Mathew B. Sims is Editor-in-Chief and has authored, edited, and contributed to several books. He has been working in the insurance industry ensuring content is accurate for consumers who are searching for the best policies and rates. He has also been featured on sites like UpJourney.

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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 Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that exis...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Sep 7, 2020

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Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.

Things to Remember...

  • Each US state requires minimum liability insurance in order to operate a vehicle legally
  • If you need auto insurance today, you might call an independent agent, tell him your situation, and see if he can quickly compare quotes and present you with some good policy options
  • If you visit a website run by an insurer, you will be able to sign up, view quotes, and even purchase your auto insurance policy
  • If you already own an insured car, your rental is probably covered the same way that your current car is covered

What do I do if I need car insurance today? Lots of insurers can provide you with cheap auto insurance coverage immediately. You probably do not need to visit an agent in person either. You might be able to get immediate car insurance over the phone or online.

However, it is important to be a prudent auto insurance consumer even when you are in a hurry. When you make insurance choices impulsively, you may not get the best coverage or the best price.

Ready to start shopping around to buy immediate auto insurance? Enter your ZIP code into the free comparison tool above to get started and find affordable immediate auto insurance quotes.

Options to Buy Auto Insurance Online Today

As you may already know, each US state requires minimum liability insurance in order to operate a vehicle legally. In addition, your auto financing company might require collision and comprehensive coverage in order to conform to their loan terms.

If you bought, leased, or even rented a car, you might need to get these three types of auto insurance coverage before you ever think about putting the key in the ignition and driving out of the parking lot.

Luckily, there are plenty of options to buy auto insurance online, from independent agents to rental car insurance and same-day car insurance. Read on to learn about the pros and cons of each option.

Can I buy auto insurance from an agent?

There are two different types of agents:

  • Captive Agents – these can only represent one company
  • Independent Agents – these have the ability to represent multiple insurers

Some agents are captive, and this means that they can only represent one company. Others work independently, and they have the ability to represent multiple insurers.

While a captive agent might have the advantage of truly understanding his company’s products, and independent agent can shop the market for you.

If you need auto insurance today, you might call an independent agent, tell him your situation, and see if he can quickly compare car insurance quotes and present you with some good policy options to get auto insurance over the phone.

Can I buy auto insurance from an online auto insurance website?

You can also find many websites to purchase your auto insurance on.

The difference between dealing with websites that are run by auto insurers and independent websites is similar to the difference between dealing with captive and independent agents.

If you visit a website run by an insurer, you will be able to sign up, view quotes, and even purchase your auto insurance policy. But you can only do it for that company.

You can also find websites that can actually give you quotes and sell plans from multiple insurers. These can offer you the chance to quickly comparison shop for the right coverage and prices online.

In either case, you should be able to make your purchase and print out your insurance cards right on the site.

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Can I buy auto insurance from an insurance phone app?

It is possible to use a free phone auto insurance app to purchase insurance. Some insurers even have phone applications that allow you to purchase auto insurance by phone immediately.

Instead of printing your card, you may get it delivered as an image so you can store it on your cell phone until you have a chance to print your card.

Just make sure you are using a reputable insurance company, as according to the Insurance Information Institute (III), insurance fraud costs an average of $40 billion per year. One of the contributers to this number is insurers themselves.

Can I buy auto insurance at the dealership?

If you are sitting in the office of an auto lot where you have just purchased a new car, the salesperson will probably be happy to give you access to his computer or phone so you can purchase your required coverage. This is one way to get auto insurance today as soon as you buy your car.

You do not need to purchase this coverage from any company or agent that the salesman happens to recommend though.

If you just bought a car, you probably sat through a long and involved purchase process. It is fine if you take your time finding the best auto insurance deal now. Your salesperson can wait for you now.

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Auto Insurance Down Payments

You do not need to pay the entire balance for six months or a year of coverage. Typically, payments can be prorated, and you may just need to pay for the first month.

You can also probably set up a payment plan over the phone or online. To see what a total entire balance typically costs, take a look at the table below to see average rates by company including State Farm car insurance and Geico car insurance.

U.S. Average Auto Insurance Rates by Company
CompaniesAverage Annual Auto Insurance RatesAverage Six-Month Auto Insurance RatesAverage Monthly Auto Insurance Rates
USAA$2,537$1,269$211
Geico$3,214$1,607$268
State Farm$3,260$1,630$272
American Family$3,443$1,722$287
Nationwide$3,450$1,725$288
Progressive$4,036$2,018$336
Farmers$4,194$2,097$350
Travelers$4,435$2,217$370
Allstate$4,888$2,444$407
Liberty Mutual$6,073$3,037$506
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Even if you are looking for auto insurance today, take the time to shop around and find the best rate.

Quick Rental Car Insurance Options

Actually, if you already own an insured car, your rental is probably covered the same way that your current car is covered. You might be prudent to call your insurer and find out if you are not sure.

Keep in mind that if you own an older vehicle, and you only carry minimum liability on that car, that might be all that is covered on your rental vehicle.

In this case, you may choose to purchase collision and comprehensive coverage just to be sure that you will not be responsible for any damage that is caused in an accident.

Some credit cards do provide this additional coverage. But again, lots of people have relied upon their credit card rental car plans and been disappointed when they did need to make a damage claim.

If you are not exactly sure what this plan covers, this is a good time to pause and call your company to get the details straight.

If not, you might be prudent to pay the daily rate at the counter. If you rent frequently, you can also call an insurer and take out a non-owner policy the same way that you can buy any other coverage. This can be cheaper than paying the daily rate for frequent renters.

Before you commit to a rental car insurance company, though, make sure you do a little research to find out what rental car insurance company is best.

Free Auto Insurance Comparison

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

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Even if you are in a big hurry, remember that getting the right auto insurance is critical. You need to protect your investment and avoid paying too much.

On the other hand, you are free to change your mind. It is certainly possible to drop one policy in favor of another before the term of your coverage has expired. Insurers will refund unused premiums.

In any case, a simple phone call or visit to a good insurance website can help you purchase coverage right away. Agents and websites should also be able to provide you with competitive pricing and coverage information.

Enter your ZIP code into the FREE quote tool above to get started on finding the the best immediate car insurance rates in your area, so you can get insurance today.