Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health in...

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer

UPDATED: Jul 14, 2021

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In a nutshell...

  • Auto insurance is a mandatory financial contract that all vehicle owners buy in the state where the car is registered
  • If you fail to pay your insurance premiums by the due date, the policy will cancel and you’ll be uninsured
  • No auto insurance company will provide their clients with payment assistance to help pay for premiums due
  • One effective way to lower your amount due is to ask for discounts that you’re not receiving and may qualify for
  • Consider paying for your premiums with a credit card so that you can maintain your insurance and pay it off later

Auto insurance is one of those services that you pay for before the actual protection is provided. That means that instead of using the coverage first, you pay first so that the coverage can remain active.

If you’re not able to pay your auto insurance premiums, your policy will simply cancel for non-payment. That’s the last thing that you want to happen because it will land you in trouble with the law.

Your auto insurance payment might not be as high of a priority as rent or electricity, but it should be up there before luxuries like cable and the Internet.

If you’re unable to cover your entire premium after you’ve covered household bills that keep a roof over your head, you need to look for some type of help paying for your policy so it doesn’t cancel.

Learn more about auto insurance below and make sure to use our free insurance comparison tool today!

When will your auto insurance cancel?


Don’t start trying to make arrangements last minute when you’re short on money before your bill is due. You have a very short amount of time to make your payment before the policy terminates.

In some states, the coverage cancels right after the due date passes. That means you’ll be without coverage at 12:01 am the next morning.

In states with more strict consumer protection guidelines, companies are required to send out a termination notice in the mail before it’s processed.

When you must be given notice, you might have an extra 5, 10, 15, or 30 days to pay the past due amount before the coverage cancels.

The date of the impending termination will be written on the notice. Before sure to pay before this date to go without a lapse in coverage.

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Check Your Payment Schedule

Now that you know how long you have before your policy will officially cancel you need to check and see what your payment schedule is. Some consumers decide to pay their premiums in full at the beginning of their term.

If pay in full, you’ll pay 6 to 12 months of your premiums all at once. You’ll then be billed for the entire premium at once the next term when the policy renews.

If you’re billed for the entire premium, it doesn’t mean that you have to pay it. Virtually all of the insurers in the industry today will allow you to set up payment installment plans to pay partial premiums.

If you already have a payment plan set up, you may also be able to go from a larger installment to a monthly one.

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What are the premium installment options?

There are a few different installment plans that you can choose from. If you have a 12-month policy and you don’t intend to pay in full, you could pay monthly, quarterly, or semi-annually.

If you have a six-month policy, you’ll have the option to pay monthly or quarterly. Here’s a breakdown of each option:

  • Monthly  equal installments due on the same day of the month each month
  • Auto EFT  equal installments will be drafted from a checking account on a monthly basis
  • 5-pay or 11-pay  equal installments for either five months or eleven months (depending on term) and then one month without a payment
  • Quarterly  two equal installments for six-month policies or four equal installments for annual policies due once every three months
  • Semi-annually  pay two equal installments due every six months for annual policies only

Change Your Installment Plan


Instead of asking for help, you should consider just changing your installment option. This is only an option if you’re not yet paying monthly premiums.

If you pay annual premiums, six-month premiums, or quarterly installments, you can go from paying the larger installment to a smaller one. You’ll have to contact your insurer to change the plan, but at least you can reduce the amount due for now.

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Do auto insurance companies offer payment assistance or extensions?

If you’re having trouble paying your electric bill, your gas bill, or your cable bill, the company may offer you some type of payment assistance or payment extension.

You’re not so lucky when you’re struggling to pay your insurance bill. Auto insurance companies don’t and aren’t allowed to offer you payment assistance or extensions.

Ask Friends or Family for Temporary Help


Pride can make it difficult for you to ask people that you’re close to for financial help.

No matter how hard it is, it is important to ask for help if you need it so that you’re not paying reinstatement fees and fines later. When it’s an option, don’t pass the option up.

Pay Premiums on Credit

One of the last things that you want to do is to pay for a regular expense on credit, but if you can’t get help from a friend or a sibling, it’s an option.

You should only pay a bill with your credit card if you plan to pay off that charge within the next one or two months. If you don’t, you’ll wind up paying interest for the charge which raises how much insurance costs you.

One of the advantages of paying with your credit card is that you work on your payment history and build your credit. If you have a rewards cards, you might even earn points that can be used as a bill credit or to get travel or store gift certificates.

Don’t forget to ask for auto insurance discounts. You can’t eliminate your bill altogether but you can lower the amount due.

If you think your bills are too high, start to get quotes and compare rates from insurer to insurer. Use a quoting tool online and you can instantly shop the market.

Make sure to use our free insurance comparison tool below! Just enter your zip code and start comparing now!