What happens if my car insurance lapses?

Short lapses in auto insurance coverage are somewhat common and reinstating your policy or purchasing a new one can be quick and easy. Carrying auto liability coverage is required for drivers in almost every state, so it's important to get insurance again as soon as possible.

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Calendar with a date circled and on that date it states that an insurance payment is due

What is a car insurance lapse grace period?

Your car insurance policy won't be cancelled immediately because you miss a payment. Auto insurance companies are required by state law to provide notice before cancelling your policy. Depending on the state, you'll usually have between 10 and 20 days. Your company will notify you by mail or email before cancelling your coverage.

What happens if you miss a car insurance payment by a few days?

Auto insurance companies typically offer a grace period for missed car insurance payments, so a payment that's a few days late shouldn't pose a problem. Make your payment as soon as possible, as the car insurance grace period can vary depending on your insurer. When you sign up for Progressive's automatic payment option, you'll earn a discount on auto insurance and avoid missing a future payment.

Learn about grace periods for purchasing a new vehicle.

Consequences of a car insurance lapse

Not having insurance: If your auto insurance expires or is cancelled, your biggest concern is not having coverage. That means if you cause an accident and injure someone else or damage their car, you'll have to pay completely out of pocket. Same goes for damage to your car. Also, if your insurance lapsed and the policy can't be reinstated, you won't be able to backdate coverage to cover an accident that happened in the past. Getting into an accident without car insurance could be an enormous and life-changing expense. The other driver could take legal action, which could cost you money or future wages.

License suspension or fine: In some situations, the department of motor vehicles in your state will be notified that you are without insurance. They can then suspend your license or fine you. You may also be required to carry an SR-22 for several years, which is an added expense on your next auto policy.

Rate increase: Even one day without coverage can result in a higher car insurance rate, depending on the circumstances. Starting a new policy is usually costlier than staying continuously insured. At Progressive, you may not be eligible for our Continuous Insurance Discount if you have gone more than one month without insurance.

Repossession: Your vehicle could be repossessed by your lending or leasing company. Most lenders require comprehensive and collision coverage on the vehicle as part of the terms of the loan or lease.

What if I no longer need car insurance?

If you're not driving, you obviously won't need auto insurance. Perhaps you'll be traveling out of the country, biking, or just bumming rides off friends. Keep in mind, that if you get behind the wheel again, you might pay an increased rate. That's because insurance companies may consider you a riskier driver than those who keep active policies.

Car insurance lapse for military personnel

At Progressive, you'll still get our Continuous Insurance Discount if you had a gap in insurance because you were deployed overseas.

Can my other insurance policies lapse?

Yes, your other insurance policies can lapse. A lapse in home or life insurance often occurs when you stop paying the premium.

What to do if you have a lapse in car insurance

  1. Call

    Call your previous insurance company and find out if your coverage has lapsed and, if so, how long you've been without car insurance coverage. If you recently missed a payment, there's a chance your insurance hasn't been cancelled yet.

  2. See if your policy can be reinstated

    If your policy was cancelled, find out if you can renew your auto insurance policy. That means you'll maintain continuous insurance with the policy you had previously. When reinstating, you'll pay the past due balance, and you'll be covered without any lapse.

  3. If your policy can't be reinstated, get a new one

    You'll then want to buy a new auto insurance policy right away. Starting a new policy may be more expensive, but you need to be insured before you drive. Many companies, including Progressive, can start your coverage right away.

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