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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 affordable car insurance online while picking out your new car, find the right coverage for 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 during your search for the cheapest car insurance.

If you're looking for same-day free car insurance quotes, The Zebra's insurance experts are here to help

Key takeaways
  • The easiest way to get same-day car insurance is to purchase a policy online
  • Shopping for cheap insurance online is perfectly safe and reliable
  • Almost every major carrier offers online quotes and purchasing
  • It can be cheaper to buy a policy online, as there are no agency fees or markups

Average car insurance rates

For those looking for the best car insurance rates online, take a look at the average auto insurance rates from auto insurers offering same-day car insurance in the U.S.

Company Avg. Annual Premium Avg. Monthly Premium
Travelers $1,342 $112
USAA $1,365 $114
Nationwide $1,476 $123
GEICO $1,542 $129
American Family $1,568 $131
State Farm $1,569 $131
Farmers $1,786 $149
Progressive $1,882 $157
Allstate $2,413 $201
Updated: 09/29/22.

Dynamic auto insurance data methodology

Methodology: The auto insurance rates displayed above and throughout this page are dynamic, meaning the data will refresh when the most recent information is made available. Rates are based on a sample driver profile — a 30-year-old single male driver with a Honda Accord and full coverage. This profile was adjusted based on common pricing factors used by major car insurance companies, like age, coverage level, driving record and others.


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

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

  1. Driver's license number, date of birth, address, 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.
car with insurance information

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.


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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. It's good to check on this before you start looking for auto insurance rates so you can accurately compare the coverage options.

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 current 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, which gives you more flexibility when it comes to finding cheaper car insurance.


Is it okay to buy car insurance online?

Yes! To consumers who have historically purchased insurance over the phone or in person, buying a policy online may seem less secure. However, this is not the case! In a world where technology is ever-expanding, car insurance companies and comparison websites like The Zebra have made it easy and safe to shop for and purchase insurance online. It's an efficient way to find the best cheap car insurance for your situation from a large selection of car insurance companies, all in one place. This also means you'll have more rates to compare so you can make an informed decision as a driver and vehicle owner. In many cases, it may even be cheaper to sign up for a policy online, as quotes are free and there are no agency fees or markups. If you've recently received quotes but haven't yet purchased your policy, you may even be able to retrieve a saved quote at a later time. This way, you can consider both the coverage and the car insurance rates without feeling rushed.

Learn more about how insurance comparison websites like The Zebra work.

Comparison websites like The Zebra have made it easy and safe to shop for and purchase insurance online.


How long does it take to get car insurance online?

Once you're ready to start looking at auto insurance rates, it can be a fairly quick process. If you're getting a new quote from a car 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 provider and your auto insurance coverage level (such as full coverage, or simply the minimum coverage required for your state).

If you have an established policy with an insurance company, it should only take a few minutes to get an online car 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. Current policyholders may be able to make policy changes and see auto insurance rates through their insurer's mobile app if available. If you've been with the same car insurance company for a while, it can still be a great idea to shop around to check for a lower rate. You can also inquire with your current insurer about any car insurance discounts you might be eligible for, especially if you've moved, changed careers or added more vehicles to the household, which could help lower your rates.


Reasons why you may not be able to get car insurance immediately

When drivers get quotes, insurance companies use the information submitted to generate pricing. The biggest reasons you may not be able to get same-day car insurance are if some of this crucial information is missing, or if circumstances require that insurer to assess whether it can provide coverage for you. Some examples that could prevent you from getting same-day car insurance include:

  • Not having a permanent address: Insurance companies use your location as a factor in your quote, so may not sell you a policy if the insurer can't verify your address.
  • Having too many accidents or citations on your record: This is a sign of liability to insurance companies, meaning you could be too risky of a client. It could be more difficult to find car insurance coverage depending on the state of your driving history, but some companies will offer you a policy - it just might require more research. Learn more about how to find insurance as a high-risk driver.
  • You drive a unique, rare or classic car: If you drive a vehicle that isn't listed in a company's database, it could require more work to find a policy. Not all car insurance companies will sell you a policy for a rare or classic car; you may need to get quotes from insurers that specialize in classic cars, like Hagerty.
  • Poor credit: Your credit score is one of many factors that are evaluated when getting quotes for car insurance. Depending on your score and the information available, this could lead to a delay if an insurer needs more information.

If you can't get a car insurance quote online, we recommend calling the insurance company and getting personalized help from one of the company's representatives.


Understanding "one-day" insurance

Technically, all car insurance is "one-day" car insurance, as you can activate your policy immediately and terminate it 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

Car insurance is required by law unless you live in New Hampshire, where proof of insurance is not a requirement. By canceling your policy after leaving 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.

insurance contract

3. Leased and financed vehicles often have contractual stipulations requiring insurance

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. By shopping around and comparing car insurance rates, you can make the choice for yourself when it comes to the best car insurance for your needs, without the extra costs being passed on.

 

4. You could be putting yourself at risk on the road

If you're found as the at-fault driver after an accident without an active car insurance policy, you will most likely be ticketed, face license suspension and can 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 auto insurance rate you will pay. There are affordable options, and you can compare auto insurance policies online to make sure you're getting the best rate. Many companies also offer a variety of car insurance discounts that you may be eligible for. Also, keep in mind different coverage types as you shop around; finding cheap auto insurance is great, but the coverage needs to make sense for your specific vehicle and circumstances. The cheapest rate may not necessarily be the best policy for you in the long run.


Instant car insurance quotes: what to consider

Every major car 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 rates from national and local insurance providers.

Find the right policy in just a few minutes.

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Affordable same-day auto insurance FAQs

What is the cheapest online car insurance? Chevron down icon

Several major insurance companies offer competitive auto insurance rates online. USAA, Travelers and Nationwide 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? Chevron down icon

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 car insurance rates and use a tool like The Zebra to compare quotes once you're ready to buy.

Can I purchase auto insurance online? Chevron down icon

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.

Is same-day car insurance more expensive? Chevron down icon

Car insurance companies don't charge you extra just because you want your policy active immediately. However, you could potentially save more money by buying in advance. Some insurers offer a small discount for buying a policy in advance.

Is same-day auto insurance retroactive? Chevron down icon

No, a car insurance policy never covers you retroactively; your policy will clearly state the time period in which your coverage is in force. If you get into an accident and buy a car insurance policy that same day, your claim will be denied and you may face your policy getting voided due to attempted fraud.

What do I need to get same-day car insurance? Chevron down icon

To get car insurance quotes, you'll need this information handy at the very minimum: your address, driver's license, vehicle identification number (VIN), your vehicle's make and model and details about your insurance history and any recent accidents or tickets.


RECENT QUESTIONS

I am visiting my daughter for two weeks and am looking for short term insurance

Your best option would be to have your daughter contact her insurance company about possibly adding you as a driver to her policy for the 2 week timeframe. They may not even require that you be listed since you will only be driving temporarily, but she will need to check with her company on the specifics of covering you.
Dec 4, 2017 Austin, TX

Temporary car insurance for foreign driver in US

Since you will be driving your friend's car, you will need to be listed on their insurance policy as a driver. Since your friend is the owner of the car, they are required to maintain insurance on it.
Dec 29, 2018 Bozeman, MT

Do I have a legal three-day window to drive to NY in my new car without plates?

There is no legal window where you can drive without the plates. If you are buying through a dealership they should be able to assist you on behalf of the state of Virginia in obtaining a temporary plate.
Nov 1, 2020 Fredericksburg, VA

Is there a temporary insurance policy while I'm test driving a used car to protect me before I actually buy it?

There really isn't a global policy that can be used for what you are needing, nor does "temporary insurance" exist. The good news is most insurance plans are paid month-to-month and have very minimal penalties for canceling — if any penalty at all.
Aug 22, 2019 Grand Marais, MN

Kristine Lee photo
Kristine LeeManager, Content and Data

Kristine is a licensed insurance agent who joined The Zebra in 2019 as an in-house content researcher and writer. Before joining The Zebra, she was a freelance copywriter for over five years. 

She is an authority on all things insurance and covers the ins and outs of auto, home, life and renters insurance. Her specialty is in providing data-backed insights and information to help insurance shoppers make informed decisions.

Kristine's insurance expertise and research have been cited by publications such as CNBC, BadCredit.orgCar and Driver, Business Insider, Yahoo!, The Balance, Nationwide and Elephant.

About The Zebra

The Zebra is not an insurance company. We publish data-backed, expert-reviewed resources to help consumers make more informed insurance decisions.

  • The Zebra’s insurance content is written and reviewed for accuracy by licensed insurance agents.
  • The Zebra’s insurance content is not subject to review or alteration by insurance companies or partners.
  • The Zebra’s editorial team operates independently of the company’s partnerships and commercialization interests, publishing unbiased information for consumer benefit.
  • The auto insurance rates published on The Zebra’s pages are based on a comprehensive analysis of car insurance pricing data, evaluating more than 83 million insurance rates from across the United States.