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

If you're shopping for a new car, you're probably wondering how long it will take for your new insurance plan to kick in. Find out here.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

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 Daniel Walker

UPDATED: Jun 10, 2022

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Things to remember

  • It’s usually up to you when you want the policy to go into effect
  • Knowing when your old policy expires can help you in choosing the right date to ensure there are no gaps in coverage
  • Before your policy goes into effect, you’ll typically need to make a payment on your insurance to activate your coverage Having a car means ensuring you have the right protection in case of an accident or other event that results in damage to your car. That might mean finding car insurance or switching car insurance companies.  

There are a lot of questions to ask regarding how to get auto insurance on a new car. If you’re in the process of getting new car insurance, you might find yourself wondering, “How long does it take to get car insurance?” In most cases, the minute you submit your payment for your policy, you’ll have coverage. 

How long does it take to get new car insurance?

If you’ve never had car insurance before, or it’s been a while since you switched companies, you may not know (or remember) how long the process takes. Car insurance is typically pretty easy to get and usually, you can get an effective policy within 24 hours of making your down payment.  

To complete your application, you might have to answer questions like:

  • Do you have moving violations?
  • Have you had any accidents in the past [number] of years?
  • Does the vehicle have an anti-theft device?
  • Are you a full-time student eligible for the Good Student Discount?
  • Is the vehicle financed or leased?
  • Do you have a current or prior auto insurance policy?
  • Have you had any lapses in coverage?

All told, it could take between five and fifteen minutes to complete your auto insurance application online. Once you get coverage, take the time to fully understand your insurance policy.

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When will my new auto insurance policy go into effect?

As mentioned above, your auto insurance policy will go into effect on whatever date you select. The earliest time of day the policy can start is at 12:01 a.m. on the day after the down payment has been made.

For example, if your old policy term ends on May 31st at 11:59 p.m., it would make the most sense to ensure that your new policy begins on June 1 at 12:01 a.m. Your auto insurance policies can overlap, however, if you want to be on the safe side.

Another option is to cancel your old policy right away and have your new policy start that day. You might even get a credit for the remaining days you’ve already paid for on your old policy. Contact your insurance company to see if you are entitled to a refund when you switch auto insurance. 

What You Need to Get Car Insurance

When you’re ready, there are some documents that you need to get car insurance. They include:

  • Down payment
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Vehicle information (make, model, year, etc.)
  • Driver’s license number

You’ll also need to provide contact information and details about your driving history. You may need to explain any accidents you’ve had in the past if you have any on your record. 

Do I need a down payment to get an auto insurance policy?

You’ll need a down payment to start your auto insurance policy. Typically, you’ll pay a percentage of what’s called the premium.

For example, if your total premium is $1,500, you might have to pay a down payment of $300. The remaining balance of the premium can be paid:

  • Monthly
  • Bi-monthly
  • Bi-annually

Once you pay the down payment, the policy will go into effect on whatever date you’ve selected.

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Final Thoughts on How Long it Takes for New Car Insurance to Start

New auto insurance usually kicks in quickly, typically as soon as your down payment is processed. Before you cancel your old policy, make sure that your new policy will be in effect on the date that you cancel. That way, you avoid any gaps in coverage that could lead to fines and penalties, or even personal financial responsibility for an accident.

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