When Does My Car Insurance Policy Expire?
Last Updated on November 16, 2020
It’s important to know when your car insurance expires.
If you don’t know when your car insurance policy expires, you could mistakenly let your car insurance lapse between policies, which could make you a high-risk driver.
Insurance policies typically last 6 months to 12 months. Most insurers automatically renew your policy before it’s set to expire. However, if you let your car insurance expire, or if you cancel your car insurance, then it will end at 12:01 AM on the date you end coverage.
Today, we’re explaining everything you need to know about when car insurance policies expire, including how it affects future premiums and your current policy.
Table of Contents:
- Car Insurance Policies Expire at 12:01 AM
- How to End a Car Insurance Policy
- Contact your Insurer to Verify Expiration Date
- How to Avoid a Lapse in Coverage
- Look for a Cancellation Notice from your Insurance Company
- Make Sure Your New Policy Starts on the Same Date Your Old Policy Ends
- You Can Cancel Car Insurance at Any Time
Car Insurance Policies Expire at 12:01 AM on the Listed Date
Most car insurance policies expire at 12:01 AM on the listed date. This date may be listed as the cancellation date or the date of expiry on your car insurance documentation.
Let’s say you buy a 6-month car insurance policy from GEICO on March 1. That car insurance policy should expire on September 1.
However, your car insurance policy doesn’t actually cover you on September 1: it covers you for only one minute past midnight on September 1.
In other words, you’re paying for a full day’s worth of insurance when, in reality, you only get one minute of insurance.
If you get into an accident at 12:30 AM on the date your car insurance expires, then your insurer will deny your claim. Technically, you did not have coverage at the time of the accident, and your insurer does not need to cover the costs of the accident.
How to End a Car Insurance Policy
Most car insurance companies automatically renew your policy every 6 or 12 months, depending on your plan. When it comes time to renew your policy, your insurer will review your driving history, check for any additional changes, then adjust rates based on this information.
If you choose to automatically renew your policy, then your car insurance will automatically be renewed on the listed date. Your old policy ends at 12:01 AM on the listed date, and your new policy begins at 12:01 AM on that same date. You have no lapse in coverage, and your car insurance coverage continues with the same company.
However, many drivers switch insurance companies due to price or coverage. You might switch to a new provider because they offer cheaper rates in your area.
Or, you might let your car insurance expire because you no longer plan to drive. You’re traveling overseas, for example, and no longer need to drive.
Sometimes, your insurer will end your car insurance policy. If you have two or more accidents since your last renewal, for example, then your insurer may put your policy into non-renewal, which means you need to find a new insurance provider after the listed date.
In all of these situations, your car insurance expiration date becomes important, and that’s why you need to consider the 12:01 AM rule.
Contact your Insurer to Verify Expiration Date
Each state has its own unique insurance laws. Each insurance company also has its own unique policies.
Because of these differences, it’s important to contact your insurer to verify the expiration date of your policy.
Some insurers have a grace period, for example, and will extend coverage up to 2 weeks beyond the end date of your policy. Other states require insurers to offer some type of grace period even after non-payment.
In other words, your insurance policy might not end at exactly 12:01 AM. If you’re concerned about your insurance expiration date, we recommend contacting your insurer to verify the end date and time.
How to Avoid a Lapse in Coverage
A lapse in insurance coverage is dangerous. If you go without car insurance for a day, a week, or even an hour, then it’s considered a lapse in coverage.
When your car insurance coverage lapses, your insurer sends a letter to your state’s DMV (or the equivalent agency) warning that you no longer have car insurance. If you don’t have another policy, then the DMV may cancel your car registration until you provide proof of insurance.
If you are unable to provide proof of insurance to the DMV, then your car insurance has lapsed. You may need to provide proof of insurance and pay a registration reinstatement fee. Some states require an SR-22 certificate. Others charge extra penalties.
Beyond DMV penalties, drivers could also cause an accident while insurance has lapsed, and this could lead to further consequences.
Let’s say your car insurance ends at 12:01 AM on October 15. You drive to work at 7:30 AM on October 15 and cause an accident. You cause $50,000 of damage to the truck in front of you, and the other driver and passengers require $100,000 of medical bills and treatment. Typically, car insurance would cover all of these costs. However, because car insurance has lapsed, you are not insured, which means car insurance does not have to cover it. In this situation, your insurer would deny your claim – and you would have to cover all damages out of pocket.
Look for a Cancellation Notice from your Insurance Company
Most states require insurers to send you a cancellation notice before canceling your policy. If they have not received payment from you, or if they are canceling your policy for any reason, then they need to notify you in advance – they cannot just cancel your policy.
If you have received a cancellation notice from your insurance company, then shop around for a new policy. Start your new policy on the date your old policy ends to avoid a lapse in coverage.
Make Sure Your New Policy Starts on the Same Date Your Old Policy Ends
Because car insurance ends at 12:01 AM on the listed date, you need to make sure your new policy starts on that same date (assuming you want to maintain continuous car insurance coverage).
When you buy a new car insurance policy, it starts at 12:01 AM on the listed date. When your new car insurance starts on the same date your old car insurance ends, you avoid a lapse in coverage. Your new policy starts the second your old policy ends.
Many drivers make a mistake when buying a new insurance policy. Their old policy ends on November 15, for example, so they buy a new car insurance policy for November 16. This sounds right – but it leaves you with a lapse in insurance coverage for one full day. The policies need to end and start on the same date to avoid a lapse.
Maintaining continuous coverage helps you avoid further penalties from the DMV. It also avoids potential liability issues – say, if you cause an accident while car insurance lapses.
You Can Cancel Car Insurance at Any Time
Want to switch to a new car insurance provider? Did you find a better rate with a competing provider? You’re allowed to switch car insurance providers at any time.
Call your car insurance company and tell them you wish to cancel your policy. Most insurers have different cancellation policies, although most allow you to cancel any time with no penalty. Most car insurance companies also offer a refund on any premiums you have paid upfront.
Contact your car insurance company to cancel your policy. Tell them the date you wish to cancel your policy. When you buy a new policy, make sure it starts on the same date. If you do that, you avoid a lapse in coverage.
Final Word on When Your Policy Ends
A standard 6 or 12-month car insurance policy ends at 12:01 AM on the date of expiry, the date of cancellation, or the date listed on your policy.
Some states and insurers have a grace period, while others do not. It’s possible your car insurance will extend past this date and time, although it’s also possible your car insurance will lapse immediately after 12:01 AM.
Contact your insurance policy to verify the end date and time of your policy. Buy a new policy and have it start on that date to avoid a lapse in coverage.