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...

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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: Nov 2, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Each time the policy comes up for renewal, your policy is underwritten and reassessed
  • Remember, an insurance company does not have to renew your policy if you are a higher risk
  • garaging zip code is where the car is parked almost every night

If this is the first time you have ever renewed your auto insurance policy, you may not exactly understand why you are receiving new policy documents and rates in the mail.

It is important to become familiar with how insurance works and your obligations as a named insured when you are buying auto insurance.

If you are at a loss or you are preparing for renewals in the future, read this guide to renewing your car insurance online and learn about the steps that you need to take to obtain coverage for a new term.

Use the car insurance comparison tool to start your search for quotes instantly! Enter your zip code above to get started for FREE!

What is a car insurance renewal?

When a car insurance policy is issued, the rates that the company charges you will remain level for the entire term stated on the declarations page.

The most popular policy terms are 6 months in length, but some insurers offer their customers a much better 12-month term.

Regardless of the standard length of the term, the policy will be scheduled for renewal when the standard term is about to end.

That date will be based on the date that the initial policy took effect.

For example, if your policy started on January 15th and you have a 6-month term, your renewal date would be July 15th for the next term. If you stayed with the insurer, the next renewal would be January 15th of the next year.

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Why do rates go up at renewal?

Each time the policy comes up for renewal, your policy is underwritten and reassessed.

An insurer cannot increase your rates in the middle of your policy period after the policy is issued even if they are notified that you are a higher risk.

To reassess the policy, the company will reassess risk.

There are a number of factors that they will look at that mirror the factors the underwriter considered when you first applied for coverage.

The company may run your motor vehicle report, review your claims records for at-fault accidents, establish new rates for your vehicle, or even set a rate increase that takes effect whenever their policyholders renew.

Risk does not always change but many companies do file new rates with the state Department of Insurance every year.

This is why many policyholders are charged new rates upon their renewal even if they are not considered to be a larger risk than they were when they first started their policy.

How are car insurance policies renewed online?

Remember, an insurance company does not have to renew your policy if you are a higher risk.

If you are still insurable based on the company’s guidelines and you are happy with the rates you are offered, you need to tell the insurer that you have every intention of staying with the company.

You can either do this in person, on the phone or the most convenient way in today’s modern age, on the internet.

Here are the steps that you will need to take to renew your current car insurance policy online:

Reviewing Your Renewal For Outdated Information

Many people really do not know just how outdated their insurance renewal documentation can be even if they have only been with their insurer for a few terms.

It is very important that you take the time to review your renewal for errors or pieces of information that could be costing you money.

The wrong zip code or occupation could be cost you hundreds over a period of a year if it is not corrected.

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Here are some of the areas of the renewal that you should focus on to spot common errors:

– Garaging Zip Code

Have you moved since you bought insurance? Did you know that the address on your mail is not the same as the address your policy is rated at?

A garaging zip code is the place where the car is parked almost every night.

This can affect your rates because some areas have higher crime rates and claims trends than others.

If you changed your address but your physical address was never updated, review the zip codes and have this corrected.

– Occupation

If you have changed jobs, your occupation change could affect your rates. Some companies offer occupational discounts and others will offer lower rates based on how you use your car.

Check to see if your change will change your premiums.

If you drive more or less throughout the year because of your life event, this needs to be updated.

Updates are also necessary if you started commuting or you no longer commute for any reason.

– Drivers

The people listed on your policy will undoubtedly affect your rates.

If a high-risk driver has moved in or out of your home, it is time to speak with your agent to make the necessary changes.

When your child goes off to college and they are far away, do not forget to ask about student away at school rates.

– Adding Extra Cars

If you have a new car but have decided to keep the others, be sure to reduce the usage of the other vehicles so that you are not paying primary rates on more than one car.

You can do this by changing the vehicle to pleasure class and by reducing annual mileage.

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Getting Multi-line Discounts

Multi-line discounts are available when you buy property, life, health or another type of insurance from the same carrier.

During your current policy period, if you purchased another policy, make sure the renewal includes your multi-line discount. Sometimes this will fall off automatically without being verified.

Assess Your Needs

Have your needs for coverage changed? Now is the time to price the cost to raise your liability limits or to add that uninsured motorist coverage that you rejected last year.

You should always reassess your needs for coverage every year so that you have adequate protection as your assets grow and you become more vulnerable to litigation.

It might even be time to drop full coverage if your car is owned and does not have much value.

Comparison Shop Before You Stick With Your Insurer

You may like your insurer, but do you like saving money more? Even loyal customers want to get the most value for their money.

If the value is important to you, there is nothing wrong with setting aside a little time to comparison shop.

After all, insurance companies charge their own unique rates and some rating systems are much fairer to some classes than they are to others.

Get your renewal documents, and start filling out quotations forms so that you can see how much other carriers licensed in your state will charge you for the same exact type of policy.

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Make a Payment or Set Up Automatic Renewal

If you do not need to make changes all you need to do is submit your first payment. Without a payment, your renewal will not take effect.

If you want to avoid any lapse in coverage, you can set up an automatic renewal online and the payment will come directly from your account.

All consumers should compare pricing when their renewal comes.

If you would like to compare rates online, you can use an online rate comparison tool.

Check your renewal rates, be resourceful with your time, and then submit a payment to renew or switch.

Enter your zip code into the FREE comparison tool below!