My Car Insurance Expired: Now What?
There are more than 10 million car accidents in the U.S. every year. That translates to more than 27,000 accidents every day and roughly 1,000 per hour. Based on those statistics, it’s not surprising every state requires vehicle owners to carry a minimum amount of auto insurance or prove they can be financial responsible should an accident occur. Unfortunately, sometimes drivers don’t realize their policy has expired until they are involved in an accident.
Here’s a quick run-down of how to avoid a lapse in insurance coverage, the dangers of driving with an expired policy, and what to do if your car insurance expired.
- Be pro-active with payments.
Most auto insurance policies renew annually. You’ll typically receive a notice in the mail or via email that your policy is ready to be renewed. Keep track of when your policy is set to renew, and promptly make your payments. Setting up an auto-draft payment option is one way to help make sure your bill is paid on time so you avoid an expired policy.
- Use caution when changing companies.
If you aren’t insured, getting a provider to pick you up can end up costing you more so, if you’re looking to chance car insurance providers, do so before your policy expires. Use a calendar to note the date your insurance expires and keep in mind it will do so at 12:01 a.m. on that date. A number of car insurance providers give policy holders a grace period, but it’s typically only a week to 10 days after the policy expiration date.
- Keep contact information up to date.
To avoid missing critical communications from your auto insurance company, such as your renewal letter, be sure they have your current address, telephone number, and email address. You can usually make these changes at any time on the insurance carrier’s website.
- Don’t drive an uninsured vehicle.
If you’re involved in a car accident with an expired policy, you could face hefty fines, points on your driving record, and even a lawsuit from the other party involved in the accident. In extreme circumstances, you could face jail time. As a result, your car insurance premium is likely to rise and you may experience difficulties finding coverage in the future.
- Insure cars you don’t drive.
Some people are under the impression that if they aren’t driving their car, they can let its insurance coverage expire, but this isn’t true. Even if you’re not driving your car for an extended period of time, you must keep the insurance current. In fact, the Insurance Information Institute states it’s illegal for any vehicle that’s registered to be uninsured, whether it’s being driven or not. If you don’t plan on driving the car again, turn in the vehicle’s license plates to the appropriate local agency so it will no longer be registered as an active vehicle.
- Contact police immediately if you’re involved in an accident.
If you cause an accident while your insurance is expired, you may be hesitant to call the police, but don’t be. A written report of the accident will document exactly what happened and this could help protect your rights if you are sued. If the accident was not your fault, the other driver will be responsible for any damages to your vehicle or personal injury, assuming they have enough coverage to pay for everything. But be forewarned, in some states if you don’t carry car insurance, or it’s expired, the other party does not have to pay for damages.
Being involved in a car accident is an unfortunate incident, which gets more complicated if your auto insurance has expired. Follow these guidelines and help protect yourself, as well as others, by carrying the appropriate auto insurance coverage. At Obrella, we are dedicated to making it easy for you to find the auto insurance that best fits your needs. Give us a call and let us do the leg work for you.