Call a licensed agent: 833-964-9663

How long does it take to get car insurance?

white vehicle front

Written by Elizabeth Rivelli

Reviewed by Alyssa DiCrasto

If you’re getting ready to purchase a new vehicle, you need to get a car insurance policy. If you can’t show proof of insurance, the dealership won’t let you take the car home. In this situation, you might be wondering, how long does it take to get car insurance? The short answer is, it depends. However, you might be able to get car insurance almost instantly, depending on the insurer.

How long does it take to get a car insured?

There’s no specific length of time it takes to get a car insured. It really comes down to whether you already have a car insurance policy and what insurance company you choose.

If you have an existing auto insurance policy, you can probably get car insurance for a new vehicle pretty quickly. You usually have two options. One option is to call your insurance company and let them know that you want to insure a new car. You’ll need to provide the vehicle’s information, like the VIN, make, model, year, trim level, and mileage.

The second option is to add the new vehicle to your existing policy online if you have access to digital policy management tools, like your provider’s app or online portal. After inputting the information about your new vehicle, you will see the updated premium. Once you pay the first month’s premium for the new vehicle, your insurance coverage will take effect.

For some people, it might only take a few minutes to insure a new vehicle, especially if you can add the vehicle yourself. But if you don’t already have a car insurance policy, the process will probably take a little longer.

If you need to open a new policy, you will have to go through the application process. This process usually doesn’t take long if you work with an insurance company that allows you to apply for and buy coverage online. In this case, it might take 30 minutes to an hour to insure the vehicle and get your ID cards.

When do I need to buy car insurance?

If you own a vehicle that is registered in your name, you are legally required to carry car insurance in almost every state. Without car insurance, you can’t legally drive.

If you’re planning on purchasing a new or used vehicle, you must insure the car before you can get the keys and take the car home. However, this might be as simple as adding the new car to your existing policy, which only takes a few minutes.

Another time you may need to buy car insurance is if you’re thinking about switching providers. If you want to change car insurance companies, you must purchase a new policy before the old policy expires. Having a lapse in coverage on your insurance record can have negative consequences, and you could pay higher car insurance rates in the future.

Find cheap car insurance near you

"*" indicates required fields

Zip Code*

Oops! We could not locate your form.

How quickly does car insurance take effect?

Car insurance takes effect after you pay the first month’s premium. Many car insurance companies allow you to purchase a policy immediately after applying. Because of this, you could get car insurance coverage in as little as one hour.

However, you can also choose to start your policy later. For example, if you buy car insurance a few days before purchasing a new vehicle, you can choose to have the policy begin on the day you receive the vehicle. That way, you don’t have to pay for coverage before you need it.

Can I get same-day insurance?

Yes, it’s usually possible to get same-day car insurance. Most major insurance providers allow you to get a quote, apply, and purchase a policy simultaneously. You don’t need to wait for the insurance company to manually review your application and calculate your premium.

If you work with a local insurance provider, however, this might not be the case. Insurance providers that don’t offer digital applications or quotes may have a longer approval process, which could take a few days.

How long does it take to get car insurance card?

If your insurance company offers access to digital policy documents, you can usually download your insurance ID cards immediately after purchasing coverage. Most insurance companies that offer a mobile app also provide digital ID cards on your phone.

If you purchased coverage through a smaller agency that doesn’t have these online tools, you might need to wait a few days to get your ID cards. However, you should be given a temporary ID card in case you need to show proof of insurance. 

About Rate Retriever

At Rate Retriever, our mission is to make the way you shop for insurance transparent and fair through user-friendly tools that respect your privacy and deliver reliable, comprehensive results 

So we took everything we hated about comparing insurance quotes online – the spam, the long questionnaires, the limited choices, the inaccuracy of quote prices – and threw it out the window, favoring a short form that more accurately estimates what you’ll pay at each of the top insurance providers near you. 

Rate Retriever is an independent company that is not owned by an insurance provider, nor do we provide insurance ourselves. This independence allows us to be your free and impartial insurance research tool, helping you make the best decisions for your insurance needs.  

We may earn a commission when you click one of the links or call one of the providers listed on our site; however, we do not allow our partnerships to influence which information we provide. 

Share this article