How to get car insurance

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Driving is one of the more liberating privileges in life, but it can lose a lot of that appeal if you find yourself without auto insurance. Not only is driving without insurance likely to land you a ticket, but it prevents that peace of mind that comes from knowing you and your vehicle are covered if an accident occurs. If you find yourself in this situation, you might be wondering how to get car insurance. If so, you are in the right place. In this article, we will walk through how to shop for car insurance and how to buy car insurance, all in six easy steps.

How to shop for car insurance

When learning how to shop for car insurance, there can be a little case-by-case variance. However, whether buying auto insurance for the first time or renewing your car insurance, there are six main steps to follow.

1. Assemble paperwork

The first thing to do is to gather and organize all the paperwork and documentation you will need. To buy car insurance, you will need a copy of your driver’s license, vehicle registration, a voided check (or the routing and account numbers for your bank account) and a current declaration document if your vehicle is already insured. This step may take a while if you do not have all the paperwork on hand, but each of these documents is needed at some point in the process.

2. Decide how to apply

With your paperwork taken care of, it is time to determine how you will apply for car insurance. With most auto insurance companies, you can apply in person or over the internet on a company website. Some insurance companies may let you apply by phone or email, as well. Your choice can affect how long the application takes, but even if you speak with an agent in-person, the process is quick.

3. Determine coverage type and amount

For some, this is the trickiest step. Before you can apply for auto insurance, you must decide what kind of insurance you want, and how much of it you want. These types can include basic liability, collision, extended, full coverage, guaranteed auto protection, comprehensive coverage, personal injury protection and more.

To determine coverage amounts, you can look at your state’s legal auto insurance minimum requirements. You may want more coverage than the minimum, but it is illegal to drive with less. After this, if things like the value of your car or your personal assets are above average, then you will want to increase your coverage accordingly. Some standard advice is to ensure that you have liability coverage equal to or higher than the net worth of your assets.

4. Shop around and compare companies

Now that you know what kind of policy you want, it is time to find the right insurance company. While many components of auto insurance are similar across the industry, premiums, coverages, discounts, exemptions and many other details can vary between insurance companies. By knowing the coverage types and limits that you want, you can get quotes from multiple companies and see which will offer the best rates.

5. Fill out an application

Now it is time to contact your insurance company and fill out an application. Remember, this can usually be done by phone, in-person, over email or on a company website. Much of the information needed to fill out your application can be found in the paperwork you assembled in step one and the policy specifics you decided upon in step three. Beyond these details, you will need to provide payment information. This is where the voided check or routing numbers come in.

Once the application is complete, submit it and wait for a notification of approval. You will usually receive these notifications by email but may be able to request a phone call.

6. Pay your first premium

The work is done, and the application has been accepted. All that is left now is to pay your first premium to get the policy activated. After this point, your auto insurance will remain in force for as long as you pay the premiums on it.

Frequently asked questions

How long does it take to get car insurance?

Buying car insurance can be a fast process. From submitting your application to receiving approval can take as little as a few minutes or as much as a couple of hours. Once you receive approval, you can send your first premium payment. As soon as the company gets that payment, your car insurance will be active.

How much does car insurance cost?

The cost can vary a great deal between policy types, coverage amounts, vehicles and locations. That said, the average cost of auto insurance in the United States is around $1,500 per year.

Do I need insurance for each driver?

No, in general, car insurance follows the vehicle and not the driver. However, it may be necessary to have individuals named within your policy if they will be driving the car regularly.

Written by
Joshua Cox-Steib
Joshua Cox-Steib has two years of experience in writing for insurance domains such as,,,, and more. His work has also been featured on such sites as and His insurance writing career has spanned across multiple product lines, with a primary focus on auto insurance, life insurance, and home insurance.