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How long does it take to get car insurance?

It can take 15 minutes or a few hours to apply for car insurance, and you don’t need to wait long for your policy to start — it can begin the same day you buy it.

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By

Andrew HurstAndrew HurstSenior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance ExpertAndrew Hurst is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. His work has also been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, NPR, Mic, Insurance Business Magazine, ValuePenguin, and Property Casualty 360.

Edited by

Anna SwartzAnna SwartzSenior Managing Editor & Auto Insurance ExpertAnna Swartz is a senior managing editor and auto insurance expert at Policygenius, where she oversees our car insurance coverage. Previously, she was a senior staff writer at Mic.com, as well as an associate writer at The Dodo.
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Reviewed by

Angele DoakesAngele DoakesLicensed Property & Casualty ExpertAngele Doakes is a licensed home, auto, life, and health insurance expert and a operations manager at Policygenius. Previously, she was a field sales leader at Allstate.

Updated|3 min read

Expert reviewedExpert reviewedThis article has been reviewed by a member of ourFinancial Review Council to ensure all sources, statistics, and claims meet the highest standard for accurate and unbiased advice.Learn more about oureditorial review process.

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s long as you have the right information at the ready, buying car insurance can take as little as 15 minutes. Unlike other types of insurance, there’s no waiting period, your car insurance policy can even start the same day if you want.

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Shopping for car insurance online is usually the fastest way to do it, especially if you already know how much coverage you need. Once you enter your information and get quotes, comparing your options and choosing the right car insurance policy for you can take just a few minutes

Key takeaways

  • Most car insurance companies can start your coverage the same day you apply for car insurance.

  • Applying for car insurance can take 15 minutes and can be done over the phone or online with many insurers or agents.

  • To speed things up with the car insurance buying process, figure out how much coverage you need before you shop and have all your personal information ready, like your driver’s license and vehicle identification number (VIN)

How long it takes to get car insurance: A breakdown

It will probably take most drivers at least 15 minutes to get car insurance, so it’s a good idea to budget more time in case it takes longer, especially if you haven’t already researched coverage limits and company reviews.

  1. Preparing personal information (5 minutes) You should have any necessary personal information with you when you start shopping like your driver’s license number or your car’s VIN number.

  2. Choosing your coverage limits (2 minutes or longer) This step is the most likely to slow down people who aren’t familiar with car insurance. Before you can estimate how much coverage you need, you may have to research the parts of a car insurance policy and what they cover.

  3. Collecting quotes (3 minutes or longer) Once you’ve got everything you need you can use an online marketplace to get multiple quotes at once. You’ll just need to enter information about you, your car, and any other drivers on your policy and you’ll see quotes from a few different insurers

  4. Researching car insurance companies (3 minutes per company) Once you’ve got some quotes to choose from, you can look up each company to narrow down your list and choose the one that best combines low rates and great service.

  5. Finalizing your policy (1 to 2 minutes) This part’s easy. All you have to do is pick the best option from the quotes you’ve gotten, submit any other documentation the company needs, choose a start date, and make your first payment.

What you need to get car insurance quickly

You can get car insurance in just a few minutes if you have everything you need before you start shopping. That includes:

  • Names of all drivers

  • Dates of birth for all drivers

  • Driver's license numbers for all drivers

  • Social Security numbers for all drivers

  • VINs (Vehicle Information Numbers) for all vehicles

  • Your address and the address where the car is kept

  • An estimation for how many miles you drive per year

  • Your declarations page from your most recent prior car insurance policy

  • Your declarations page from your most recent prior car insurance policy

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How long does it take to get a car insured?

Unlike health and life insurance, which have enrollment periods or weeks-long underwriting periods, most auto insurance companies have short applications, and policies can go into effect immediately. 

Once you decide on a car insurance company, you will be able to select the day you want your coverage to start. Most companies allow you to get covered the same day, so there’s no wait between shopping and getting coverage.

But it might be worth it to shop well ahead of when you want your policy to start. Some companies offer insurance discounts to drivers who sign up for coverage at least a week before their policy’s start date. If you’re switching policies, start your shopping early so you can pick a new company well in advance of the end date of your current policy.

Should you take more time getting car insurance?

Some drivers may need to spend more time getting car insurance, especially drivers who need specialty policies. This includes rideshare drivers, high-risk drivers, or people with a classic or collector’s car that may need to be appraised, or a recreational vehicle.

How to get car insurance quickly

Getting car insurance is already a pretty speedy process, but there are some things you can do to prepare that will help make sure you get your vehicle insured as quickly as possible.

Here are some tips for getting auto insurance even faster:

1. Understand how much coverage you need

Figuring out how much minimum car insurance coverage your state requires is a good starting place when applying for insurance. But, in order to choose the right amount of coverage for you, you’ll want to consider other factors like where you live, or how much you’d be prepared to pay out of pocket if you were to exceed your coverage limit.

2. Have all your personal information ready before you start the process

Make sure you’ve got all the necessary info for all the drivers who will be included on the policy. And make sure you have your car insurance declarations page from your most recent policy. That declaration page lists the limits you were covered for under your previous policy, and shows that you didn't have any lapses in coverage.

3. Get to know the companies

The best way to get a better understanding of your insurance options is to read company reviews, like our list of the top car insurance companies. You should be able to understand which company’s customer service, coverage options, and discounts are right for you.

4. Get as many quotes as you can at once

By getting your quotes all at once, you’ll save yourself the time of filling out the same information multiple times. Instead, when you compare quotes online you can get all of your options and see right away which company offers you the best coverage at the lowest rates.

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Frequently asked questions

How long does it take to get added to car insurance?

With most major insurers, adding a new driver to your existing car insurance policy can be done in an afternoon. All you have to do is contact your insurance company, online or over the phone, and provide some basic information about the new driver you’d like to add, including their age, birthday and driver’s license number.

How many days to get car insurance after you buy it?

It takes much less than a day to get car insurance. Your car insurance goes into effect as soon as you buy it. That’s because there’s no waiting period associated with car insurance, unlike other types of insurance coverage.

Can I get insurance the same day as an accident?

You can buy insurance the same day as an accident, but it’s not going to cover any damage that happened before your purchase. If you get into an accident without car insurance, you would be liable for the damage yourself. But once you do apply for insurance, you can get it the same day you apply.

How long after buying a car do I need insurance?

If you have an existing policy, you don’t have to get new car insurance right away. Companies have their own grace periods for updating a new vehicle’s insurance. However, if you don’t have coverage you’ll have to get car insurance before you drive off the lot. Fortunately, you can get covered instantly with most companies.

Can I drive a car I just bought without insurance?

It’s illegal to drive a car without car insurance in most states and in the two that don’t require you to have it, you’re still financially responsible for any damage you cause, so you should get car insurance before you take your new car home.

Author

Andrew Hurst is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. His work has also been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, NPR, Mic, Insurance Business Magazine, ValuePenguin, and Property Casualty 360.

Editor

Anna Swartz is a senior managing editor and auto insurance expert at Policygenius, where she oversees our car insurance coverage. Previously, she was a senior staff writer at Mic.com, as well as an associate writer at The Dodo.

Expert reviewer

Angele Doakes is a licensed home, auto, life, and health insurance expert and a operations manager at Policygenius. Previously, she was a field sales leader at Allstate.

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