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How long does it take for car insurance to kick in?

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Things to remember...

  • An insurance company will require at least a down payment before allowing a policy to go into effect
  • The buyer usually can set the effective date of the policy
  • Extra steps should be taken to ensure there is no gap in coverage between an old and new policy

Driving without car insurance is something very few responsible people do. Even in states where car insurance is not mandatory, people buy car insurance to protect themselves financially against a variety of losses.

Civil or criminal penalties for a lack of insurance are further reasons why many choose to review auto insurance quotes and make a purchase.

Upon selecting a specific policy, the client wants to feel at ease about driving. He or she does not want to worry about being financially devastated due to causing an accident.

As long as the auto insurance policy has been properly executed, the policy is active.

Claims can be filed for the following, depending on an individual’s coverage level:

Consumers need to take note of a highly important point. Until the policy is active, the policy will not cover any accidents or injuries.

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Payment First


Insurance companies are not likely to execute a contract without first receiving a payment. The full payment of the policy may or may not be required depending on the provider’s rules. Generally, a down payment is all that is necessary in order to execute the policy.

A down payment on an auto insurance policy is no different than a down payment on an auto loan. If the full price of the auto insurance policy is $1,500, a downpayment of $300 may be required. The remaining $1,200 could be paid the following ways:

  • monthly
  • bi-monthly
  • bi-annually

Once the initial payment is made, the policy should go into effect on a specified date. Buyers should confirm with their provider that the policy is active.

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Determining the Effective Date

The determination of when the auto insurance policy goes into effect is actually up to the person who buys coverage. The buyer can ask for the policy to go into effect as soon as possible or could delay the effective date.

Likely, the earliest time the policy can go into effect would be 12:01 AM the day after the down payment has been made.

Comparison shopping makes it easy for an individual to switch to a new or better policy, but the buyer still has a few additional responsibilities.

If the old policy’s term ends on March 22 and the new policy is purchased on March 19, a request could be made to hold off on activating the new policy until the previous policy reaches expiration.

Another option is to execute the new policy right away and cancel the old policy. A credit would be issued for the remaining days on the canceled policy.

You can always contact the insurance company being replaced to determine whether you will receive a refund.

Taking Smart Steps


When canceling out an old policy and replacing it with a new one, calling the new insurance provider and ensuring the new policy is absolutely going to be in place at the date given is advisable.

Taking these extra steps allows drivers to avoid any errors that could lead to a gap in coverage.

A lapse in coverage means no insurance is in place to cover losses in the event of an accident. A simple phone call could reduce or eliminate the chances of a lapse ever taking place.

Additionally, no matter when a policy goes into effect, it won’t stay in effect if it is canceled due to non-payment. People sometimes make mistakes and fail to make payments. Insurance carriers know this and might send out a reminder.

A letter from the insurance company, hopefully, will go out requesting payment by a certain time or else a policy ends up canceled. Don’t rely solely on a reminder, though. Always be sure to pay premiums on time.

If the policy is canceled, reinstating the original policy or procuring a new one should become an immediate priority.

Get the coverage needed for the best price by comparing auto insurance quotes side-by-side today!

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