We’re all human, and we all make mistakes. Sometimes, one of those mistakes is missing an insurance payment! If you miss a payment, the first thing you should do is check with your insurer to see if they offer a grace period and if so, if you fall within it. Sadly, if that window has closed and your insurance has officially lapsed—been canceled by your insurer—you’ll have to get your insurance reinstated. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about the grace period, missed payments, and reinstatement.  

What Is a Car Insurance Grace Period?

Your carrier won’t cancel your policy immediately after you miss an invoiced payment due date, so there’s no need to panic if you’ve just missed it. Typically, insurers refrain from canceling your policy until the end of your grace period, specified on a separate Notice of Cancellation, which may last from 10 to 30 days after your payment’s due date. Grace periods vary depending on your insurer and your state, so contact your car insurance company after a late payment to see if you’re still within that window. If the grace period hasn’t passed, you can typically pay off your balance and pick up where you left off. Some insurance companies might charge a minor late fee, but you probably won’t have an insurance lapse on your record or see a rise in rates once you make the payment.  

What to Do if You Miss the Grace Period?

If you’ve failed to make your car insurance payment and you’re not within any applicable grace period, your insurance policy has lapsed and you’re no longer legally insured. Unfortunately, there is no additional grace period once your car insurance policy has officially lapsed/been canceled. Your insurer will send you a notice prior to the cancellation date to let you know what your final date of coverage will be. After that final date, it’s illegal for you to drive until you secure insurance from another provider, reinstate your policy, or otherwise meet your state’s financial responsibility requirements. 

What Are the Consequences of a Car Insurance Lapse? 

Contact your insurance company ASAP after a lapse in insurance to avoid the following: 

  • Additional fees from the DMV: Depending on where you live, some local governments charge uninsured drivers a daily fee for having lapsed insurance.  
  • Repossession of your car: If your lender or leasing company requires car insurance on their vehicles, a lapse in insurance could cause them to repossess your car. 
  • License suspension: In some states, your insurance company is required to notify your DMV if your policy lapses. Since most states require car insurance on registered vehicles, a lapse in insurance can cause your DMV to suspend your license. 
  • Increased car insurance rates: Once a lapse in coverage is on your record, you’ll probably see an increase in rates the next time you shop for car insurance. Some insurers will consider you high-risk and refuse to insure you. In this case, you’ll need to find a carrier that specializes in policies for high-risk drivers 

How to Reinstate Your Car Insurance

Reinstating your policy means maintaining the same insurance plan, policy number, and level of coverage you had before the lapse. Contact your insurer to learn if you’re eligible for a policy reinstatement. You’ll need to pay the missed payment along with any additional fees or increased rates to get your policy back. However, if you were happy with your level of coverage, reinstating your policy is usually more convenient than looking for a new insurance company. Learn more about reinstating your insurance policy via our blog.  

If you’ve had a lapse in coverage and are struggling to find affordable insurance, you’re welcome here at The General. We have a range of policies for every driver, including high-risk drivers and drivers with previous lapses in coverage. In fact, if you’ve been insured in the last five years, you’re eligible for a discount on your new insurance policy. To learn more, get a car insurance quote in under two minutes or discover more articles like this one on our blog.