How Does a Car Insurance Lapse Impact Rates?

If your car insurance lapses, talk to your insurance company as soon as possible to avoid a substantial increase in premiums. Read on to learn what to do when your car insurance lapses.
Written by Amber Reed
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Drivers that allow their car insurance to lapse for 30 days see an average premium increase of 8%. And those that had insurance lapses that lasted longer than a month saw an average increase of 35%.
Letting your insurance lapse indicates in an insurance company that you might exhibit other risky behavior, like driving recklessly.
That’s why
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has compiled everything you need to know about how insurance lapses can impact rates.
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What is a car insurance lapse?

A car insurance lapse is when a car is registered in your name but isn’t insured for a period of time.
Even if you have a lapse in coverage for a single day, it could result in a premium increase.
Driving without car insurance coverage may result in fines and violations on your driving record.
By driving uninsured, you’re telling insurers you’re a risky investment, and that can lead to increased rates when you reinstate your policy or buy a new one.

What happens when your insurance lapses?

If you resolve your car insurance lapsed within 30 days, you could face an 8% rate increase. If your policy lapses longer than 30 days, your premium could skyrocket 35% to 69%.
This translates to hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars a year.
Along with premium increases, you might also face additional penalties from your home state. Fortunately, car insurance lapses are usually overlooked within three to five years if you maintain consistent payment.

Car insurance lapse penalties by state

If you have a registered vehicle, you need car insurance in almost every state in the U.S. While some states regulate that better than others, some go as far as having companies report to state DMVs when the insurance on a registered car has lapsed.
When the DMV is notified of your lapse, you leave yourself open to license and/or registration suspension, suspension, civil fines, and
SR-22 filings
, among other penalties.
Here are the penalties for car insurance lapses by state:
$200 license reinstatement penalty for the first lapse, $400 the second lapse
$100 license reinstatement penalty
$50 license reinstatement penalty
$100 license reinstatement penalty
$14 registration reinstatement penalty
$40 license reinstatement penalty
$200 license reinstatement penalty
$100 lapse penalty per vehicle + $5 per day after 30 days
District of Columbia
$150 lapse penalty + $7 per day after 30 days
$150 registration and license reinstatement penalty for first lapse, $250 for second, $500 for third
$25 penalty for lapse longer than 10 days + $60 days after 30 days
$20 license reinstatement penalty
$85 license reinstatement penalty
$100 reinstatement penalty
$150 reinstatement penalty first lapse, $225 second lapse, $300 for third lapse
$100 reinstatement penalty first lapse, $300 for second lapse within one year
$40 registration reinstatement penalty

Common reasons for policy lapses

There are many reasons you may lapse on your insurance:
  • You forget to renew your policy
  • You don’t have the money to pay for your insurance
  • You’re not using your car
  • You switch insurance companies, and your new policy doesn’t start on the same date that your previous policy ended.
  • Your car was in an accident or needs repairs.
  • You are deployed overseas or studying/moving abroad and
    cancel your car insurance
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Use Jerry to find affordable coverage

Rather than letting your coverage lapse, find the coverage you need at a price you can afford.
It’s this simple: download
, and in less than 45 seconds, Jerry collects all of your information from your existing insurer.
Choose from competitive quotes from up to 45 top insurance companies, and Jerry takes care of the rest—securing your new policy and canceling your old one. No long forms. No calling around. No hard work. Just savings. The average Jerry user saves $879 a year on car insurance.
"Once you purchase through Jerry, they continue to shop for you months before your policy is up for renewal!! I will never shop for car insurance again. I will use Jerry’s app to get quotes in the future!" — Satisfied Jerry Customer

What to do if your car insurance lapse

If you have a coverage lapse, there are several things you can do to get back on track. But it is important to act fast. The longer the lapse, the harsher the potential penalties.

Reinstate your policy

The first thing you should do is call your insurance company to request reinstatement.
This is when your policy is reactivated after a lapse for non-payment. Depending on what state you’re in and how long the lapse was, you may have to pay a fine and face other penalties from your insurance provider.

Buy a new policy

If you can’t reinstate your old policy, buy a new policy.
If you’re hesitant to switch insurance providers because you’re worried about the work involved, don’t be—
does all the paperwork for you.
You’ll never have to print anything, go to the post office, or even get on the phone. Jerry handles it all. Really!
If you’ve never lapsed before and haven’t had multiple claims near the time of your lapse, you will likely be reinstated without difficulty.
"Jerry is the best app ever. I entered basic information about myself (it took less than 2 minutes), and Jerry did the rest. They were able to find insurance with the exact coverage I had before Jerry at a much cheaper rate. My monthly payment went from $110/ month to $58/month. I did nothing. The app is completely free." — Satisfied Jerry User.

How to avoid a car insurance lapse

The best way to avoid the headache (and expenses) of car insurance lapses is to prevent them altogether!
Here are a couple of ways to stay on top of it:
Save important dates: Set phone reminders to keep track of when your policy is up for renewal or when payments are due.
Make sure your policies overlap: If you’re switching car insurance policies, make sure the new policy’s start date overlaps with the end date of your old one.
Buy a policy you can afford: If you can’t afford your current premium, work with your car insurance company to reduce your rates. Perhaps they have worthwhile insurance discounts or you could also shop around to find
cheaper car insurance
Maintain suitable coverage: If you’re not using your car, you can always reduce your coverage to just comprehensive coverage.
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Frequently asked questions

Are there car insurance lapse grace periods?

Many insurance companies give you a 20 to 30 day grace period to pay your premium before they cancel your policy. They also have to provide you with a warning before they entirely cancel your policy— it’s the law.

How long can car insurance lapse before you're penalized?

It depends on the carrier. Technically, one day without car insurance counts as a lapse in coverage and leaves you prone to hiked premiums. Some carriers won't be this picky, and some will even let you lapse for two weeks before you see a rise in premiums. Check with your personal insurance agent to learn about your carrier's policy.

How can I find cheap car insurance quotes?

If you want to save money on
car insurance
, the Jerry app is a good place to start.
As a licensed broker,
does all the hard work of finding the cheapest quotes from the top name-brand insurance, so choosing a new policy is easy. Jerry will even cancel your old policy for you.
And to ensure you always have the lowest rate, Jerry will send you new quotes every time your policy comes up for renewal, so you’re always getting the coverage you want at the best price.
This level of service is why Jerry's
trustworthy super app
earned a 4.6/5 rating on the App Store and made it the country’s top insurance app.
"When I first saw this app, it seemed too good to be true. To my shock, they found another reputable company that would save me $116-ish and was the same coverage I had on my previous policy. Not only that, but the app would do all the work of switching me over and helping me cancel my other policy! — Satisfied Jerry Customer
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