How to get instant auto insurance online

Technically, every auto insurance policy could be described as “same-day car insurance.” You can shop around for car insurance, find a rate you like and buy it when you're at the dealership — all in one day. Furthermore, any auto quote you receive should come free of charge. Insurance companies advertise “free and instant auto insurance quotes,” implying other sites or companies charge for them. Quotes are complimentary across the board and won't impact your current car insurance premium, making it easy to buy cheap car insurance online. Don't hesitate to compare insurance rates and weigh your options in your search for cheap auto insurance.

If you're looking for same-day free car insurance quotes, The Zebra's insurance experts are here to help. Below are average auto insurance rates from car insurance companies offering same-day car insurance in the U.S. (review our methodology).

AVERAGE RATES FROM TOP CAR INSURANCE COMPANIES
CarrierAvg. 6 Mo. PremiumAvg. Monthly Premium
Allstate$1,268$211
Farmers$1,064$177
GEICO$849$142
Liberty Mutual$1,288$215
Nationwide$894$149
Progressive$881$147
State Farm$702$117
USAA$638$106

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What information is required to get an instant online car insurance quote?

To get an accurate insurance quote as quickly as possible, have the following information available.

  1. Driver's license numbers, date of birth, addresses, living situation, marital status, and other information for any driver on the policy.
  2. The vehicle identification number (VIN) of the vehicle for which you're getting a quote. Every vehicle, regardless of whether it’s from a private seller or still at a dealership, has a VIN. This number is unique to every vehicle, tracking its history. If you can’t provide a VIN, be sure you can provide the year, make, and model. Most insurance companies will not issue a policy from a quote without a VIN.
  3. Mileage on the car.
  4. Date of purchase of the vehicle.
  5. Name of the registered owner.
  6. Recent driving history of any motorist(s) listed on the policy, including accidents, citations, claims, or completed driving courses.
  7. Details on your car insurance coverage background — some companies require at least six months of continuous coverage prior to issuing a policy.

Of course, this is not a set-in-stone list of information needed to receive a car insurance quote. If you're at a dealership and need car insurance immediately to drive off the lot, you might be able to simplify this list by just including your information (for example, if you have multiple drivers). Remember to call your insurance provider at a later date and update this information. This list will be helpful to have handy if you're wanting instant proof of insurance for your new vehicle.

 

Understanding "one-day" insurance

Technically, all car insurance is "one-day" car insurance, as you can terminate your policy at any point. However, being covered by an insurer for only a single day can land you in trouble for several reasons.

  1. You may not get your down payment back. Most insurance companies require a down payment — at a cost of 30 to 45 days worth of premium. If you cancel your insurance policy the day after it was issued, you won't be guaranteed to get your money back for that month. Learn more about auto insurance with no down payment.
  2. You are legally required to have insurance unless you live in New Hampshire, where proof of insurance is not a requirement. By canceling your policy in order to leave a dealership, you run the risk of being ticketed for driving without insurance. While rules vary by state, common consequences of driving without insurance include having your vehicle impounded, license suspension and costly citations that could tarnish your driving record.
  3. Leased and financed vehicles often come with contractual stipulations requiring insurance coverage. If you're leasing or financing your vehicle through the dealership or a bank, they typically require you to maintain full coverage (collision and comprehensive coverage) on your vehicle in addition to liability insurance. By canceling your policy, you are putting your vehicle in danger of repossession if they (your bank or dealership) find out. Moreover, you could be saddled with forced insurance — where a bank or lender pays the auto insurance bill before passing along the costs to you. Forced insurance coverage is typically much more expensive than getting an auto insurance policy yourself.
  4. You could be putting yourself at risk on the road. If you're found at fault after an accident without an active car insurance policy, you will most likely be ticketed, face license suspension, and you could even be sued for property or liability damages.

Although car insurance can be expensive, it’s cheaper than the world of trouble you can get yourself into if you’re caught driving uninsured or get into an at-fault accident without insurance. The financial responsibility you could face in those circumstances — costs for bodily injury and property damage can get steep depending on the collision's severity — is typically far worse than the car insurance rate you will pay. There are affordable options, but finding an auto insurance policy online may require comparing car insurance rates.

 

Should I get car insurance before I buy a car?

It depends. If you buy or finance your vehicle through a dealership, a full coverage auto insurance policy may be required in order to drive the vehicle off the lot.

This may change if you buy from a private dealer. Some insurance policies have a grace period for coverage extensions for newly acquired vehicles, meaning, the highest level of coverage you have on your vehicle(s) can be extended for a short period of time. If the private dealer does not require you to immediately add the vehicle to your insurance policy, you could buy the vehicle prior to insuring it. As long as there's no lienholder and you're the sole owner of the vehicle you purchase, you are free to choose your own coverage options.

 

How long does it take to get car insurance online?

If you're getting a new policy with an insurance company, you should be able to get a car insurance policy in less than an hour. Because you are starting an entirely new policy, you are required to make a down payment in order for your policy to be considered active. The amount of your down payment will depend on your insurance company and your auto insurance coverage level.

If you have an established policy with an insurance company, it should only take a few minutes to get an online auto insurance quote — either online or with the help of an experienced insurance agent. Be sure to have all the necessary information on hand to streamline this process.

 

Instant car insurance quotes: what to consider

Every major insurance company should be able to provide same-day or instant car insurance. If you're looking for car insurance in order to legally drive your new vehicle off the lot of the dealership, make sure you have all the information ready to make the process as painless as possible. If you opt to forgo car insurance — or only purchase it temporarily before dropping coverage — you risk being caught driving without insurance, and the consequences you will face will be much more costly than an elevated insurance premium. Enter your ZIP code below to see cheap car insurance quotes from national and local insurance providers.

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Affordable same-day auto insurance FAQs

What is the cheapest online car insurance?

Several major insurance companies offer competitive auto insurance rates online. Nationwide, GEICO and Progressive are the three most affordable auto insurance companies with policies available online, according to The Zebra's research. If you're in need of quick same-day auto insurance quotes, use The Zebra to compare quotes for free from these top insurance companies. 

Is it cheaper to buy auto insurance online?

Buying car insurance online can be quicker, easier and cheaper than working with a traditional brick-and-mortar agency. Comparing car insurance quotes online allows you to explore all of your options — from major insurers to smaller local companies — and to find the best deal for your particular driving profile. Do some research to understand what goes into auto insurance rates and use a tool like The Zebra to compare quotes once you're ready to buy.

Can I purchase auto insurance online?

Many car insurance companies sell policies online, and online services such as The Zebra allow you to compare rates and purchase a policy in just a few clicks. Buying auto insurance online gives you the opportunity to do in-depth research before purchasing.

 

Methodology

In order to find same-day car insurance quotes, we used a 30-year-old male driver with a Honda Accord, a commonly driven vehicle in the U.S. We sourced rates from every ZIP code across the U.S. — more than 50,000 of them — to generate average insurance rates. For our insurance coverage, we selected 50/100/50 liability rates with $500 comprehensive and collision coverage deductibles. These coverage limits are based on the average preferences most consumers have in the U.S. For more information, see The Zebra's industry-leading State of Insurance analysis. Learn more about our methodology.

 

Kristine Lee
Kristine Lee LinkedIn

Kristine is a licensed insurance agent and one of The Zebra’s in-house content strategists. With a background in copywriting, she covers the ins and outs of the home and car insurance industries. She has contributed to numerous publications focused on the nuances of insurance, including Automoblog, USInsuranceAgents.com, and BestCompany.com.