When money is tight, everyone looks for ways to cut back. One temptation is to let your car insurance expire, even for a short period of time. This really isn’t a great idea, because a car insurance lapse can cause you some unexpected problems. Here are several reasons it’s important to stay protected and avoid a lapse in coverage:
Most states require some level of auto liability insurance. This is the coverage that pays for the other person’s medical needs or property damage from an accident if you’re at fault. So if you own a car and you’ve allowed the liability insurance on it to lapse, you might be violating the law – even if the car is parked and not driven. If you drive the vehicle and cause an accident without being covered, you’ll be cited and subjected to stiff fines or worse.
Driving without car insurance is risky. If you’re responsible for an accident and don’t have insurance, you may be sued to pay for the damages – and end up paying for everything, including the lawyer, out of pocket.
Insurance rate increases
After a car insurance lapse, you may find it harder to get insurance at an affordable rate. You may even have to resort to a company that specializes in risky drivers – which is almost never a good deal since high-risk insurers charge more for their policies.
Driving record impact
In some states, auto insurance companies are required to notify the Bureau of Motor Vehicles when you drop insurance or change companies. So once you have a lapse in car insurance, it may be noted on your driving record. In some cases, your car could even be seized or your license suspended.
How to avoid a lapse in coverage
By now, the benefits of keeping your car insurance active should be clear. Your ultimate goal should be to keep your car insurance coverage affordable and compliant with state laws. Your best resource for keeping you insured and protected is your local agent. They are also the person to turn to if you do end up with a lapse in coverage.
Car insurance policies are canceled for two main reasons: non-payment and driving offenses. As a vehicle owner, you are responsible for consistently paying your car insurance premium. You are also responsible for driving safely; too many tickets or accidents on your record can cause an insurer to cancel your policy, resulting in a lapse in coverage.
Discuss affordable coverage options
Talk to your insurance provider about any discounts you may be eligible for that can help keep your premiums affordable. Nationwide members can also schedule an annual On Your Side review, which assesses your current coverage and is an opportunity to adjust or update your policy based on your needs. In the event a lapse has already occurred, some providers may also be able to reinstate your lapsed insurance if the policy has only been inactive for a few days.