Car Insurance with a Lapse in Coverage

Learn how to find the best car insurance coverage after your insurance policy expires.

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How to get car insurance after your coverage lapses

If you're looking for affordable auto insurance, it's important to keep your coverage active. 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 $218 per year.

A lapse in auto insurance coverage can have a number of negative ramifications, including higher auto insurance premiums, driver's license suspension, tickets or a lack of coverage in the event of an accident. 

The reason rates rise after insurance policy expiration is that 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. Some options do exist for finding reasonable car insurance after a lapse in coverage. 

Let’s explore the ins and outs of finding a new policy after allowing your car insurance to lapse.


Table of contents — car insurance after your policy expires:
  1. What is a lapse in car insurance?
  2. Why is car insurance so expensive after a lapse?
  3. Reinstatement after a lapse in coverage
  4. Cheap insurance options after a lapse in insurance coverage
  5. What happens if you're in a car collision after a lapse in insurance coverage?



Car insurance lapse defined

A lapse in auto insurance coverage means you have been uninsured for a period of 30 to 60 days.

An auto insurance policy could lapse for one the below 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 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 — but for a fee).



Car insurance after a coverage lapse

There are a few reasons getting car insurance after a lapse in coverage might be expensive and difficult. The primary reason is the additional risk posed by 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.

Insurance historyAverage car insurance premium$ Difference vs. no insurance history
6 Months — State Minimum Bodily Injury Limit$845$32
6 Months — 50-100 Bodily Injury Limit$802$73
1 Year — State Minimum Bodily Injury Limit$832$43
1 Year — 50-100 Bodily Injury Limit$792$83
3 Years — State Minimum Bodily Injury Limit$812$63
3 Years — 50-100 Bodily Injury Limit$774$101
5 Years — State Minimum Bodily Injury Limit$798$77
5 Years — 50-100 Bodily Injury Limit$759$116


The longer you carry car insurance and the higher coverage level you maintain, the more affordable your rates will be. A history of minimal car insurance coverage is an indicator of risk, leading to more expensive rates. Historical data shows drivers who carry lower levels of coverage tend to file more claims than do drivers with higher liability limits.


Insurance historyAverage car insurance premium$ Difference vs. no insurance history
5 Years — State Minimum Bodily Injury Limit$798$77
5 Years — 50-100 Bodily Injury Limit$759$116
5 Years — 100-300 Bodily Injury Limit$743$132


By maintaining higher levels of coverage for five years, you can save $264 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.



Can you reinstate an insurance policy to avoid a lapse in coverage?

Whether you can avoid a lapse in coverage by reinstating coverage depends on the insurance company's regulations. If your insurer cancels your policy due to non-payment, you might be able to reinstate your policy if you make a payment and pay a reinstatement fee. Reinstating a canceled policy can help you avoid a lapse in coverage.

If the period of time of a lapse exceeds a few days, the ramifications may be more serious. Some insurance companies will allow policy reinstatement after a longer period after this time frame. Others might issue an entirely new policy. Other providers won’t reinstate the policy, forcing the driver to look elsewhere for insurance.

If you learn your policy has been canceled, call your insurance company or sign in to your account online to learn more about recommended next steps. 



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.


Insurance providerAverage 6-month premium
Liberty Mutual$1,118
State Farm$647



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.


My insurance lapsed for a few days but was soon reinstated — am I covered if an accident occurred during the lapse?

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.


My coverage lapsed and I got into a collision but the at-fault driver has insurance.

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.


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.


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 orbodily 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 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.

Compare your options and get the best value from your next insurance policy.

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Additional resources

When purchasing auto insurance after your policy expires or lapses, make a note to compare car insurance quotes again after your first six months. As your insurance history gets longer, your rates may improve.

For more information relating to car insurance, see our additional resources below.



About The Zebra

The Zebra is not an auto insurance company. We’re an independent, unbiased partner for consumers, on a mission to help you compare insurance options apples-to-apples, so you can make a truly informed decision.

We’re proud of what we offer because:

  • We’re the first platform to allow users to compare all the major auto insurance companies side-by-side. The information we provide is intended to inform and educate consumers before they decide where to spend their hard-earned cash.
  • We have no stake in which car insurance company you choose — we simply want to offer you unbiased, fast, side-by-side comparisons of your insurance options.

Learn more about the methodology we use to gather our rates.

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Ross Martin
Ross Martin LinkedIn

As a licensed insurance agent, Ross is responsible for researching and writing about all matters related to insurance. He has a background in writing and education, as well as a master's degree from Royal Holloway, University of London. He has been quoted by CNET, and Kin Insurance.