Jessica Sautter is a Content Writer for CarInsuranceCompanies.com with a Bachelor’s Degree from Eastern Michigan University in Elementary Education with a Major in Reading and a Minor in Mathematics.

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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.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager

UPDATED: Sep 21, 2020

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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.

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!

Table of Contents

What happens when my car insurance lapses?

In simple terms, your car insurance coverage has expired, and you are no longer insured!

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 the lapse was an oversight and only a couple days have passed, your car insurance company 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 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.

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Will a policy lapse affect my car insurance rates?

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 and have car insurance rates retract back to high rates comparable to a teenage driver.

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.

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!

References:

  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/