent, getting the quote and finalizing the application can take longer. An incomplete application can also prevent you from getting immediate coverage.
Your driving record
If you have a complex driving history or previous car insurance claims — especially open claims — it could also delay the process. Your application may have to go to an underwriter or undergo further verification before approval. Your driving record could also lead to an insurance denial during the quote or application process.
The type of vehicle you drive can also slow down the process. Specialty vehicles, like classic or exotic cars, often require a full underwriting process, which can include:
- A deeper look at the company’s guidelines
- Requests for more detailed information, like credit or motor vehicle reports and a vehicle inspection
- An analysis of your requested coverages to determine if modifications are needed
Your ZIP code is one factor that determines your insurance rates and eligibility. Your insurance coverages must meet or exceed your state’s car insurance requirements. Requesting lower coverage than that can prevent your application from being processed.
The insurer might also need to verify your new address if you recently moved.
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FAQs About Getting Car Insurance Fast
We answered some common questions about getting the best car insurance fast.
How fast can you get a car insurance policy?
In most cases, you can get a car insurance policy the same day you request a quote. Getting an insurance quote and completing the application online is the best way to get fast insurance coverage. Many of the best auto insurance companies offer same-day policies.
Does car insurance go into effect immediately?
It depends. You can choose for your policy to start right away or pick a later date if you don’t need it to go into effect immediately. If you need your coverage to start immediately, make sure you can provide as much information as possible when you get the quote to speed up the application process and get same-day coverage.
What’s the fastest way to get car insurance?
The fastest way to get car insurance is to get a quote and complete the application online. Most insurance companies offering online quotes will autofill the information you provided into the application, speeding up the process. After you complete the application, you just need to make your down payment, and you’ll be covered.
How long do you have to get insurance on a new car?
How long you have to insure a new vehicle depends on where you buy it and if you have an existing car insurance policy. Most insurers offer a grace period to cover a new purchase, though the time frame can vary. You can’t drive the car until you have insurance coverage.
The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research, “Six Steps of the Underwriting Process,” Accessed November 22, 2023.
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