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...

When you buy auto insurance to either comply with the law or to protect your vehicle, it’s important to pay attention to the term that you select.

While many people keep their insurance through the same carrier for extended periods of time, the policy doesn’t automatically stay in force when it’s set for renewal.

You must review your documents, sign disclosures, and then pay to keep the coverage going. Enter your zip code above to compare multiple car insurance companies at once!

How often do auto insurance policies renew?

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There’s not a whole bunch of options when it comes to selecting an auto insurance term.

While some carriers offer short-term policies that last just days or weeks, there are only two standard policy terms when you need a typical Personal Auto Policy.

The rules surrounding which types of terms insurers must offer will vary by state, but most states offer either 6-month policies or 12-month policies.

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How do you know your auto insurance policy is about to expire?

You aren’t just expected to remember when your policy is going to expire.

You can look up the expiration date of your policy by looking at your declarations page or your auto insurance ID cards just so that you can anticipate when you’ll get your new policy information.

Renewal documents are sent to you about 30 or 45 days before the policy expires. This documentation includes information on your new policy, your coverage, and your new policy premium.

It will also include an invoice that tells you how much to pay, the payment due date, and where to submit your payment so that you can keep your coverage active.

What happens if you don’t pay your policy by the renewal due date?

You never want to be late paying your renewal because the same grace period rules don’t apply.

When you get your renewal bill, you need to pay the bill to renew the policy and keep your coverage free of lapses.

If your policy expires and you don’t have any other coverage in place, you will have what’s called in the industry a lapse.

A lapse in insurance can put you at risk both legally and financially.

If you’re aware of the consequences of having an insurance lapse, it might push you to make paying for your renewal more of a priority.

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Legal Consequences of an Expired Auto Policy

You are legally required to carry insurance when you own a car.

Some state laws give you other alternatives, like making a large cash deposit with the state, but the most popular way to comply with insurance laws is to buy a policy.

Many states have electronic databases that keep track of the insurance information on every vehicle registered in the state. These systems are updated in real time and the DMV will send out a notice requesting proof of insurance.

If you can’t have your insurer submit proof that you haven’t, your plate will be suspended and you’ll have to pay a fine to reinstate it.

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How Expired Policies Will Affect Your Driving Record

If you drive your car with expired coverage, you could go from a good driver to a driver with a spotty record.

Many companies consider convictions for driving without insurance a moving violation instead of just an administrative type of ticket.

If you have multiple infractions for being uninsured, you could lose your driving privilege for months or years.

Not only does that put you in a bind, some states have mandatory jail sentences for offenders who have driven uninsured multiple times within a short period of time.

Expired Insurance Can Affect Your Future Insurance Rates

Paying your renewal late can affect how much you’ll pay for insurance in the future. If you have a lapse of insurance, it’s possible that your insurer will deny you the option to renew at all after a lapse of about 30 days.

If it’s only been a short lapse, the insurer should allow you to make a payment to reactivate your coverage.

The rates that you were quoted before will no longer apply if it’s been over 30 days since the coverage expired.

This can change your insurance rating and make you a high-risk driver. Higher risk means that you’ll pay higher premiums and could even lose your loyalty discount.

You Will Be At Risk of Having a Loss

If you’re not caught and you don’t experience a rate increase, you’ll still be at risk of having an uninsured loss.

Getting into an accident could land you in civil court where you’ll have to pay for damages out of pocket with money you probably don’t want to part with.

If your coverage has expired, start to get auto quotes today. You can easily compare rates and find a new policy by using an online rate comparison tool.

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