The time it takes to get insurance ultimately depends on you and the carrier, but the process usually is less than an hour. Coverage kicks in upon making your first payment.
Most major insurers will give you a personalized quote in 10 to 15 minutes. Gather your personal information, car details and driving history to secure a policy the same day you get a quote. If you're unsure which company to use or how much coverage you need, it's best to do some research and determine your insurance needs. A car insurance calculator can also help you get quotes from multiple insurers simultaneously.
Table of Contents
If you have all your personal information ready, it could take 20 minutes to a few hours to get auto insurance through an online quote tool.
You can get quotes from an agent or a broker by phone, but this may take longer than getting a quote online.
You might experience delays in getting coverage if you're insuring a classic or rare car, recently moved or have a claims history.
How Long It Takes to Get Car Insurance: Step by Step
The time it takes to get car insurance varies depending on your level of preparedness. Knowing what company and coverages you want, you could get insurance in less than half an hour. But if you still need to compare car insurance quotes and determine your coverage limits, the process can take up to a few hours. Our step-by-step breakdown can help you estimate your timeline.
Gather Your Personal Information (A Few Minutes)
The first thing you need to do when getting car insurance is gather all the relevant information insurance carriers may ask for. You'll also need this information to get the most accurate quote.
Decide How Much Insurance You Need (A Few Minutes to Several Hours)
If you already know how much insurance you need, you can immediately proceed to the next step. Otherwise, researching can take up more of your time. Make sure you consider the following:
- State car insurance requirements
- Car value
- Uninsured or underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage
- Optional coverage add-ons
Compare Insurance Quotes (15 Minutes to One Hour)
It takes about 10 to 15 minutes to get an online quote from a single company. An insurance agent or broker can also help you assess your options, but the process can be time-consuming. MoneyGeek recommends comparing quotes from at least five companies to get the best deal. Comparing quotes takes more time but could save you hundreds of dollars in the end.
Make Your First Payment (A Few Minutes)
It usually takes longer to get a quote than to activate your policy. You're insured as soon as you make the first payment. Depending on your payment plan, the billed amount may be equivalent to the first month or the entire policy term.
How Can I Get Car Insurance Quickly?
What you need to get car insurance fast depends on various factors, but having all the necessary information ready can expedite the process and may even help you obtain car insurance that same day.
Your Personal Information
Prepare your personal information. If you plan on adding an additional driver to the policy, have their information ready, as well. If it makes you uncomfortable to share these details online, you can use MoneyGeek’s anonymous car insurance calculator to get a rough estimate instead.
- Name: Insurance companies need your full legal name to identify you as the policyholder.
- Date of birth: Age is an important factor for insurers when evaluating risks.
- Address: Your location can affect the cost of car insurance due to local crime and accident rates.
- Occupation: Some occupations are deemed higher-risk.
- Contact information: Insurers need your phone number and email address for communication purposes.
- Social security number (SSN): Although not always a requirement, some insurers may ask for your SSN to check your driving and credit history.
- Marital status: Some insurers offer lower premiums to married people as they typically get into fewer accidents.
- Driver’s license number: Insurers want to know that you have a valid driver's license and will use it to verify your driving record.
Your Driving History
Insurers evaluate your driving risks based on your record in recent years. Make sure you provide accurate details when asked about your driving history — insurance providers can spot discrepancies. Having any of the following may result in higher premiums:
- Accumulated points
Your Car Details
The car you drive can influence your insurance premiums. Generally, insurers charge higher rates the more expensive it is to repair the car. You'll also pay more for coverage the more mileage you have.
- Vehicle identification number (VIN): Each VIN is a unique number that provides information about the make, model, year and place of manufacture. It also allows insurers to check if the car has been involved in any accidents.
- Year, make and model: Expensive cars, such as luxury and sports cars, cost more to repair or replace, leading to higher insurance premiums. Insurance rates for newer vehicles, which tend to have higher replacement costs, are typically more expensive as well. Cars with higher safety ratings might be cheaper to insure.
- Mileage: The more you drive, the more likely you are to be in an accident, so people with high annual mileage may pay more for insurance. If you don't know your annual mileage, you can check your car’s service records or ask your mechanic.
Your Current Policy
If you already have one, have the details of your current auto insurance policy on hand. Insurance companies may ask for the following:
- Current insurance carrier
- Coverage details, including limits and add-ons
- Policy expiration date
You can also take this opportunity to review your current coverage, assess whether it still meets your needs and compare it with other offers.
If you already know how much car insurance you need or are renewing a policy, you can quickly fill in the appropriate limits and coverages in an online quote tool and get a quote in 10 to 15 minutes. But if it’s your first time purchasing car insurance, do some additional research on what liability limits you want, the benefits of comprehensive and collision insurance and comparing quotes from at least five companies.
Auto Insurance Calculator
See how the Average Annual Auto Insurance Rates vary with the options chosen.
What Causes Delays in Getting Car Insurance
Getting car insurance is typically a straightforward process, but certain factors can cause delays. How quickly you can get insurance depends on your application method, car, claims history and whether you have a complete application.
- Your application method: Applying online is definitely the fastest method, but it's only recommended for drivers who already know what coverage they need and have a preferred insurance provider. Calling the company may take longer than getting an online quote but it lets you ask questions to ensure you're getting the right coverage.
- Incomplete application: Missing a required field on your application can slow down the process of getting car insurance as the company may need to contact you to fill in this information.
- If you're new to the area: If you've recently moved to a new area, especially a different state, your insurance rates and requirements may change. Insurers also need to verify your address or where you're keeping your car most of the time.
- If you're insuring a classic car: Insuring a classic car may require a specialized policy, typically acquired through a full underwriting process. These cases usually go to a human underwriter, so it takes longer than automatic underwriting.
- If you have a claims history: Risk is among the most crucial factors insurance companies consider when evaluating policy applications. If you have a history with multiple insurance claims, an underwriter may be assigned to thoroughly review your file.
Although you may want to rush the process, there are benefits to taking your time when getting car insurance. Research allows you to compare quotes and find the cheapest auto insurance company for your unique situation. Maybe you value excellent customer service and set out to find the best car insurance company. Not rushing the process gives you time to understand what you value in a policy and find a company that can provide it.
When Car Insurance Goes Into Effect
You can purchase a car insurance policy the same day you get a quote online. It goes into effect as soon as you make your first payment. If you want to delay the start of your new policy (perhaps when your current coverage ends), simply request your desired policy start date in the online quote tool.
If you're renewing your policy, make sure your new policy starts as soon as your previous one ends to avoid a lapse in coverage. Any lapse in car insurance can have a significant impact on premiums when getting new car insurance.
Read More About Car Insurance
Frequently Asked Questions About Getting Car Insurance
Understanding how the process works, your options and the different factors you need to consider can help you navigate through the process of getting car insurance.
About Mark Fitzpatrick