How Long Does it Take to Get Car Insurance in Canada?

By Heidi Unrau | Published on 31 Jul 2023

How long does it take to get car insurance

How long does it take to get car insurance in Canada? The short and sweet answer is, if you’ve got all your ducks in a row, you can walk away with a shiny new policy within a day. But like any road trip, preparation is key. In some cases, you can get car insurance coverage in less than 30 minutes.

Before you speed off to the nearest insurance office, let’s make sure you’re familiar with the drill on how to get car insurance as quickly as possible. Think of it as a seatbelt for your time and bank account, shielding you from any financial fender benders you might encounter along the way. Here’s how long it takes to get car insurance in Canada and how to speed up the process. 

Determine your coverage needs

First, you need to determine what type of coverage you need. This depends on factors like the type of car you’re insuring, its value, how often you drive, where you live, and even your driving record. Are you a weekend cruiser or a daily commuter? Do you live in a bustling metropolis or a quiet rural town? It’s all part of the equation. For example, big-city commuters are less likely to hit wildlife than more rural small-town drivers. 

Also, how car insurance works in Canada varies from coast to coast. Different provinces require different types of coverage as the legal bare minimum. But depending on the purpose of your vehicle and your driving habits, you may need more comprehensive car insurance coverage than the legal requirement.  

How long does it take to get car insurance for the first time?

How long it takes to get car insurance in Canada depends on how prepared you are. If you’re getting car insurance for the first time ever, the process may take a little longer. Here’s the rundown of the documents you’ll typically need to secure that first car insurance policy:

1. Driver’s License

The most vital document is your driver’s license. It’s like your passport to the road. If you’ve recently immigrated to Canada and have a foreign driver’s license, check your province’s regulations about converting it to a Canadian license. In some cases, your international driving experience can be taken into account.

2. Proof of Residency

Insurance providers will also want proof of residency. This might be a utility bill, rental agreement, or mortgage statement showing your address.

3. Vehicle Information

You’re going to need the details of your new set of wheels. This includes the make, model, year, and VIN (Vehicle Identification Number). It’s the equivalent of giving your insurer the car’s unique “fingerprint.” 

4. Vehicle Purchase & Registration Details

The proof of vehicle ownership or lease agreement, along with your vehicle registration details, are needed as well. It’s proving to the insurance provider “Yep, this baby’s mine!”

5. Details of Any Licensed Drivers in Your Household

If there are other drivers living with you, like kids of driving age or anyone else who may need to use the car, their details will likely be required. Think of it as inviting your insurer to a very important dinner party. You wouldn’t forget to introduce any guests, would you?

6. Driver’s Training Certificate (for new drivers)

If you’ve recently completed a driver’s training course, be sure to include this certification. This could potentially land you a discount. It’s like a gold star on an extra credit project. 

7. Previous Insurance Details (if applicable)

This doesn’t apply if you’re a brand new driver, but if you’re new to Canada and you’ve held insurance before, even abroad, it’s worth mentioning. Every bit of driving history helps paint a picture of what kind of driver you are.

8. Payment Information

Last but certainly not least, be prepared with your preferred method of payment. You might opt for monthly auto withdrawals, or maybe you’re a pay-in-full kind of driver. For auto payments out of your account, the provider may ask for a void cheque or a pre-authorized debit form, called a PAD.

Pro Tip: If you have a decent rainy day fund, ask if there are any discounts available for paying in full upfront. 

How long does it take to renew your policy or switch providers?

Just like with the car insurance newbies, the same advice applies to the insurance veterans looking to renew an existing policy or switch providers. Having the right documentation ready can speed up the entire process and save you money. 

In addition to your driver’s license, vehicle details (make, model, year, VIN), licensed drivers in your household, and payment information, there are a few other docs you’ll need. Nothing slows down the process like a scavenger hunt for these missing documents:

1. Existing Policy Details

Think of this as a recap of your car insurance journey so far. Your current policy number, coverage details, and expiration date are critical to know, especially if you’re considering a switch.

Pro Tip: When switching providers, timing is everything. You don’t want to cancel your old policy before the new one is officially in place – that could leave you in a coverage lurch. Make sure you’ve got the keys to your new policy before saying goodbye to the old one.

2. Vehicle Registration Information

The details about your car are key. Make, model, year, and VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) will be necessary. Plus, insurers often ask for the vehicle registration number.

3. Proof of Claims-Free Driving

If you have a good driving record (we’re talking no claims here), you’ll want to show it off. A letter of experience from your current provider outlining your claims history can help you negotiate better rates with your new provider.

Shop around & compare quotes to get car insurance quickly

How long does it take to get car insurance in Canada? Depends on how and where you shop for it. There are many insurance providers in Canada, each offering its own set of benefits. Shopping around can feel like a winding road, but it’s worth it to find the best coverage and rates. 

And here’s the kicker: thanks to the wonders of technology, many insurers offer online quotes which can speed up the process significantly. You can get a quote within minutes if you’ve got speedy fingers!

Online insurance marketplaces are the fastest way to get car insurance

Online marketplaces let you compare quotes from several car insurance providers at once. They’re a great time-saver and you could potentially have a policy within a few hours or less. Remember, once you get your quote, you still need to finalize the policy with the provider, which may take additional time. Here are some of the best car insurance comparison sites in Canada


how long does it take to get car insurance? In 10 minutes or less with Surex

In a quick dash of just 10 minutes, Surex promises to dish up 10 different car insurance quotes. After providing a quote, Surex will connect you with a licensed insurance advisor to complete the process. They act like your personal insurance concierge to help you get the best possible price for your situation.


how long does it take to get car insurance? In 4 minutes or less with YouSet

In under four minutes, YouSet lets you quickly compare car and home insurance quotes from top-tier Canadian insurers. They even display various special discounts for both auto and home insurance bundled together for certain clients, if applicable. Bonus, YouSet users typically save an average of 29% on their policies.


Hardbacon is all about helping you bring home the bacon, and save it too. In just a few minutes, you can compare car insurance quotes and connect with a provider. First, choose your province. From there, you’re redirected to a trusted Hardbacon partner operating in your region, where you’ll be asked to provide some more information. Finally, add the details of your vehicle, like make, model, and mileage, along with your driving history specifics. 

From traditional car insurance brokers

A traditional car insurance broker is the next fastest route. They can save you time by doing the shopping around for you. Brokers have access to multiple insurance providers and can find a policy that fits your needs. This process could take anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days, depending on how many options the broker is reviewing and how quickly the person works. 

Directly from insurance companies

Most car insurance providers allow you to buy policies directly from them, either through their website, over the phone, or at their physical locations. This route usually takes a few hours to a day, given you have all the necessary documents at hand. How long it takes to get car insurance in Canada varies based on the insurer provider’s response times and how busy they are.

Government car insurance

Public car insurance is coverage that is provided by a provincial government instead of a private for-profit company. In provinces like British Columbia, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan, car insurance is provided by the provincial government. In these cases, the process of getting a policy is typically straightforward and can be completed in a day, sometimes as quickly as 15 minutes, given you have all the necessary documents and information.

I have lived in both Manitoba and Saskatchewan. In Manitoba, car insurance is issued by Manitoba Public Insurance, called MPI. In Saskatchewan, it’s through Saskatchewan General Insurance, called SGI. In both cases, it took me about 15 minutes tops to get an active car insurance policy from the time I sat down in the chair. 

How long does it take to get car insurance in Canada? Final thoughts

As you can see, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. How long it takes to get car insurance in Canada depends largely on how prepared you are with the necessary documents and information, how quickly the company or broker operates, and the type of insurance you choose. 

While it’s important to get car insurance coverage quickly, it’s even more important to make sure you’re getting the right policy for your needs. Like a good Canadian road trip, it’s about the journey, not just the destination. Always shop around and compare quotes – a few extra minutes could save you a ton of money.

Happy hunting!

Heidi Unrau is a senior finance journalist at Hardbacon. She studied Economics at the University of Winnipeg, where she fell in love with all-things-finance. At 25, she kicked-off her financial career in retail banking as a teller. She quickly progressed to become a Credit Analyst and then Private Lender. This hands-on industry experience uniquely positions her to provide expert insight on loans, credit scores, credit cards, debt, and banking services. She has been featured in publications such as WealthRocket, Scary Mommy, Credello, and Plooto. When she's not chasing after her two little boys, you'll find her hiding in the car listening to the Freakonomics podcast, or binge-watching financial crime documentaries with a bowl of ice cream. Fun Fact: Heidi has lived in five different provinces across Canada and her blood type is coffee.