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

How long does it take for auto insurance to kick in? Most companies offer quotes immediately and can have you covered on the same day. How long does it take for car insurance to go down? One way to reduce car insurance rates is to assess how much coverage you need before getting a quote. Learn more.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Dec 10, 2021

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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.
  • Understanding when your coverage comes into effect is all part of managing an auto insurance policy.

How long does it take for auto insurance to kick in? As soon as you submit payment for your policy, you can typically have coverage. Sometimes car insurance can take some time to process depending on what types of auto insurance coverage you get. Usually, you will get coverage right away.

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.

Compare car insurance quotes by entering your ZIP code into our free rate tool above.

What do you need to get insured?

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

How long does it take to get car insurance?

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 to be replaced to determine whether you will receive a refund.

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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.

What does it mean to let your car insurance lapse? 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 will ideally go out requesting payment by a certain time, or else a policy ends up canceled, according to the Insurance Information Institute. 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.

Civil or criminal penalties for 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. They do 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:

  • Auto liability
  • Personal injury protection
  • Uninsured motorist

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

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

There are hundreds of insurance companies that sell personal car insurance around the nation, and almost every one offers some form of instant or near-instant car insurance. Your insurance coverage can kick in as soon as you submit payment.

While each of these companies sells a similar type of financial product with similar terms and conditions, every company has its differences.

As a consumer, you should buy competitively priced insurance from a reputable carrier. To find the best insurance policy from the best insurance carrier, you’ll need to research companies and compare rates.

Now, with a majority of major carriers offering consumers convenient online tools, pricing and purchasing insurance can be done in minutes.

How long will it take to get an auto insurance quote?

It’s difficult to pinpoint just how long it’ll take to get coverage because every company has its own application.

Some insurance carriers ask you more detailed questions to assess risk and underwrite the application than others.

Providing the most accurate underwriting information to the company will give the insurer the clearest picture to rate your policy.

Since there’s not just one standard system used industry-wide, there’s no way to say exactly how long getting insurance will take.

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How long does getting an average online quote directly through the carrier take?

While some systems take upward of 15 minutes to navigate through, others have been known to take five minutes to complete.

Some portals can automatically pull vehicle information up with your name and VIN.

Individuals who retrieved online quotes have claimed to have spent an average of about eight minutes per application getting quotes.

Since you’re advised to retrieve at least a dozen quotes for fair price comparison, shopping for insurance online can still be tedious when you’re shopping directly through the insurer online.

Fortunately, there are ways to avoid visiting several different sites and navigating through different systems to customize several personal auto quotes at once.

These brokerage-like systems only ask for personal information once and then provide this information to each insurer so rate calculations are done behind the scenes.

What do application questions have to do with underwriting risk?

No matter how useless some of the information you’re asked for might seem, every piece of information that the insurer wants to know has a purpose.

Insurers ask application questions strictly to assess risk and then assign premiums.

Some insurers use their own data, and others will reference analytics from outside vendors like Moody’s Analytics to gain insight.

Insurers believe the information provided can be used to predict behaviors and how likely you’ll be to file a claim.

Some of the information used is based on your segment or demographic, and some is based on your household, habits, and vehicle information.

Here are some of the most important factors that can affect pricing:

  • Vehicle type
  • Gender, age, years of driving experience
  • Driving record and claims record
  • Garaging ZIP code
  • How you use your car and how much
  • Credit rating

Read on to learn more about what you need to provide to get an auto insurance quote online.

What information must be provided for an online quote?

Every answer you provide on an electronic application will change your risk class and could potentially change your premiums, but it can mean almost instant quotes and then coverage.

Here are some of the most common application questions you must answer to complete an auto insurance application:

  • How many years of experience do you have in the United States?
  • Do you have moving violations?
  • Do any household members have accidents on their record?
  • Are full-time student drivers eligible for Good Student Discounts?
  • Does the vehicle have an anti-theft device? Passive or active?
  • Where is the vehicle primarily parked?
  • Is the vehicle financed or leased?
  • Do you have prior auto insurance?
  • Do you have any lapses in coverage?

Before you choose an auto insurance company, you need to compare quotes to ensure you get the best price. To do that, you have to know how much coverage you need.

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Determining How Much Coverage You Need Before a Quote

How long does it take for car insurance to go down? One way to reduce the time it takes to get car insurance is for you to assess how much coverage you need beforehand.

Each state has its own insurance laws, but purchasing state minimum coverage doesn’t necessarily protect you.

If your car is financed, the finance company will require physical damage coverage and possibly gap insurance.

If it’s paid off, you still may want optional coverage like Medical Payments and Uninsured Motorist.

Take the time to review coverage options and state requirements.

If you already have coverage, make sure you’re doing an apples-to-apples comparison so you can clearly see if you’re getting the best deal with potential insurers.

By getting quotes with the same limits and options, you’ll know whichever insurer you choose really is offering the best deal.

What should I consider when comparing auto insurers?

Price shouldn’t be the only consideration to keep in mind as you’re shopping around to get affordable auto insurance.

Before you assume the cheapest policy is best, you should look into the carrier’s reputation. When choosing an insurer, you should make licensing a priority.

If you do business with a company that isn’t licensed in your state, you can’t turn to the Department of Insurance to settle issues you have with the insurer.

If you don’t want to spend 15 minutes on each quote you request, you can provide your information just once and review dozens of quotes instantly.

Before you get quotes, check into licensing and financial stability ratings so you only do business with reliable companies.

Ready to buy auto insurance? Start comparing auto insurance rates now by entering your ZIP code in our free tool below.

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Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap auto insurance rates.

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