Maybe you forgot to renew your car insurance. Perhaps you canceled your coverage while traveling on an extended trip overseas. It could have been that your insurance company canceled your policy and you failed to get new coverage. Whatever the reason, there is no doubt a lapse in car insurance coverage will affect you in some way.
While it may not seem fair, insurers don’t take lapsed insurance lightly – especially since state law requires a minimum of coverage on your registered vehicles at all times. So what should you expect when shopping for an online car insurance quote if your insurance has already been canceled?
First, Do Not Drive Your Vehicle Uninsured
First and foremost, do not attempt to drive your vehicle without insurance for any reason, regardless of how safe a driver you may be. The penalties for driving without financial responsibility are steep. Depending on whether you are cited for driving uninsured or cited for driving uninsured and causing an accident, fines can be up to $500, and you may have your licensed suspended for up to three years. If you provide proof of insurance that turns out to be fraudulent (perhaps because the coverage has lapsed), the penalties can be up to $5,000. Traffic violations that go on your driving record can further hurt your insurability with insurance companies for years to come.
How Insurance Companies View a Coverage Lapse
Insurance companies often view drivers who have coverage lapses as high-risk drivers – even if the lapse only happened for a day. Even if you are not legally cited for driving uninsured, chances are there will be a high cost to pay when it comes to finding a new policy. In fact, many insurance companies will not provide any coverage to drivers who have had recent or frequent lapses in their auto insurance coverage. Others may accept high-risk drivers, but at a cost. Once a driver has been labeled ‘high-risk,’ the cost of quality coverage often goes up to much more than it was before.
Preventing a Future Lapse in Coverage
There are many ways drivers can prevent future lapses in their insurance coverage. Talk with your agent about auto-renewing policies with automatic payment features. This guarantees you will never ‘forget’ to pay for your coverage. If you can pay in full for your policy, you will likely even qualify for a discount.
If you travel a lot and do not wish to pay for excessive coverage, talk to your insurance agent about lay-up coverage. It is possible that you may be able to reduce the coverage on your vehicle to the minimum necessary in order to remain compliant, prevent a lapse, and assure any non-collision damages that occur while you are away will be covered.
Getting Car Insurance after a Lapse
Mistakes happen. It helps to have someone to work with that can help you recover and minimize their effects. If you are in search of car insurance, talk to a local independent agent about your options for coverage.