When does car insurance start?

If you're switching car insurance policies, make sure your new car insurance starts as your old policy ends so there isn't a gap in your coverage. You can choose to have your car insurance start immediately or start retroactively if you have a policy that's going to end soon. Plan ahead so you can shop around and compare car insurance quotes online before you buy a new policy and your car insurance starts. Enter your ZIP code below to get started.

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UPDATED: May 4, 2022

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Advertiser Disclosure: We strive to help you make confident car insurance decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. We are not affiliated with any one car insurance company and cannot guarantee quotes from any single company.

Our partnerships don’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own. To compare quotes from top car companies please enter your ZIP code above to use the free quote tool. The more quotes you compare, the more chances to save.

Written By: Laura BerryReviewed By: Joel OhmanUPDATED: May 4, 2022Fact Checked

Here's what you need to know...

  • Regardless of make and model, it’s illegal to drive a car without sufficient coverage
  • You can choose to have your coverage start immediately or be retroactive from a prior date
  • If switching insurance carriers, be sure to coordinate start and ending of both policies in order to avoid a lapse of insurance

When you purchase car insurance, you decide when the policy becomes effective. You can choose for your policy to begin immediately, or you can choose a later date. You cannot choose for your car insurance to be retroactive from a prior date!

If you drive a car,  you are required to carry auto insurance. If you make a decision to switch car insurance companies, don’t cancel your old policy before you start your new policy.

If you have an accident in between your two policies, then you will be considered to be an uninsured driver.

Enter your zip code above and get your free online car insurance quotes!

Why would I choose a future start date for my insurance policy?

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There are a couple of reasons that you might choose to start your insurance policy in the future rather than immediately. The first reason is that you have a policy that is going to expire soon and you don’t want to renew.

Being prepared is important, especially if you plan on dropping an old car insurance policy. It is better to have a new plan lined up when your old one expires rather than wait until you receive an expiration notice.

By taking care of your auto insurance needs in advance, you can take the time to get car insurance quotes and shop around before you make your decision. 

Many auto insurance companies automatically renew your old policy when the time comes. You need to contact your old insurance company prior to the renewal date and let them know that you aren’t going to renew.

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Getting a New Car

Another reason that you to change your policy in advance is if you are in the process of buying a car. For example, if you make the decision to have custom features added to a car you purchase, you don’t want to pay for your insurance any longer than necessary.

Another instance would be if you purchase a vehicle from someone who will release the title on a certain date.

Keep in mind that a private seller can change their mind at the last minute, so make sure you are buying the car from a reputable source.

 Will it cost more if I delay my insurance start date?

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You will not have to pay more to delay the start of your insurance. In some cases, you may have to pay your down payment when you make the decision to start a policy.

If you pay money to your new insurance company and then decide that you don’t want the policy, you should be able to get a full refund.

If you decide to cancel after your policy has activated, then your refund will be reduced by whatever amount of insurance that you have already used.

What this means is that if you have the insurance for 10 days of a 30-day month and you pay about $85 a month, then your refund should be about $56. If you paid more than a month in advance, then your refund will be larger.

You also won’t be charged if you have your new insurance company inform your old insurance company that you are terminating your old policy. This is a complementary service meant to reduce the steps you have to take to purchase new insurance.

While not every insurance company offers this service, most do. Insurance companies want you to make a change in their favor and as such, they will jump through a lot of hoops to get your business.

Some insurance companies won’t let you purchase a policy too far in advance. You will find that typically you have two weeks to a month for your policy to start.

What is the best way to start a new insurance policy?


There are several ways that you can start your insurance policy, but the easiest way is for you to use the Internet to get this done. The Internet is especially handy because you can do all of your quotes online as well.

You can actually get a complete policy without ever having to speak with an agent. You can even sign your paperwork online with an electronic signature.

In most cases, you will also have the option of printing your card on your printer immediately so you have proof of coverage.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t speak with an agent if you want to. If you have a question about anything a car insurance quote, you can call the company directly and speak with an agent.

Many companies also provide a live chat feature online. This allows you to “speak” with an agent without having to talk with them. Some people prefer this method of communicating while others want to talk to a person on the phone.

Before you purchase any car insurance at all, you need to take the time to shop around for a car insurance policy. By using a free quote tool, you are providing yourself with additional information about car insurance.

You will be able to find out who has the lowest prices and then make a decision based on your need as well as your budget.

Enter your zip code below and get multiple online car insurance quotes now!

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.

A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Written by Laura Berry
Former Insurance Agent Laura Berry

Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP® Joel Ohman

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