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byAngele Doakes - Licensed Property & Casualty Broker
Angele Doakes - Licensed Property & Casualty Broker
Operations Sales Manager, Property & Casualty
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.
Ready to shop car insurance?
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?
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)
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.
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
Ready to shop car insurance?
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.