How Long Does It Take to Get Car Insurance?

You can have a new car insurance policy within minutes of receiving a quote.

Daria Kelly Uhlig
Daria Kelly Uhlig
  • Licensed Realtor with 10+ years in personal finance content

  • Contributor to Nasdaq and USA Today

Daria is a licensed Realtor and resort property manager specializing in personal finance, real estate, and insurance topics. In her spare time, she practices photography.

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Katie Powers
Edited byKatie Powers
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Katie PowersAuto and Life Insurance Editor
  • Licensed auto and home insurance agent

  • 3+ years experience in insurance and personal finance editing

Katie uses her knowledge and expertise as a licensed property and casualty agent in Massachusetts to help readers understand the complexities of insurance shopping.

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Mark Friedlander
Reviewed byMark Friedlander
Mark Friedlander
Mark FriedlanderDirector, Corporate Communications
  • Corporate communications director for Insurance Information Institute

  • 20+ years in insurance and communications

As Director, Corporate Communications for Triple-I, Mark serves as the non-profit’s national spokesperson, sharing information and education on a wide array of insurance issues.

Updated November 6, 2023 at 11:00 AM PST

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Securing a cheap car insurance policy can take between a few minutes and a few days, depending on how you shop for and purchase your policy. If you need car insurance quickly, you can take steps to speed up the process. You never want to experience a lapse in insurance coverage, so you should always make sure you have car insurance in place.

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How long it takes to get car insurance

If you already know which car insurance company you want to buy coverage from, the fastest way to get an auto insurance policy is to request a quote on the insurance company’s website and then buy the policy.

You have a lot to consider when you’re buying insurance, so you should take some time to shop around if possible. To find the cheapest rates for your coverage needs, you should compare quotes from multiple insurers. You may even want to work with an insurance agent to discuss your options, though that process can take a few days.

Here are some of the factors that determine how long it takes to get insurance:

  • How you apply: Getting rates from a quote-comparison site is faster than visiting multiple sites because you only need to enter your information once. Requesting a quote from a company’s website may take longer if you have to wait for an insurance agent to contact you. Contacting an agent on your own also takes time if you have to schedule a phone call or an in-person meeting.

  • How thorough you are in providing information: Insurers need personal information and details about your car and where you park it before issuing a policy. Avoid unnecessary delays by having your driver’s license number and the vehicle’s make, model, year, and vehicle identification number (VIN) on hand when you apply.[1]

  • Red flags on your driving record: If you have past incidents on your driving record, the insurer may want to take a closer look at your application.

  • The type and value of the vehicle you’re insuring: Some vehicles are more difficult to insure due to added risks. For example, many insurers have stopped writing new policies for some Hyundai and Kia vehicles due to their vulnerability to theft.[2]

Why you might need car insurance fast

In other situations, you don’t have much time to buy auto coverage, like if you’re about to purchase a vehicle. You’ll need proof of insurance to drive the car off the lot. That’s not a problem if you already have car insurance for another vehicle and have a grace period to add the new car to that policy. Otherwise, you’ll need to get coverage right away.

You’ll also need insurance fast if your insurer canceled your policy for non-payment or you have a coverage lapse for another reason. If this happens, you should contact your insurer to discuss your options for renewing or reinstating your previous policy.[3] If the company declines to offer you coverage, you’ll have to purchase new insurance before you drive your car.

Can you get same-day car insurance?

Yes. You can get same-day insurance coverage by comparing online quotes, selecting your coverage, and purchasing the policy.

Traditional insurers, like State Farm, can typically provide same-day coverage if you have all the information the company needs to write your policy. Insurtech direct writers (online-only companies), like Hugo, can also provide same-day policies. Hugo offers on-demand coverage that you can set up in as little as six minutes via their websites.

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How to get car insurance fast

It’s easy to get car insurance fast if you know the steps to take.

1. Decide how much coverage you need

Most states require drivers to purchase a minimum amount of liability coverage to drive legally. If you finance or lease your car, your auto lender or dealer may require you to purchase collision and comprehensive coverage.

Even if not required, you should consider buying collision and comprehensive coverage if you drive frequently, live in an area with congested roads, park your car in a location vulnerable to vandalism or theft, or drive a new or high-value vehicle.[4]

2. Gather all your information

You’ll need the following information to get a quote and apply for car insurance coverage:

  • Vehicle make, model, year, and VIN

  • Number of miles driven each year

  • Where you live and the location where the car will be parked

  • Amount of liability coverage needed to protect your assets

  • Desired deductible

  • Number of drivers in your household

  • Age, birthdates, driver's license numbers, driving history, driving courses completed, and discount eligibility for each household driver

  • A copy of your current policy’s declarations page, if applicable

3. Compare multiple quotes

You can shop for car insurance by visiting insurance company websites one at a time to request quotes. But it’s typically easier to use a quote-comparison site, which lets you fill out one request form to get quotes from several different auto insurance companies at once.

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4. Complete an application

Once you’ve found the best coverage option for your insurance needs, you can use the information you gathered in the second step to complete the application process.

5. Finalize your purchase

If you have questions about the policy you’re about to purchase, reach out to an agent or broker before you buy it. Otherwise, you can enter your payment method and submit the application to complete your purchase. Then print your insurance cards and store one in the vehicle.

Car insurance buying options

Whether you prefer to shop for insurance on your own or want some assistance, insurance companies typically have a few buying options you can feel comfortable with.

Buy online

Buying insurance online is quick and easy, and you can do it on any web browser or even a mobile app. If you run into any issues during the process, you’ll unfortunately have to stop to call or message for help from a customer service representative or insurance agent.

Purchase with a mobile app

Mobile apps allow you to easily purchase insurance on the go. You can even secure coverage on your phone while you’re purchasing a car at a dealership. However, you’ll have to download an app to apply this way, and filling out forms on a small screen can feel difficult for people who prefer larger screens.

Talk to an agent

Purchasing insurance through an agent is probably the most time-consuming option. But for some people, especially first-time insurance customers, it’s a good idea to discuss your needs with a professional.

Good to Know

Captive agents exclusively represent one company, such as State Farm, Allstate, and Farmers. Independent agents represent numerous insurers and can obtain multiple quotes simultaneously. You can also work with an online insurance broker, like Insurify, which works with multiple insurance companies and is licensed in every state.

Buying car insurance FAQs

Finding the right amount of car insurance from a company you trust is crucial. Make sure you understand what coverage you’re buying before you make a purchase.

  • How long does it take to get a car insurance quote?

    It depends on how you request a quote. It can take a few minutes if you request a quote online, and you can make the process even more efficient by comparing quotes from multiple insurers on a comparison site. Requesting a quote from an agent can take more time, but it also makes it easier to ask questions and receive guidance from a licensed insurance professional.

  • Does car insurance take effect immediately?

    It can. Nationwide, for example, has an instant purchase option that begins as soon as you’ve selected the policy and payment method. Hugo also issues policies instantly. You can typically also select a future date with your insurance company for your coverage to begin.

  • How much car insurance do you need?

    It’s important to meet your state’s minimum liability insurance requirements, but you may also want to protect your assets if you’re sued after an accident and cover the cost of repair or replacement of your car. For that level of coverage, you’ll need to purchase a higher level of liability coverage, as well as collision and comprehensive coverages.

  • What is proof of coverage, and how do you get it?

    Proof of coverage is documentation that shows you have an active car insurance policy. Your policy's declarations page has more information about your current policy than an insurance card has because it includes policy limits. You might need proof of coverage when setting up an auto loan or lease.

Sources

  1. Insurance Information Institute. "What information do I need to give to my agent or company?." Accessed August 25, 2023
  2. Kelley Blue Book. "Reports: Some Insurance Companies Turning Away Hyundai, Kia Owners Over Thefts." Accessed August 25, 2023
  3. Insurance Information Institute. "What's the difference between cancellation and nonrenewal?." Accessed August 25, 2023
  4. Insurance Information Institute. "8 questions to ask before buying auto insurance." Accessed August 25, 2023
Daria Kelly Uhlig
Daria Kelly Uhlig

Daria Uhlig is a freelance writer and editor with over a decade of experience creating personal finance content. Her work appears on USA Today, Nasdaq, MSN, Yahoo Finance, Fox Business, GOBankingRates and AOL. As a licensed Realtor and resort property manager, she specializes in real estate topics, including landlord, homeowners and renters insurance. In her spare time, Daria can be found photographing people and places on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Katie Powers
Edited byKatie PowersAuto and Life Insurance Editor
Photo of an Insurify author
Katie PowersAuto and Life Insurance Editor
  • Licensed auto and home insurance agent

  • 3+ years experience in insurance and personal finance editing

Katie uses her knowledge and expertise as a licensed property and casualty agent in Massachusetts to help readers understand the complexities of insurance shopping.

Featured in

media logomedia logo
Mark Friedlander
Reviewed byMark FriedlanderDirector, Corporate Communications
Mark Friedlander
Mark FriedlanderDirector, Corporate Communications
  • Corporate communications director for Insurance Information Institute

  • 20+ years in insurance and communications

As Director, Corporate Communications for Triple-I, Mark serves as the non-profit’s national spokesperson, sharing information and education on a wide array of insurance issues.

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