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...

  • Car insurance policies vary in terms of when they expire
  • The policy expiration is printed on the insurance card
  • You have the ability to set the expiration of a policy

It’s important to know when your car insurance policy expires to ensure you don’t run into problems of not having the needed coverage.

When your policy expires will vary based on the insurance company you have as well as your individual requests. It’s important to know how you can impact the expiration date as well as the renewal process.

Compare car insurance quotes by entering your zip code above. You may be surprised by how much you could save on your car insurance premiums.

Choosing the Expiration of Your Car Insurance Policy

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You are often able to choose when your car insurance policy expires. Most insurance companies set the policies to expire after six months.

This timeframe gives the insurance company a chance to review all of your information once again to determine if anything has changed.

If you have experienced traffic citations, a car accident, or anything else, your premium might go up from what it was during the past six months.

Some insurance companies will allow for insurance to be in place for one year after the initial set up. This option is often available once a customer has proven themselves to be a safe driver for several years.

If you are interested in a one-year policy as opposed to a six-month one, you will need to check with your insurance company to see if the option is available.

Various scenarios might require you to have a shorter expiration as well. These scenarios could include:

  • If you choose to move out of the state (or country)
  • If you only have a vehicle for a limited time

For example, if you live in a state that requires insurance if you have a vehicle registered, you might need to have a temporary policy until you are able to sell a vehicle.

It’s best to communicate your needs to the insurance company. This communication will ensure that you have the necessary coverage and ensure that you never have a policy expire out from under you.

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How to Handle the Renewal Process

Insurance renewals are a relatively simple process. Most insurance companies will renew your policy automatically. In some instances, you might need to check a box online to ensure that this automatic renewal happens.

Prior to your policy renewing, you might want to get quotes from other insurance companies. These quotes will allow you to determine whether you are getting the most affordable policy that is available to you.

If you decide to switch companies, you will need to inform your current insurance company of the changes.

You then have the ability to determine when your existing policy will expire. If you want to make the switch immediately, your existing insurance company will often be able to refund the premiums you have already pre-paid.

Often, insurance companies will communicate renewals with you. This communication will allow you to do the following:

  • Increase coverage
  • Decrease coverage
  • Change your deductible

What happens if your policy expires and you are unaware of it?

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In most instances, car insurance will renew automatically. Once your policy expires, it will automatically renew for another six months (or year, based upon what was in place the last time).

Not all policies will renew automatically, however. If you get into an accident or are pulled over for a traffic violation, law enforcement will ask for proof of insurance. If you show them an expired card, it can prove to be problematic.

In some instances, you will be able to call the insurance company and confirm that your policy is still valid. If it is expired, though, you are then identified as driving without insurance. This driving without insurance leads to various penalties.

Some of the penalties you could incur if you don’t have insurance are:

  • Fines
  • Points on your license
  • Increased premiums on future insurance policies
  • The need for an SR-22 certificate
  • Jail time

You don’t want to incur any of these penalties. It’s important to know when your policy expires and how to ensure that your policy renews automatically. Otherwise, you could find yourself in a situation where you are unable to comply with your state laws.

Knowing when your insurance policy expires will prove to be useful. It ensures you take the needed action to secure a policy. It also eliminates the need to deal with penalties because of not having sufficient coverage.

Insurance quotes are easy to obtain and it’s possible to cancel a policy at any time in order to switch over to another company. Enter your zip code below to see how much you could save on auto insurance.