How Long Does it Take To Get Car Insurance on a Vehicle?
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Applying for car insurance can take minutes, and you may get same-day coverage depending on the insurance company. To expedite the application process, you should have your personal and vehicle information ready and know how much coverage you want to buy. However, delays can happen if an insurer refuses coverage because of your driving history or you own a certain type of vehicle.
Keep reading to see how to get car insurance quickly.
How Long Does it Take To Apply For Car Insurance?
The car insurance application process can take minutes if you have all of your information ready and there are no delays. You can even schedule your coverage start date to begin the same day you purchase the policy, depending on the insurance company.
Generally, a car insurance company will request the following information to provide an accurate quote:
- Personal information (date of birth, sex, marital status)
- Driver’s license number
- Contact information (phone number, email address)
- Home address
- Whether your vehicle is parked on a public street or in a garage
- Names, birth dates and relationships to household members (e.g., spouse, children, parents)
- Vehicle identification number (VIN), found on interior dash or inside driver side door jamb
- Vehicle year, make and model
- Whether vehicle is financed, leased or owned
- Estimated weekly mileage
- Credit or debit card number
After buying the policy, it may take a few business days before you receive your physical proof of insurance card. While you wait for the card to arrive, many auto insurance companies offer electronic verification through an online portal or by mobile app.
Adding a Vehicle to an Existing Policy
Adding a vehicle to an existing car insurance policy is generally a convenient process that can take minutes. Many national car insurance companies allow you to add a car by:
- Logging into your online account
- Calling an insurance agent
- Accessing the company mobile app
You may need to supply similar information to buying a new policy, such as the VIN and your estimated weekly mileage.
Insuring a Newly Purchased Car
The car dealer will require you to show proof of insurance before they allow you to drive away in your newly purchased car. Drivers that are already insured typically have a grace period of up to 30 days (varies by insurance company) to add the vehicle to the existing policy. If you experience an accident in your new car within the grace period, you will still be covered.
If you do not have insurance — you’re a new driver and this is your first car purchase, for instance — then the dealer may not allow you to drive the car home. Rather, you will need to buy car insurance that same day and show the dealer electronic proof of insurance.
How Soon Will My Car Insurance Start?
When buying your auto policy, you can choose for your insurance coverage to start the same day or some date in the near future.
Some insurers will allow you to purchase same-day coverage — your insurance coverage begins the same date you purchase the policy. This can be useful if you’re not currently insured and you’re buying your first ca. Otherwise, the dealer will not let you drive away without receiving proof of car insurance.
National car insurance companies that sell same-day auto insurance include:
- Liberty Mutual
- State Farm
Choose a Start Date
When getting online auto insurance quotes, many auto insurers will allow you to choose a start date for your policy period. If you’re buying a new car and can get the VIN in advance, we recommend buying your policy first and setting the start date for the day you plan to complete the car purchase.
Coverage Is Never Retroactive
You will not be covered for accidents that occurred before the start date of the policy period.
For example, say you buy a used car from a neighbor on Monday and get into a car accident on Tuesday. If you buy same-day car insurance on Wednesday, then the accident will not be covered since it occurred before the policy start date. Attempting to start a car insurance claim can even be considered insurance fraud, and the company may cancel your policy.
How To Get Auto Insurance Quickly
To get your vehicle insured as soon as possible, we recommend knowing how much coverage you need upfront and having your information ready before you purchase a new vehicle.
Know the Type Of Coverage You’ll Need
Legally driving your vehicle requires you to meet your state’s minimum insurance requirements, which will generally fall within the following ranges:
- Bodily injury liability coverage: $15,000 to $50,000 per person and $30,000 to $100,000 per accident
- Property damage liability coverage: $5,000 to $2,500 per accident
- Uninsured/underinsured bodily injury (UM/UIM) coverage: $20,000 to $50,000 per person and $40,000 to $100,000 per accident
- Uninsured/underinsured property damage coverage: $5,000 to $25,000 per accident
- Personal injury protection (PIP): $5,000 to $50,000 (only for states that offer no-fault insurance)
Nearly all states require minimum liability coverage, while UM/UIM and PIP requirements will vary by state.
If you are financing your vehicle, you will likely need to purchase full coverage on top of your state’s minimum insurance requirements. Full coverage typically includes collision and comprehensive protections:
- Collision coverage: Pays to repair or replace your vehicle if it is damaged after colliding with another vehicle or object (e.g., fence, telephone pole, tree).
- Comprehensive coverage: Pays to repair or replace your vehicle if damaged from a non-vehicular incident, such as theft, falling objects or fire.
Have Your Information Ready
If you’re buying a new policy, you will need to provide your personal information, driving history and vehicle information (see our earliest section for a more complete list). Having these details readily accessible can quicken the application process. If you’re adding a vehicle to an existing policy, the process is generally faster since you only need to provide the new vehicle’s information.
Delays in Getting Car Insurance
Missing information, a high-risk driving history and owning a certain type of vehicle can create delays in getting car insurance.
- Missing information: Online quote requests often have “optional” fields that may actually be necessary for underwriting your policy later on. It’s best to provide all the information possible upfront to ensure a seamless purchase process.
- High-risk driving history: If the insurance company realizes you’re a high-risk driver because of multiple recent at-fault accidents and traffic tickets, they may refuse you coverage. High-risk drivers may need to spend more time shopping around before they find a company willing to write their policy.
- Your vehicle needs specialized insurance: Certain types of vehicles, like RVs, ATVs and motorsport cars, require a specialized form of insurance and typically are not covered under a standard car insurance policy.
What Is the Best Way To Apply for Car Insurance?
To avoid any coverage hiccups on the date of purchasing your new vehicle, we recommend buying car insurance coverage in advance. This way, you can show the car dealer your proof of insurance and drive away in your new car without issues. Shopping around in advance also gives you enough time to find the lowest rates available.
Buying same-day coverage is still a possibility, but only if the insurance company offers it. Potential delays in getting insured could delay you from enjoying your new ride.
Are you shopping for car insurance? SmartFinancial’s free online tool compares rates and coverages from insurance providers in your area. Enter your zip code below or call 855.214.2291 to get your free auto insurance quotes.