How fast does car insurance kick in?

It only takes a few seconds to get auto insurance quotes online, and your car insurance can kick in as quickly as 24 hours. How fast your car insurance starts depends on when and where you sign up for a policy. Shopping for car insurance online can get your application approved instantly while shopping with an agent can take a few days. Enter your ZIP code below to find coverage online with free car insurance quotes from local companies.

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Tonya Sisler has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of South Carolina in Journalism and has worked for 15+ years in management. She has also completed a proofreading certification and is currently a professional writer.

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Brad Larson has been in the insurance industry for more than a dozen years. He started out as a claims adjuster for a national carrier. He has since switched to the agency side of the business. Brad is licensed in all P&C lines.

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Reviewed by Brad Larsen
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Oct 26, 2020

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It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right cheap car insurance coverage choices.

Advertiser Disclosure: We strive to help you make confident car insurance decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. We are not affiliated with any one car insurance company and cannot guarantee quotes from any single company.

Our insurance industry partnerships don’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own. To compare cheap car insurance quotes from many different companies please enter your ZIP code on this page to use the free quote tool. The more quotes you compare, the more chances to save.

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

Things to know...

  • If you’re pricing the cost of auto insurance, it only takes a few minutes from start to finish to get online quotes
  • A quote is not binding and you must apply for insurance before any coverage takes effect
  • If you need coverage immediately, you can ask for your policy to take effect on the same day
  • When policies are effective immediately, you must submit the first month’s payment or the required deposit
  • Whenever an insurer activates coverage, you’ll receive a temporary binder until the application is reviewed

Anyone who owns or finances a car is required by law to carry and maintain auto insurance. Fortunately, car insurance is the easiest type of insurance to buy.

You don’t have to worry about home inspections or thorough medical exams. All you have to do is provide information about your driving history and your vehicle, submit a payment, and you can activate your coverage.

If you’re in a rush to get coverage as soon as you’re able to, it’s crucial that you have all of the documents and ID numbers that you need to complete your application.

Getting quotes is quick and easy online, but you still must have all of the information that the company needs to verify your identity and history.

Enter your ZIP code above and try our FREE online quote tool! Get better auto insurance today!

Do you have coverage when you’re getting quotes?


Quotes are nothing more than estimates. If you’re comparing the price of your favorite washer and you call each retailer in your area, you’re getting the same type of estimate you’d be getting if you requested insurance quotes.

The only difference is that personal factors affect the cost, and you’ll be paying for a product that’s not tangible.

Since it’s nothing more than a price estimate that helps you determine if the premiums will be in your budget range, you won’t have any coverage by requesting quotes.

Insurance quotes are not binding and, in most cases, the premiums can change in the blink of an eye up until you submit your application.

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Why are auto insurance applications so important?


When you submit your application, you agree to the contract’s terms and conditions. Since an insurance policy is a financial indemnity contract, you’ll have to agree to specific terms or the company would not be able to extend coverage to you.

Another reason that personal auto insurance applications are important is that you’ll have the opportunity to give the insurer the pieces of information that are needed for verification.

As honest as you might be, not everyone will disclose their tickets, accidents, or gaps in coverage.

When you fill in each section, the underwriter will have the ID numbers and dates needed to run verification reports.

What is an effective date?

One of the first things you’ll be asked to select as an insurance applicant is an effective date. As the term would imply, this is the date that your coverage will take effect.

While the policy will start covering the named insured and property at 12:01 am on the effective date, claims filed at the time of inception are heavily investigated.

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What is the earliest date that you can choose?

You have the right to choose any effective date on any 365 days of the year, but it can’t be sooner than the day that you have filled out the application.

Backdated effective dates are never allowed, because it puts the company at risk of having to cover a claim when they weren’t liable for providing protection.

If you do pick the current date as your effective date, just know that you don’t have coverage from 12:01 am. Instead, the company will provide coverage as of the time that you submitted your complete application and the minimum amount that is due to start the policy.

Any claims before that time will not be covered. If you were to file a claim for an accident beforehand, you might be convicted of fraud.

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Why does the paperwork say ‘temporary binder’?


You will be given a receipt, a temporary ID card, your disclosures, and your declarations page when you’ve submitted your payment.

For some, it’s shocking to look at the page headings and find that all of the paperwork is considered to be part of a “temporary binder.” A temporary binder doesn’t mean you’re buying temporary insurance.

The term “temporary binder” refers to the fact that your policy number is a new business application, and it hasn’t yet been reviewed by the underwriting department.

Although an agent is a representative of the company, they do not run your records and make a final decision on your premiums and eligibility. The underwriter is the one with this responsibility.

Your temporary binder will be good for either 30 days or 60 days, depending on how long it takes for the underwriter to run reports and get the information requested from you. If everything checks out, you’ll get official documentation, and your premiums will be left unchanged.

If something comes up and it changes your risk class, there’s a chance your coverage could be terminated or it could be canceled altogether.

How long is car insurance good for?

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Insurance companies will sell their personal car policies in one of two lengths: Six months or 12 months. You need to speak with the agent to see if your premiums that are quoted are for six months of coverage or a year’s worth.

It’s easy to misinterpret the cost of your insurance if you were looking at the length of the term incorrectly.

A majority of policies sold today have 6-month terms, because they benefit the insurer more than the consumer. If you forgot to ask about the term, you can always review your paperwork.

The expiration date on the policy is also a good indicator of how long your term will last.

As long as you have your car’s VIN, your license number, and all of the other small details the insurer is asking for, you can get insurance in minutes. If you need it to take effect right away, select today’s date as your effective date.

Looking to get better auto insurance immediately? Enter your ZIP code below and compare at least three to four policies today!

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