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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 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. 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.


Car insurance lapse defined

A lapse in auto insurance coverage means you have been uninsured for a certain period of time. This can typically range from one day to 60 days or more.

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.

AVERAGE ANNUAL INSURANCE PREMIUM — BY INSURANCE HISTORY
Insurance History Groups Avg. Annual Premium
None $1,934
6 Months $1,853
1 Year $1,842
3 Years $1,808
5 Years $1,789
Updated: 09/29/22.

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.

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.

Dynamic auto insurance data methodology

Methodology: The auto insurance rates displayed above and throughout this page are dynamic, meaning the data will refresh when the most recent information is made available. Rates are based on a sample driver profile — a 30-year-old single male driver with a Honda Accord and full coverage. This profile was adjusted based on common pricing factors used by major car insurance companies, like age, coverage level, driving record and others.

AVERAGE ANNUAL INSURANCE PREMIUM — BY COVERAGE LEVEL
Insurance History Avg. Annual Premium
5 Years with State Minimum BI Limit $1,836
5 Years with 50-100 BI Limit $1,742
5 Years with 100-300 BI Limit $1,711
Updated: 09/29/22.

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.

AVERAGE ANNUAL PREMIUM — NO INSURANCE HISTORY
Company Avg. Annual Premium
USAA $1,482
State Farm $1,569
GEICO $1,676
Nationwide $1,754
Progressive $2,046
Farmers $2,279
Allstate $2,678
Updated: 09/29/22.

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.

FAQ
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.

FAQ
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.

FAQ
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.

FAQ
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.

Make an informed decision: compare insurance rates today.

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RECENT QUESTIONS

What do I do if my insurance company drops me for non-payment?

Your company may allow you to make up the payment, but there will likely be some type of fee involved with reinstating your policy because of the lapse in coverage. Unfortunately in most states, insurance companies aren't legally obligated to offer a grace period so that would be up to your specific carrier.
Nov 17, 2016 Minneapolis, MN

Will I be able to get car insurance with the same company I canceled with?

Most companies will allow you to get insurance again even if you have canceled a policy with them in the past. Keep in mind that having continuous insurance coverage gives you a better rate so the price will likely be higher when you restart your insurance policy, and certain companies won't insure you if you have a lapse in coverage.
Jul 8, 2019 Bethlehem, PA

Do I need to maintain an SR-22 even if I'm outside the United States for a few months?

Hello, If you continue to pay your insurance premium, your insurance and SR-22 will not be in jeopardy because you are abroad. However, if you don't pay your bill and let your policy expire, your coverage will be cancelled along with with your SR-22.
Jul 19, 2019 Columbus, OH

Am I covered for an accident if my policy had lapsed while without an Uber passenger?

Unfortunately, if there was no coverage in place, no company will honor the claim. Uber coverage is in place while the app is active, though this only covers liability.
Jul 2, 2020 Lincoln Park, MI

Ross Martin photo
Ross MartinManager, Content Quality

Ross joined The Zebra as a writer and researcher in 2019. As a licensed insurance agent, he specializes in writing insurance content to help shoppers make informed decisions.

Ross holds a master's degree from Royal Holloway, University of London and has a background in copywriting and education. As a former teacher, he applies his educational skills to explain insurance concepts in ways that consumers can understand.

Ross's work has been cited by The New York Times, AxiosInvestopedia, The Simple DollarThe BalanceCar and Driver and Fox Business. He has been quoted by CNET, I Drive Safely and Kin Insurance

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 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.