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Same-day car insurance: What it is and how to get it

Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com

If you need insurance in a hurry, it’s important to know that many car insurance companies provide same-day auto insurance. With the right steps, you can go from getting a quote to having car insurance in as little as a few minutes to a couple of hours. Technology has made getting auto insurance easier and faster than ever. 

In keeping with modern technology, many auto insurance companies offer websites or mobile apps where prospective customers can get insurance quotes and purchase policies nearly instantaneously. Most policies are active as soon as payment is provided.

Same-day car insurance

The idea of same-day car insurance is to sign up for an auto policy and be driving under its coverage on the same day. This provides flexibility for situations in which speedy coverage is essential to be able to drive immediately and legally. Most auto insurance providers make this possible.

Can I get same-day car insurance?

In short, yes. Many auto insurance companies put their insurance policies into force as soon as the application is approved and the product is purchased. There can be a small wait of minutes or a couple of hours, but the process can generally be completed within a single day. 

While large or complicated policies might require extra time, most standard auto insurance policies can be quoted and activated within hours. The biggest indicator of whether or not a specific company can provide same-day auto insurance coverage is whether they offer an online quote and application option. Even then, you may be able to call and ask an agent about same-day insurance options.

How does same-day car insurance work?

Many companies attempt to put their policies into force as quickly as they reasonably can. However, certain complications can slow down the process. Customized policies, ensuring specialized vehicles and working with a smaller auto insurance company can add to the time it takes for a policy to go into force.

However, with standard car insurance plans from larger companies, you can often expect to receive your policy on the same day you purchase it. Typically, most insurance is obtained by requesting a quote, comparing with other provider quotes, and eventually deciding on a policy, providing payment, and establishing a start date. While this can all be done on the same day, some drivers may prefer to take more time to consider options. 

However, barring the potential complications mentioned above, the decision to get same-day insurance is based largely on personal preference of how quickly you want to select and pay for a policy.

How long does it take to get car insurance?

If there are no complications, getting a new auto insurance policy can take as little as a couple of hours or less. While this provides excellent convenience for those who need their policy to be active as soon as possible, others may feel rushed. When obtaining a quote and policy all in one day, there is potential for errors or omissions, and leaves little time for comparison-shopping.

Mistakes in policies can come from both sides of the table. More importantly, the quicker you select and enact a new policy, the less time you have to understand that policy and explore the finer details of your coverage. Mistakes in a policy can often be fixed, but swapping policies or companies can get a bit tricker. The longer you take to shop between auto insurance companies, the better idea you’ll have of who has the best product for you at the lowest price.

What do I need to get a quote and buy insurance online?

While this may vary slightly by provider, most will request the following information to provide you with an auto insurance policy:

  • Vehicle registration and information
  • Driver’s license
  • Social security number
  • Full name and occupation
  • Mailing address
  • Current auto insurance information
  • Method of payment
  • Average frequency and distance of driving

What can prevent me from getting same-day car insurance?

The primary barrier to getting same day auto insurance is the process and your specific circumstances. Anything that complicates or delays the quote and application process can slow everything down and make it take longer for a policy to go into force. For example, if you request a quote late in the day, office hours may mean you won’t be able to finalize the process till the next business day. 

Thankfully, many of these delays can be prevented with a little foresight and preparation. Here are some of the obstacles that can slow down your auto insurance approval or policy activation:

  • Custom cars
  • Classic cars
  • Smaller companies
  • Missing or false information
  • Recent relocation or move
  • Poor driving record
  • Agent availability
  • Business hours
  • Payment delays or processing errors

What are the best same-day insurance companies?

Here are a few of the top providers by market share and whether or not they offer same-day insurance (provided there are no unexpected delays).

ProviderSame-day offered?
State Farm Groupyes
Berkshire Hathaway Groupyes
Progressive Groupyes
Allstate Ins. Groupyes
Liberty Mutual Groupyes
Farmers Ins. Groupyes
Nationwide Corp. Groupyes
American Family Ins. Groupyes
Travelers Groupyes
Auto Club Enterprises Ins. Groupyes
Erie Ins. Groupno
Kemper Corp. Groupyes
Auto-Owners Groupyes
National General Groupyes
CSAA Ins. Groupyes
Mercury General Groupyes
Metropolitan Groupno
Automobile Club MI Groupyes
Hartford Fire & Casualty Groupyes

Alternatives to buying same-day car insurance

Auto insurance is required by law in all but two U.S. states. In those states, you may be required to have proof of financial responsibility, which involves paying a fee. Whether or not you can pay that fee and obtain that proof of financial responsibility on the same day depends on your local DMV’s processes. 

If you need to obtain insurance on short-notice, same-day insurance may be the best fit for your needs and situation. However, if you have enough time to plan in advance and compare providers, you may find better rates or discounts by comparison-shopping. While some policies can be altered after the fact, doing so may be complicated and inconvenient.

Same-day car insurance FAQs

Is same-day car insurance cheaper or more expensive than regular insurance?

Since the policies are the same whether you obtain it same-day or a week after getting a quote from a chosen provider, your auto insurance will cost the same in most cases. The difference is in time you have to research or qualify for discounts, and whether or not you can get the same policy from another provider at a lower rate. By taking extra time to consider your options, you may find additional savings.

How do I qualify for same-day insurance?

To ensure a swift turn-around on your car insurance application, you’ll want to make sure that you have all the necessary documentation ready. This includes vehicle and personal information, as well as a payment method. Plan to obtain your quote and allow a few hours to finalize the process — take business hours into account. 

Can I get same-day insurance online?

Yes. Online may even be the best way to get same-day auto insurance. In general, if a car insurance company offers an online quote and application option, then there’s a chance of getting your policy through them the same day.

Do I have to pay for same-day insurance in full?

No, but you will typically have to pay the first premium and some activation fees may apply depending on the provider. Most insurance companies won’t put a policy into force until the first premium is paid.

How much does same-day car insurance cost?

Policy prices vary between companies, drivers, and coverage options, among other factors. However, it’s helpful to see what the average cost of car insurance is by state. This can provide a good starting point of how much you might expect to pay, although the final number will vary based on your specific circumstances.

The takeaway

  • Many car insurance companies offer same-day auto insurance.
  • Same-day auto insurance coverage is not inherently different from other auto insurance policies, but refers just to the speed at which you obtain a policy.
  • Specialized cars, smaller companies, problems with payments and poor driving records can slow the process.
  • Having documentation and a payment method ready is essential for getting same-day car insurance.

While not every auto insurance company offers same-day car insurance, most do. From the insurance company’s perspective, these policies aren’t necessarily different from other car insurance plans. Instead, the focus is on speeding up the process, rather than using a specialized policy. If a car insurance company offers online quotes and applications, there’s a decent chance of getting same-day car insurance.

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