Updated August 12, 2019

How Long Does it Take to Get Car Insurance

Read more about Car Insurance

Can you get car insurance on the same day? We'll show the answer plus how long it takes to get the card/proof of insurance.

Unlike with other types of insurance, buying auto coverage is a quick, simple process. You can be insured in a matter of minutes.

It's important to start by comparing quotes to find the right coverage for your needs. When you're ready to buy, there are a few options for securing coverage.

No matter which you choose, you'll need to have the following information handy:

  • Personal information including names, dates of birth, driver's licenses, and social security numbers for ALL drivers under the policy

  • Address where the car will be housed (usually your address)

  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) for all vehicles under the policy

  • Policy and deductible limits for the coverages you want

    Most states require drivers to carry a minimum amount of certain types of coverage. But that may not be enough for your needs. To learn more about choosing the right coverage, check out our by coverage guide.

  • Desired payment method including bank account information, a credit card number, or personal check

Keep reading to learn more about the ways you can purchase auto insurance.

Ways to Purchase Car Insurance

Auto insurers offer three ways to purchase coverage: online (or through an app), by phone or in person. The one you choose depends on personal preference. Keep reading to learn more.

How to Buy Online

This is typically the fastest way to get coverage. If you know the coverages you're looking for, you can buy a policy in about 20 minutes.

  1. Start by entering the required information to obtain a quote.

  2. Next, you'll need to determine your coverage and deductible levels. Most online platforms let you experiment with different coverages and deductible levels.

  3. Once you've found the right level of coverage, you can usually buy the policy directly online. Otherwise, a company representative will contact you to complete the transaction.

  4. To activate your policy, you'll need to make a payment. This might be the first month's premium or the entire balance for the 6-12-month term.

Many of the largest auto insurers now have a mobile app you can use to purchase your policy. And some companies, like Lemonade, only handle transactions through an app.

How to Buy By Phone

Buying car insurance over the phone usually takes anywhere between 15-20 minutes. It's a great option if you're confused about coverages or just have a few questions.

Instead of entering your information online, a representative will help you determine the best coverages and limits for your needs. They'll also look for discounts that may lower your rates.

Most insurance companies offer a discount for paying your policy in full. You might also get a discount for enrolling in automatic payments online.

Choose the day of the month and your premium will be deducted from your account or charged to a credit card.

How to Buy in-Person

If you're the old-fashioned sort who wants to look someone in the eyes before making a deal, you can meet with an agent to buy your car insurance.

This meeting usually takes about 45 minutes, though it may take a few days, or even longer, to schedule your appointment.

The agent will ask questions to find the best coverage fit. They'll also complete the paperwork, leaving you to simply sign the forms and make your first payment.

Bring a copy of your existing policy (if you have one) to the meeting. This will help the insurance agent create an accurate comparison quote.

Can you get car insurance on the same day?
Buying auto insurance only takes a few minutes. Once you complete the paperwork and make your first payment, your coverage is active. Keep reading to learn more.

How Long When Buying a New Car?

Most states require drivers to carry a minimum amount of auto insurance. That means a dealership will need to see proof of insurance before you drive off in your new (or new used) car.

If you have existing coverage, that policy will usually extend to your new vehicle - at least temporarily. You usually have 7 - 30 days to contact your insurance company and update your policy.

But in the meantime, your new car will only be insured at the same coverages and amounts as your old one, which may not be enough if something bad happens. Call your insurance company as soon as possible to register your new car and change coverages if needed.

If you had minimal coverage on your old vehicle and are financing or leasing a new one, the dealership may require you to add comprehensive and collision before they hand over the keys. (Some companies automatically include these coverages for up to five days regardless of your current policy.)

Car insurance requirements vary by state. It's always smart to speak with your insurer before purchasing a new vehicle to ask about their policies. You can also get a rough estimate of how much your rates may increase with a new car.

Insuring Your First Car
Since car dealers will require proof of insurance, you'll need to arrange coverage before buying your first car. You can start getting quotes even before you visit the dealership to find the best coverage for your budget.

It's also possible to sign up for coverage the day you buy your car - assuming your insurance company is open. The process will generally take about 20-30 minutes by phone.

Once you pay your initial premium, the company will usually provide proof of insurance to satisfy the dealer - and let you drive away in your new car.

Does Car Insurance Start Right Away?

Your coverage begins as soon as you make your first payment - if that's what you want. Insurance companies let you choose the date your policy starts.

If you don't have coverage, choose to start the same day to avoid any risks associated with being uninsured.

If you have an existing policy, you can coordinate to have your new coverage begin when the old one ends.

You could also cancel your old coverage and start immediately, sometimes with a slight refund from your previous insurer. Some companies even handle the transfer of your insurance for you.

Avoid any Insurance Gap
To avoid any potential fines for not carrying insurance, consider starting your new policy BEFORE canceling your existing insurance.

When Does Proof of Insurance Arrive?

Proof of insurance is a small card with your insurer name, policy number and the start/end dates of your term. It should be kept in your vehicle in the case of any accident.

If you buy a policy online, you will usually be sent proof of insurance through email within 24 hours. You can either print it or keep a digital copy on your phone (or both).

This is also true if you purchase a policy over the phone or in person through most major insurers. The agent will ask for your email address to forward the documents and a copy of your policy.

In some cases, proof of insurance cards may be mailed to the address listed on your policy. This can take between 5-10 business days.

What Can Delay Your Car Insurance

Several things can slow down the insurance process, including:

Vehicle registration issues
An incorrect VIN can raise red flags regarding the ownership of your vehicle. Your application may not be accepted until the issue is resolved.

Unknown license number
Lost your driver's license? Waiting for a new one in the mail? You need your driver's license number to become insured. Check your records or contact your local DMV before applying.

Agent availability
If you want to meet with an agent, you're somewhat dependent on their schedule. It may be days, or longer, before your appointment.

How To Find the Best Car Insurance

You've got plenty of choices when shopping for auto insurance. Here are some tips to keep in mind before you settle on a policy.

Ask about potential discounts
These can reduce your premiums significantly. Here are a few to keep in mind:

  • Good Student Discount
  • Resident Student Discount
  • Multiple Policy Discounts
  • Defensive Driving Discount

How long before your car insurance goes down after an accident?
In general, expect to see your rates decrease 3-5 years following an accident. But how much your insurance drops depends on a number of factors.

Look for a high financial rating
An A.M. Best FSR (financial strength rating) can tell you whether an insurance company has enough money to pay their claims. Look for an A-rated company or better - you can search for ratings here.

Don't skimp on coverage
Choosing the state-minimum means you may pay more out-of-pocket if the damages or injuries exceed those limits. If you are a homeowner, have a steady job, or if you have savings, pay for more coverage to protect these assets.

Bottom Line

Getting car insurance can take anywhere from a few minutes to around an hour. You can speed things up by having your information handy, including the amount of coverage you need.

But remember, faster isn't always better. Take some time to compare quotes and research companies before making your decision.

Write to Jennifer K at feedback@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

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