Q

How long does it take to get car insurance?

A

Once you apply for car insurance you can get a policy very quickly. If you come prepared, you can even get it that same day.

Anna Swartz 1600Stephanie Nieves author photo

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Anna Swartz

Anna Swartz

Insurance Expert

Anna Swartz is a Managing Editor at Policygenius, specializing in auto insurance. Her work has appeared in Mic, The Dodo, AOL, MSN, HuffPost, Salon and Heeb.

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Stephanie Nieves

Stephanie Nieves

Property and Casualty Insurance Expert

Stephanie Nieves is an insurance editor at Policygenius in New York City, specializing in home and auto insurance. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, PayScale, Fairygodboss, and The Muse.

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Angele Doakes - Licensed Property & Casualty Broker

Angele Doakes - Licensed Property & Casualty Broker

Operations Sales Manager, Property & Casualty

Angele Doakes is a property and casualty operations sales manager at Policygenius in Durham, North Carolina. She's worked in the insurance industry for five years, and enjoys educating shoppers about a topic that's so important but sometimes difficult for people to understand. She is licensed to sell property and casualty insurance as well as life and health insurance.

Updated March 22, 2021|3 min read

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No matter where you live in the U.S., your state probably has some form of minimum requirements for auto insurance coverage, which means millions of Americans need car insurance. Even if your state doesn’t specifically require auto insurance, you’re still financially responsible for any costs you might incur from hurting someone or damaging property with your car. The best way to prepare for that is, well, getting car insurance.

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Whether you’re a new driver getting coverage for the first time or you’re looking to switch auto insurance providers, you’ve probably already realized there are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to choosing the right car insurance for you. But you may also be wondering, how long does it take to sign up, and how soon can you and your car get covered?

Key Takeaways

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

  • Applying for car insurance can take less than 20 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)

Set aside some time to shop around for quotes

The first step in getting car insurance is shopping around for quotes, to make sure that you’re getting the best policy to fit your needs and the best price to fit your budget. You’ll want to get multiple quotes so you can compare prices, but price isn’t everything.

Also check out factors like the insurer’s J.D. Power rating, and do a quick scan of online reviews to make sure there don’t seem to be a lot of complaints. You can get quotes from insurance companies one-by-one, or you can use an independent agency like Policygenius to compare quotes from multiple companies at once. 

How long does it take to apply for car insurance?

Actually applying for car insurance is a pretty quick process. Unlike health insurance, which usually has a specific enrollment period, or life insurance, which often has an underwriting period that can take weeks, applying for auto insurance can usually be done in around 20 minutes.

When you’re applying for car insurance, be sure to have this information at the ready:

  • 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

  • An address for the insured (where you live and where the car is garaged, which is usually the same place)

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

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How soon does my car insurance start?

You won’t have to wait long between applying for car insurance and having an insured vehicle. In many cases, a policy can be issued the same day you apply. Now, all you have to do is keep paying your car insurance premiums each policy period to ensure your insurance is in force.

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 declarations page (sometimes called a dec page) will have a lot of the other information you’ll need to apply for car insurance. It will also show your new provider the limits you were covered for under your previous policy, and that you didn't have any lapse in coverage.

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.

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.

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.

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