Car Insurance with a Lapse in Coverage

Use The Zebra to get car insurance after a lapse in coverage from GEICO, Progressive, Nationwide, Liberty Mutual and Allstate (+100 other companies)

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Ross Martin

Insurance Writer

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  • 4+ years in the Insurance Industry

Ross joined The Zebra as a writer and researcher in 2019. He specializes in writing insurance content to help shoppers make informed decisions.

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Bill Mense

Partner, United Heartland Insurance

William Mense has amassed 45 years of insurance experience in a family-owned agency begun in 1914 by his grandfather. That agency is now in its 3rd g…

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Beth Swanson

SEO Content Strategist

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Beth joined The Zebra in 2022 as an Associate Content Strategist. She is a licensed insurance agent whose goal is to make insurance content easy to r…

Can I get insurance after a lapse in coverage?

You will likely be able to find car insurance after a lapse, but it will probably be more expensive than it would've been if coverage had been consistent. To keep car insurance affordable, it's important to have continuous coverage. The average price difference between an insurance policy for a driver with five consecutive years of coverage history and a driver with no recent auto insurance record is about $145 per year.

The reason rates rise after insurance policy expiration is that car insurance companies see additional risk in covering clients who have allowed their insurance to lapse. To an insurer, you've shown either an inability to maintain your coverage, or you've chosen to drive while uninsured (In 2024, this is about 33% of drivers). Still, some options exist for finding reasonable car insurance after a lapse in coverage. 


What does a lapse in insurance coverage mean?

A lapse in auto insurance coverage means you have been uninsured for a certain time period. This can range from as little as one day to as many as 60 days or more. The exact number of days depends on the insurance company, their specifications, and your state regulations. In Georgia, for example, a lapse happens after ten days between policies.[1]

An auto insurance policy could lapse for one of the following reasons:

  • Missed premium payment(s)
  • Policy non-renewal
  • Policy cancellation (by the insurance company)

Is there a grace period after a car insurance coverage lapse?

This varies by the insurance company and is a good question to ask when you're shopping for a policy. Depending on the duration of the lapse — and the reason for the interruption — the insurance company might reinstate the policy. For example, if your policy has expired by a single day, your insurance might decide to reinstate it. If a policy is canceled because of a missed payment that is rectified soon thereafter, the company will likely forgive the error and reinstate the policy (for a fee).


Penalties for a lapse in car insurance

What each state and insurance carrier considers a lapse may differ slightly. But if you let your policy lapse, you should be prepared for some negative ramifications, including higher auto insurance premiums, driver's license suspension, tickets, or a lack of coverage in the event of an accident. Again, each state is different; If you drive without coverage for more than 31 days in Pennsylvania you risk your vehicle's registration being suspended for up to three months.[2]

penalty

Why do car insurance rates go up after a lapse?

There are a few reasons why getting car insurance after a lapse in coverage might be expensive and difficult. The primary reason is the additional risk of insuring a previously uninsured driver. Unless you’re a newly licensed driver, having a driving history without an insurance history is considered a sign of potential risk — similar to having a bad driving record. Below are average auto insurance rates based on the duration of car insurance history and common coverage levels.

Average car insurance rates based on length of coverage

Updating data...

Insurance History Groups Avg. 6 Mo. Premium Avg. Annual Premium
None $967 $1,934
6 Months $926 $1,853
1 Year $921 $1,842
3 Years $904 $1,808
5 Years $894 $1,789

Source: The Zebra

The Zebra’s Dynamic Insurance Rating Tool data methodology

The Zebra’s Dynamic Insurance Rating Tool for home and auto insurance rates utilizes the latest ZIP code-level rate filings from across the U.S., sourced from Quadrant Information Services and S&P Global. These filings, typically updated annually or biennially by insurers, are verified through Quadrant’s QA process and then integrated into The Zebra’s estimator.

The displayed rates are based on a dynamic home and auto profile designed to reflect the content of the page. This profile is tailored to match specific factors such as age, location, and coverage level, which are adjusted based on the page content to show how these variables can impact premiums.

For a comprehensive understanding, see our detailed methodology.

The longer you carry car insurance continuously, and the higher coverage level you maintain, the more affordable your rates will be. A history of carrying only the bare minimum car insurance coverage indicates risk, leading to more expensive rates. Historical data shows drivers with lower coverage levels (versus full coverage) tend to file more claims than drivers with higher liability limits.

By maintaining higher levels of coverage for five years, you can save a few hundred dollars per year on your next insurance policy.

Another thing to keep in mind is eligibility. Certain companies will not sell a policy to drivers who haven't maintained continuous coverage for a certain duration. This relates to the risk associated with limited-history insurance clients. For instance, Farmers will not write a policy for a driver without continuous coverage for at least six months. This does not include newly licensed drivers.

Average annual and six-month premium by coverage level

Updating data...

Insurance History Avg. 6 Mo. Premium Avg. Annual Premium
5 Years with State Minimum BI Limit $918 $1,836
5 Years with 50-100 BI Limit $871 $1,742
5 Years with 100-300 BI Limit $856 $1,711

Source: The Zebra


How to avoid a lapse in car insurance coverage

A lapse in coverage is something you want to avoid, but sometimes there are situations where you are between cars and may not have a current policy. For example, if you've sold a vehicle and haven't decided on your next car yet. One of The Zebra's insurance advisors, Stephen Alcaraz, has some advice to keep your coverage active if you're between vehicles. 

Stephen Alcaraz, Insurance Advisor
Agent Insight: Take advantage of non-owners insurance

"You can get a non-owners policy if you don't currently have a vehicle, then you'd get a new auto policy once you have a vehicle again. However, a non-owner insurance policy will only work if you do not have any vehicle registered in your name ( or you don't have regular access to one in the home)."

Stephen Alcaraz, Insurance Advisor at The Zebra


Can a lapsed insurance policy be reinstated?

If your insurance policy has been canceled due to non-payment, you may be able to reinstate it and avoid a lapse in coverage, depending on your insurer’s policies. Typically, this involves making any missed payments plus a reinstatement fee. Reinstating your policy can keep your insurance continuous and help you avoid penalties.

However, if your coverage has lapsed for more than a few days, it can be a bit complicated. Some insurers may allow you to reinstate your policy after an extended lapse, while others may require you to start a new policy instead. In some cases, if reinstatement isn't an option, you may need to find a new insurance provider.

To better understand your options, we recommend that you contact your insurance company, whether via a phone call or by checking your account details online. If you are in the market for a new insurance company and want to chat with one of our knowledgeable agents about your situation, get started with your ZIP code below.

Let The Zebra help you find car insurance after a lapse!

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Cheapest car insurance companies after a lapse in coverage

Now that we’ve outlined why it's difficult to find car insurance after a lapse in coverage, let’s look at rates from popular providers. Using the methodology outlined here, we determined USAA and State Farm to be the cheapest companies for a driver with a lapse in coverage or limited insurance history.

Average annual and six-month premiums with no insurance history

Updating data...

Company Avg. 6 Mo. Premium Avg. Annual Premium
USAA $741 $1,482
State Farm $785 $1,569
GEICO $838 $1,676
Nationwide $877 $1,754
Progressive $1,023 $2,046
Farmers $1,139 $2,279
Allstate $1,339 $2,678

Source: The Zebra


How to handle a car accident after a coverage lapse

If you’ve been in a car accident and later realize your car insurance has lapsed, there’s no easy fix. Let’s review a few example scenarios and feel free to ask us if you have further questions.

lapse in coverage
I had an accident during a brief lapse in coverage, but it was reinstated.

If your coverage lapsed on Tuesday, and you had an accident on Thursday, your insurance company may allow you to reinstate your policy, but it’s very unlikely they will provide coverage for your accident. If you lie and say the accident happened after you were insured again, you’re committing insurance fraud. Having a reinstated policy and immediately filing a claim will be suspicious to your insurance company’s claims department and they will most likely investigate it.

lapse in coverage
The other driver was at fault and had insurance, but mine had lapsed.

Your lack of insurance should not affect your ability to receive compensation after a not-at-fault accident. If it is clearly the other driver’s fault, you should contact their insurance company and begin the claims process.

lapse in coverage
My insurance policy lapsed and the fault in a collision was unclear.

The only people who can determine fault are claims adjusters. So, if responsibility for the incident is not cut and dry, not having a claims adjuster on your side can be difficult. Insurance companies are going to try to avoid claims. Without an insurance company to back you, you could be stuck footing the bill.

If this happens to you, your best bet is to seek legal advice.

lapse in coverage
My insurance coverage lapsed and I was the at-fault driver in a collision.

This is the worst-case scenario. If you’re uninsured and cause property or bodily injury damage to someone else, you’re responsible for those damages. If you’re unable to pay, you can have your assets seized and face legal action. Depending on the nature of the accident, you can also be ticketed, have your license suspended, or have your vehicle towed.

Bottom line: if you’re currently uninsured, get insurance quotes now. If it’s been a few days since your insurance lapsed, your best bet is to call your current provider and see if you can get your coverage reinstated. If you’re requiring an entirely new insurance quote, enter your ZIP code below to see rates from over a hundred local and national providers across the U.S.

Make an informed decision: compare insurance rates today.

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FAQs

If your lapse is less than 30 days, then your rate will likely increase but not as much as if you lapse for more than 30 days. Of course, every carrier is different (some insurance carriers may not be willing to insure you with any lapse at all) so it's important to connect with your company or agent to confirm.

A lapse in coverage might only be one day without coverage, or up to several months. Company specifications will differ. This is why it is important to understand your coverage and communicate with your insurance company if you are unsure what constitutes a lapse per their definition. State regulations may also come into play, so it will depend on where you live.

A cancelation by the insurance company usually requires notice to be provided ahead of time to you, the insured, so you can prepare to find new coverage. A lapse is when your coverage has been canceled or expired without you finding alternative coverage. A lapse may happen because you're late with your payment, or because you've canceled a policy and haven't gotten a new one yet. A lapse usually happens by accident, whereas a cancelation is a conscious decision.

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I got in an accident the same day I reinstated my lapsed policy. Will it be covered?

It depends on how the policy was reinstated. If they reinstated with no lapse, then you are free to file a claim. If they reinstated with no lapse but had you sign what is called a No Loss letter — which dictates that no accidents had occurred before taking payment — then filing a claim would be co…
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If I sell my car and cancel my insurance, will my rates be higher later on?

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About The Zebra

The Zebra is not an insurance company. We publish data-backed, expert-reviewed resources to help consumers make more informed insurance decisions.

  • The Zebra’s insurance content is written and reviewed for accuracy by licensed insurance agents.
  • The Zebra’s insurance editorial content is not subject to review or alteration by insurance companies or partners.
  • The Zebra’s editorial team operates independently of the company’s partnerships and commercialization interests, publishing unbiased information for consumer benefit.
  • The auto insurance rates published on The Zebra’s pages are based on a comprehensive analysis of car insurance pricing data, evaluating more than 83 million insurance rates from across the United States.