If you miss a car insurance payment, your coverage will typically lapse after a 10–15-day grace period—depending on where you live and the type of payment missed—leaving you and your car unprotected. If you’re caught driving while your car insurance is lapsed, you could face legal penalties such as fines, having your car impounded, or even jail time.
Even if your car insurance lapses, there’s good news—you should be able to restart your coverage. Contact your insurance provider right away to find out how you can get back on the road.
If your car insurance lapses, the best course of action is to immediately contact your car insurance provider and resolve the issue by restarting it. In most cases, if you act quickly, the matter can be resolved instantly and with minimal penalties for you and your record.
After you miss a payment, you’ll typically have about a 10–15-day grace period before your policy is canceled. However, if you miss a payment to renew your policy, your policy could automatically expire at the end of the term.
Most states have laws that protect you from having your insurance policy canceled without advance notice from your insurance provider. This helps ensure you continue to meet the minimum insurance requirements with at least liability coverage.
In most cases, your insurance company will send you a cancellation notice when you miss a payment and let you know if you have time to make a payment to avoid a lapse. If you’re not signed up for paperless billing or bill alerts, this notice will probably come in the mail, meaning you’ll have less time to make your payment once you receive it.
If you miss a renewal payment, your insurance company might not send a cancellation notice at all. The details of your insurer’s missed payment notification policy are in your contract. Review those details—or get in touch with your insurance provider—to help avoid a car insurance lapse.
You typically have 10-15 days after a missed payment before your auto insurance is canceled, so if you make a payment one day late you may be able to avoid a lapse. If you miss a renewal payment, however, your policy could automatically expire at the end of the term.
Keep in mind, whether or not your insurance does lapse, missing a payment—even by a day—will likely incur late fees, and you’ll still need to pay for the time that you’re insured after the missed payment.
If you miss a payment, contact your insurance provider right away to work through your options. Dairyland representatives are available 24/7 to help get your payment questions answered.
If you have an outstanding balance on your car insurance policy for long enough, your insurance provider could send your information to debt collections. Debt collection reports show up on your credit report, so it could have an impact on your credit.
Depending on where you live, the consequences can range from fees (due to making a late payment) all the way to jail time (if you’re caught driving without insurance).
Additionally, if your insurance does lapse, you’ll likely be considered a high-risk driver and have a more expensive premium once your insurance is restarted. As a high-risk driver, many states will also require you to get an SR-22 to prove that you’re insured.
There’s typically a 10- to 15-day grace period after you miss a payment before your policy lapses, unless you miss a renewal payment. The exact amount of time varies by state and can also vary month-to-month, so if you notice that you missed a payment, contact your insurance provider right away to see if there’s still time to avoid a coverage lapse.
If you still have questions, give us a call and one of our knowledgeable representatives can help.
How long an insurance lapse affects your record varies by state, but it typically comes off within a few years.
However, your insurance provider might have its own designated time period following a lapse during which your premium may be impacted.
The police have a few ways of checking on your car insurance status. In most states, insurance databases are available to law enforcement, so they can look it up on their in-vehicle computers without even pulling you over.
It’s unlikely you’d be pulled over just for lack of car insurance coverage, though. If you’re stopped for another violation like speeding, texting and driving, tailgating, or expired license plates, the officer will most likely ask to see proof of insurance.
If your coverage is lapsed, you could be charged with driving uninsured.
After an insurance lapse, your car isn’t insured. As such, if you cause a crash, you’ll likely be held liable for any bodily injuries and property damage.
In most states, you’re legally required to carry at least liability car insurance. If you have an accident without the minimum required coverage in states such as California, you could face fines, have your license suspended, and have your vehicle impounded. In some states, like Montana, your first offense of driving without insurance can even result in a misdemeanor.
If you’re found to not be at fault in an accident, the laws vary by state and the accident, but not having insurance coverage may reduce your chances of receiving compensation in states such as Louisiana.
In most cases, yes, you should be able to restart your coverage. Contact your insurance provider as soon as you notice a coverage lapse and they’ll work with you to get your policy reinstated or set you up with a new one.
When you call your insurance company to restart your policy, you’ll want to be prepared with a few things on hand.
Keep in mind, when restarting your policy, you’ll likely have to pay:
After a lapse in coverage, your provider may allow you to reinstate or reapply for a car insurance policy. As a high-risk driver, it’s important to review your policy and understand your coverage. You may need an SR-22—a certificate of insurance that proves you carry car insurance—which Dairyland files for free as part of your policy.
There are several steps you can take to help avoid an insurance lapse.
If you haven’t opted in to bill alerts or paperless billing, your insurance provider will send a notice via the postal service. By the time you receive your paper notification, the grace period could end and your insurance can lapse. With bill alerts, you should receive an email or other more instantaneous form of missed payment notification to help you stay on track.
Your insurance provider should notify you that your renewal date is coming up, but it’s a good idea to set up your own alert, too. Adding an insurance renewal reminder in your phone or on your calendar not only helps prevent lapses, annual reviews of your car insurance can also help you save money.
Are you in between vehicles at the moment? Consider a non-owner car insurance policy, especially if you'll be driving someone else's car at times. It helps keep you protected by providing liability coverage in an accident you cause when borrowing a car, and it keeps your car insurance from lapsing.
Life happens, and so do car insurance lapses. And while the consequences can be severe, there are ways to avoid lapses. We’re here to help, with tools like the Dairyland mobile app which allows you to set up bill alert reminders, access and update your account information, and make payments from anywhere at any time.
Find out the minimum car insurance requirements you need to stay covered. If you’re still not sure, contact us and we can help.
If your car insurance lapses, you could be considered a high-risk driver and require nonstandard auto insurance. But don’t worry, you’ve still got reliable, affordable coverage options.
The general information in this blog is for informational or entertainment purposes only. View our blog disclaimer.