If you’re wondering how a lapse in coverage might affect your car insurance policy, you’re not alone. Drivers often look for ways to make their payments more affordable and may consider canceling coverage, but going without auto insurance is never a good idea.
In this review, we'll discuss the consequences of a lapse in coverage and what you can do to avoid a lapse. We recently reviewed the best auto insurance companies in the nation. If you’re ready to compare free auto insurance quotes and find cheaper rates, enter your zip code or call our team at (844) 246-8209.
In this article:
- What Does It Mean To Have A Lapse In Coverage?
- What To Do If You Have A Lapse In Coverage
- Why Is It Important To Avoid A Lapse In Coverage?
- Do’s And Don’ts Of Auto Insurance
- Our Recommendations For Cheap Car Insurance
What Does It Mean To Have A Lapse In Coverage?
A lapse in coverage simply means that you were not covered by an active insurance policy for a period of time. Whether the lapse in coverage was intentional or an accident, insurance providers will commonly penalize you by increasing the price of your insurance once you reactivate or purchase a policy.
What To Do If You Have A Lapse In Coverage
If you experience a car insurance lapse, the most important thing to remember is that you should never drive uninsured. Driving without auto insurance can be a costly mistake. It's also against the law. If you don't have car insurance for a period of time, find another way to travel.
Drivers that find themselves without car insurance should get a cheap policy as soon as possible to avoid higher rates in the future. The longer you wait, the more expensive your rates will be once you get insurance again. If you're having trouble affording your premium, consider restructuring your policy using some of the tips outlined above.
Will Car Insurance Rates Increase After A Lapse In Coverage?
Most car insurance companies will raise your rates if there is a lapse in coverage on your record. This is because a coverage lapse will make you look like a riskier party to insure. The increase in your premium may be small for a lapse of less than 30 days, but every auto insurer is different. A lapse in coverage of more than 30 days could translate to hundreds of dollars more owed per year.
Why Is It Important To Avoid A Lapse In Coverage?
If you find yourself in financial strain, our first piece of advice is to not cancel your car insurance policy. A lapse in coverage and the repercussions of driving without the minimum auto liability insurance required by your state might be worse than you think.
Consequences can get more severe if you cause an accident while you’re experiencing a policy lapse and can include things like:
- Community service hours
- Fines (varies depending on your location)
- Loss of driver’s license, registration suspension, and revocation of license plates
- Reinstatement fee to get license, registration, and plates returned
- Jail time up to three months (varies depending on your location)
Plus, if you cause a car accident during a lapse in your car insurance coverage, you’ll be responsible to pay for the cost of medical bills and damages that you cause out of pocket.
Do’s And Don’ts Of Auto Insurance
Whether you’re having trouble making your car insurance payments or are worried about a future strain on your finances, here are some things to keep in mind about lapses in insurance coverage:
Do practice routine car care.
Car care is important to save money on repairs in the future. Here are some things you can do to care for your car:
- Change the oil yourself. You can buy oil at most convenience stores and service centers that are staying open.
- Check the tire pressure. You can find instructions on how to check your car’s tire pressure in the owner’s manual.
- Inspect your windshield wipers. Typically, wipers last six months before needing to be replaced.
- Wash your car. This is a good activity to get some fresh air and will benefit your car during pollen season, too.
Do choose a higher deductible to save money on your premiums.
Or at least, consider choosing a higher deductible. This can be a good idea if you’re a relatively safe driver and don’t expect to be involved in an accident or need repairs. A higher deductible usually comes with a lower monthly payment, so this can be a good way to save and avoid a lapse in coverage.
Do reach out to your local insurance agent to ask about discounts.
You might qualify for low annual mileage discounts that could lower your car insurance rates. This is also a good time to check on general discounts, like those for good students, safe drivers, and vehicle safety features.
Don’t cancel your car insurance policy and risk a lapse in coverage.
Even though cancelling your auto insurance policy could save you money short-term, it’ll be harder for you to find affordable car insurance rates long-term.
Don’t hide your financial concern from your car insurance company.
Many providers are willing to work with customers who are worried about a lapse in coverage. Sharing your struggles with the right people at your insurance provider or credit union might be one of the surest ways to help you avoid an insurance lapse. Many representatives are eager to offer advice and help out customers.
Our Recommendations For Cheap Car Insurance
While it’s important not to cancel your car insurance to avoid a lapse in coverage, it’s always a good idea to compare car insurance quotes from major providers available in your area to be sure you’re not missing out on better rates for the same coverage elsewhere.
#1 USAA Car Insurance: Best For Military
Our car insurance review revealed USAA as the best auto insurance for veterans, active military personnel, and their immediate family members. USAA customers get affordable rates and access to a number of discounts tailored for the needs of military motorists. One of these discounts, the military installation discount, gives customers who garage their car on a military base up to 15 percent off of their car insurance rates.
USAA also has other types of car insurance like:
- Roadside assistance
- Rental car reimbursement
- Accident forgiveness insurance
- Glass coverage
- Gap insurance
- Car replacement assistance
Read more about coverage in our full USAA auto insurance review.
#2 Geico Car Insurance: Best Overall
Our Geico auto insurance review named Geico the Best Overall insurance provider. Geico is a well-known household name in car insurance that provides customers with customizable policies and affordable rates.
Geico has many discounts available for safe drivers, government employees, good students, and more. Plus, Geico customers can customize basic car insurance policies with extras like mechanical breakdown insurance and rental car reimbursement.
In an effort to provide accurate and unbiased information to consumers, our expert review team collects data from dozens of auto insurance providers to formulate rankings of the best insurers. Companies receive a score in each of the following categories, as well as an overall weighted score out of 5.0 stars.
- Industry Standing: Insurers with strong financial ratings and customer-first business practices receive the highest scores in this category.
- Availability: We consider availability by state as well as exclusions for specific groups of drivers.
- Coverage: This rating is based on types of insurance available, maximum coverage limits, and add-on policies.
- Cost and Discounts: Our research team reviews sample quotes for a variety of drivers in every state. Companies with lower prices and many car insurance discount opportunities receive the best scores.
- Customer Service: We comb through customer reviews and consumer feedback studies from experts like J.D. Power.
- Technology: Auto insurers with mobile apps, advanced online services and telematics are more likely to meet consumer needs.
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