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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Written by Rachael Brennan
Licensed Insurance Agent Rachael Brennan

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 Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jun 29, 2022

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In a nutshell...

  • Car insurance is required for every driver and is enforced by each state in the U.S.
  • If you do not have at least the required amount of car insurance at all times while you are driving, you are uncovered and are not complying with state law
  • If you stop paying for your car insurance and the company cancels your coverage, you will have a lapse in car insurance coverage until you find a new policy
  • If you plan to switch car insurance policies and do not pick up new coverage before you cancel your other policy, then you will have a lapse in car insurance coverage
  • It is important to never let your car insurance lapse because it will be reflected on your insurance record and could end up in you paying more for a policy in the future

If you have a lapse in car insurance coverage, it means that you do not have the car insurance that you are required to have under state law.

Unless you are not planning to drive a car on any public roads, a lapse in auto insurance is technically against the law and can result in you paying a fine or having your license suspended if you are pulled over by a police officer.

One of the common reasons that someone would have a lapse in coverage is that they did not pay their required car insurance premium or if they failed to get the proper insurance before they canceled their previous policy.

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Complying With the State Requirements of Auto Insurance Coverage


Every state in the U.S. has a different set of requirements for car insurance coverage.

While it is true that you should always have the required amount of insurance to comply with the state law, car insurance also exists to protect your assets when you are involved in an accident.

It is never a good idea to just try and see how little coverage you can get away with having.

It would be a mistake to think that complying with state car insurance requirements means that you just need to take out insurance when you buy a car or register one with the state DMV.

Part of having the required car insurance in your state is to keep paying for that insurance.

If you are not paying for your car insurance, then your insurance company is well within its rights to cancel your coverage and deny any claims that would have come up since you stopped paying your car insurance premiums.

Another possibility is that the insurance company could tell you that your policy is not going to be renewed after the current policy term expires, which means that you would immediately have to search for new car insurance coverage.

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How to Avoid Having a Lapse in Car Insurance Coverage

The best way to make sure that you never have a gap or lapse in car insurance coverage is to always pay your car insurance premium on time.

If you are not going to be able to make your car insurance payment on time, then you should alert your car insurance company so that they can either move your payment date around or reduce your coverage limits.

This will lower your premium and help you to be able to make the payment.

When you are shopping around for car insurance, it is important to verify that any company that gives you a quote is financially stable. A good place to start for this is the department of insurance for your state.

You can find out which insurance companies are licensed to operate and then check into credit rankings to make sure that the company insurance is going to be around in the long run.

One of the ways that you can end up having a lapse in your insurance coverage is that your insurance company goes out of business and can no longer provide you the insurance coverage that you signed up for.

If you find that your coverage has ended for any reason, you need to move quickly to pick up the required coverage as fast as you can.

If your insurance was canceled because you did not pay the premium, then you might end up paying a bit more when you go to get the coverage you need.

This is because insurance companies submit information to a database on policyholders who do not maintain constant coverage or who have a history of not paying their required premiums.

The Final Word on a Lapse in Your Car Insurance Coverage


Having a lapse in your auto insurance coverage means that you are not covered any car insurance policy for a certain period of time.

This is a dangerous circumstance in terms of your own personal liability and because you could be pulled over for violating state law by not having the required auto insurance coverage.

A lapse in your insurance coverage can come up if you have your policy canceled for you not paying your premiums.

Your auto insurance policy typically auto-renews after the current term expires, but if you switch to a new policy, you need to make sure that your new coverage kicks in before your old one expires or is canceled.

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