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 insuran...

Full Bio →

Written by Rachael Brennan
Licensed Agent for 15 Years Rachael Brennan

Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

Full Bio →

Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager Chris Harrigan

UPDATED: Jun 21, 2022

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right car insurance coverage choices.

Advertiser Disclosure: We strive to help you make confident car insurance decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. We are not affiliated with any one car insurance company and cannot guarantee quotes from any single company.

Our car insurance industry partnerships don’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own. To compare quotes from many different car insurance companies please enter your ZIP code on this page to use the free quote tool. The more quotes you compare, the more chances to save.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.

Key takeaways...

  • When car coverage lapses, the driver is considered a great liability since they have no insurance
  • If you go longer than six months without insurance, you would be classified as high-risk and be subject to heavy fines and penalties
  • Car insurance companies are required to report any drivers with a policy lapse to the DMV
  • If your policy lapses, this may be a good time to do some comparison shopping for better car insurance

There are many reasons why a car insurance policy will lapse. From failure to pay premiums to simply an oversight on a driver’s part, many drivers experience some minor lapse in coverage during their lifetime.

When your car insurance coverage has lapsed, you will be driving with great liability as you essentially have no car insurance.

In states with a minimum coverage requirement, everyone must have current insurance to drive legally, and your driving privileges may be revoked if you are caught driving without insurance. You could possibly even face jail time if you have an at-fault accident while uninsured.

Most states require liability insurance coverage only, which is made up of bodily injury and property damage liability coverage.

Take note of your car insurance premium due dates or take advantage of full policy prepayment as many car insurance companies offer discounts for paying the policy in full.

If you’d like to ensure you’re fully covered for a good price, enter your ZIP code above and compare three to four policies today!

What happens when my car insurance lapses?

In simple terms, your car insurance coverage has expired, and you are no longer insured! In many states, you must maintain continuous coverage to be driving legally.

It’s critical you do something about this right away as many states require car insurance companies to automatically report any lapse in coverage to the DMV.

Should you be pulled over for any infraction and the law enforcement official checks your car insurance coverage, heavy fines and penalties may come (in addition to the great liability you have driving around with no liability insurance).

If your auto insurance lapse was an oversight and only a couple days have passed, your car insurance carrier may agree to reinstate the coverage, but they have no obligation.

One of the most important things to remember when getting a policy expiration notice is the date of lapse usually corresponds to a time one second after midnight. What does this mean?

Let’s say you get a policy expiration notice on December 12th. Your policy will lapse at 12.01 AM on December 12th, meaning you have NO car insurance on the 12th. Your payment must be made by December 11th.

If you know you will not be able to make your payment on time, talk to your auto insurance company about your payment options. They may be able to work something out with you.

If your car insurance company does not agree to renew your coverage, then it’s time to apply for a new policy as soon as possible.

For many consumers, this is a time to start car insurance comparison shopping since they are frustrated with their previous car insurance company.

However, you need to do something fast since, no matter how frustrated you are, the fact is you are operating a vehicle with no insurance and could be subject to heavy fines and/or criminal charges should an accident happen.

Compare Car Insurance Companies

Compare quotes from the top car insurance companies and save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Compare quotes from the top car insurance companies and save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Will a lapse of coverage affect my car insurance rate?

Most car insurance companies will not penalize you for having a short lapse in coverage, although it depends on the provider.

If you ever go longer than six months without car insurance, it’s possible you will be considered high risk. High-risk drivers pay significantly more for auto insurance coverage.

Do I have to contact the DMV when my car insurance lapses?

Getting car insurance after a lapse may be more difficult, depending on where you live. State laws differ on this rule, but most states do not require an individual to notify the DMV if they no longer have car insurance. Some states have a grace period before coverage is considered lapsed, while others do not.

What is required is that car insurance companies report ANY drivers who have a policy lapse.

So you may very well get a letter from the DMV requesting proof of insurance and be subject to a filing fee and even possibly a driver’s license or vehicle registration suspension should you not send in proof of your new car insurance policy within a specified timeframe.

If your policy has lapsed, contact the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state right away to learn about your local laws regarding a lapse in car insurance coverage.

States take car insurance laws very seriously. The amount of liability you pose to other drivers as an uninsured driver is very high in addition to the personal liability you take on!

Compare New Car Insurance Companies

Sometimes it takes a lapse in car insurance for people to shop for car insurance. While having no car insurance is extremely risky, shopping for car insurance can end up helping you get better coverage at lower rates.

Most drivers stick with the same car insurance company for long periods of time, and when you are forced to get car insurance, it’s easy to start a car insurance comparison search online.

Many providers even allow you to print temporary or permanent ID cards online so you can have car insurance coverage in no time.

Although, the key to getting the best car insurance rates will start with education. When was the last time you learned about car insurance discounts or the types of car insurance?

Sit home (don’t drive), spend a few hours learning about car insurance, and compare quotes. This small effort on your part can potentially save you $100s a year in premiums.

Need car insurance coverage? Enter your ZIP code below and get FREE auto insurance quotes today!


  1. https://www.thebalance.com/maximum-number-of-car-insurance-claims-527117
  2. http://traffic.findlaw.com/drivers-license-vehicle-info/what-conduct-could-lead-to-drivers-license-suspension.html
  3. https://www.thebalance.com/avoid-a-car-insurance-lapse-527455
  4. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-dangerous-rise-in-uninsured-drivers/
  5. https://www.thebalance.com/proof-of-insurance-101-527410
  6. https://www.carsdirect.com/car-insurance/10-car-insurance-discounts-that-can-save-you-money
  7. https://wallethub.com/edu/types-of-car-insurance/9636/