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How and When to Renew Car Insurance (Updated August 2022)

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JJ Starr

By: JJ Starr

Edited by Jackie Cohen

Last Updated June 15, 2022

Why you can trust Insurify

Insurify partners with top insurance companies and is a licensed agent in all 50 states. However, the insurance experts writing our content operate independently of our partners. Check out reviews from over 3,000 satisfied customers, how we make money, our data methodology, and our editorial standards.

Renewing your car insurance is a great time to review your current policy and decide if it’s time for new car insurance. Though renewing your policy will likely be done automatically, you should still review that the terms of your policy match your needs. That means making sure your coverage limits and types of coverage still provide you with enough insurance to keep you safe.

It’s also a great time to compare your rates. Insurance rates change all the time, so the lowest rate one month may not be the lowest rate today. You can shop and compare car insurance policies for free with Insurify. Fill out one form to compare offerings from top companies and pick the best plan for you.

Quick Facts

  • You should plan to renew your car insurance policy before it expires. If you don’t want to renew your policy with the same company, you need to ensure your new policy begins before the old policy ends.
  • Failing to renew your policy can leave you without proper insurance. Driving without insurance is never a good idea.
  • Policy renewal is a great time to do a little car insurance housekeeping. Take the time to review what your insurance covers and compare car insurance quotes.

When to Renew Car Insurance

Is car insurance renewed automatically?

Most car insurance companies will renew your policy automatically without any need for action on your part. However, you should always verify that your policy is renewed properly.

In short, you need to renew your car policy before it expires. You can look up when your policy expires by looking at your ID card, policy documents, or online account. Most car insurance companies will enroll you in automatic renewal when you first purchase your policy. Even so, you should always verify that your policy will be renewed before its expiration date.

You can verify your renewal by calling your insurance agent or viewing your policy online. If your insurance company is choosing not to renew your policy, they should provide notice in writing. If you’re signed up for electronic documents only, your notice of cancellation will likely be delivered by email only.

Policy Expiration Dates

You can find out your policy’s expiry date by reviewing your proof of insurance card. Your policy period will also be listed on your declarations page. If your insurance company offers an online portal, you can also find the expiration date there. If all else fails, just call your insurance agent.

The general insurance policy length for car insurance is six months. The second most popular term is 12 months. Keep in mind that you and your insurance company are allowed to make changes to or cancel your insurance plan at any time.

Will my car insurance premium go up at renewal time?

So long as you haven’t had to file any at-fault car insurance claims or received any traffic violations, you should not see any changes to your insurance premium. Or, if it does go up, it should only go up by a small amount.

If you see a dramatically higher premium, you should check in with the company right away to understand why. Occasionally, comprehensive car insurance premiums can go up through no fault of your own. That can be due to changing weather patterns that can put your car at higher risk of hail and other weather-related damage.

See More: Best Car Insurance Companies

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How to Renew Car Insurance

Renewing an auto insurance policy can often be done online, over the phone, or in person if your insurance company has a local office. Each insurer is different, so always review your insurance company’s policies at renewal time. Insurance renewal should be done by the car owner or at least verified by the owner.

When you renew your car insurance plan, it’s a good time to review it. Be sure to read over your policy documents and make a note of the policy term—6 to 12 months is most common. You should also review your policy add-ons and the types of car insurance you’ve purchased—e.g., comprehensive, collision, or gap insurance—and their deductibles.

You also want to ensure you’re getting the discounts you’re entitled to, such as a no-claim bonus (NCB). Make sure that the insured declared value (IDV) is greater than what you owe on your car—depreciation often happens more quickly than principal paydown. If it’s not, you’ll need to purchase gap insurance.

Ease of the Renewal Process

The renewal process for a car insurance policy is easy for drivers who have made payments on time, avoided claims, and maintained a clean driving record. Because renewal is most often done automatically, most drivers don’t need to do anything to have their policy renewed.

However, drivers who didn’t pay on time, have made multiple claims, or have received multiple tickets may find themselves in trouble. Insurance companies reserve the right to drop policyholders so long as they’re following state and federal rules. Some insurance companies will choose not to renew policies when a driver has certain issues.

Drivers who find themselves suddenly considered high-risk or who have been dropped from their policy may find it difficult to get insurance at a good rate. If you’re facing problems at the time of your renewal, you should compare your options from as many insurers in your area as possible.

How long does it take to renew my policy?

Policy renewal is often automatic, so it shouldn’t take you much time at all to renew your policy. And it typically takes less than five minutes to renew your policy manually.

We recommend taking an extra 10 to 20 minutes to review your policy documents to make sure that your policy is still set up to serve your needs. It’s also a great time to get quotes from local insurers to ensure you get the best rate.

See More: Car Insurance Quotes

If You Want to Cancel Your Policy

It is not mandatory for you to renew your car insurance policy with the same insurer year after year. Even so, if you don’t want to renew your policy, you need to do things the right way. That means you need to switch your car insurance policy so that you can maintain continuous vehicle insurance.

See More: Cheap Car Insurance

Switching Car Insurance

For the most part, you can switch car insurance companies at any time without penalty. Switching car insurance at renewal is common because that’s when most people reevaluate their car insurance policy.

If you decide to switch car insurance, you need to make sure you give yourself plenty of time to have things done the right way. First, you need to be sure that there’s no lapse in coverage—even missing a single day of coverage can create big problems (more on this next).

Second, you want to be sure you have enough time to evaluate your coverage options and adjust your insurance plan to best fit your needs. You also want to make sure you give yourself enough time to compare your options before you buy.

What happens if I let my policy expire but continue driving without insurance?

Lapses in car insurance coverage are never a good thing. If you get into a car accident while driving uninsured, you will be held financially responsible for damages. That can mean medical bills, property damage, and more. Just one car accident can easily bankrupt you.

Even if you don’t get into an accident, you can still get caught driving without legally required coverage. That means fines and other penalties that can quickly exceed any of the savings you’d get by forgoing insurance. And, if your car is financed, your lender can also fine you or even repossess your car in some cases.

Finally, your lapse in coverage alone will increase your car insurance rate. If you get a ticket for driving without insurance, you’ll likely be required to file an SR-22 (proof of insurance) documentation with your DMV. SR-22 insurance is more expensive than standard policies.

See More: Best and Worst Sites to Compare Car Insurance

Policy Renewal Is the Right Time to Compare Insurance Quotes

Though reviewing insurance documents isn’t the most exciting task, doing so can save you a lot of money. Not only are you ensuring that your policy is set up in the best way to protect you, but you might also spot coverage options that no longer make sense to carry. And while you’re reviewing your policy, you should also review that your current provider is still your best option.

Insurify makes comparing car insurance quotes easy. All you need to do is fill out one short form to receive quotes from the best companies in your ZIP code. Adjust coverage options to understand all the different costs. Only buy when the price is right. Try it today!

Frequently Asked Questions

  • With most insurance companies, you can renew your policy online. You can also set up your policy for automatic renewal. When renewing online, it’s important to ensure you review any policy changes or price changes. You should also print a physical copy of your insurance card to keep in your car. Renewing online is also a great time to compare your car insurance options.

  • Renewing your car insurance is not necessarily cheaper than switching car insurance. But renewing car insurance is usually less expensive than letting your policy lapse. To know whether renewing with the same car insurance company is cheaper than switching to a new insurance provider, you should compare auto insurance quotes from multiple companies in your area.

  • A lapse in car insurance coverage can cause several issues. On the less serious end, lapses can lead to higher rates for car insurance. Insurance providers prefer drivers with a history of continuous coverage. On the more serious end, you could get in trouble with your lender or the law. Driving without insurance can lead to a suspension of driving privileges, fees, and fines.

  • You only need to provide credit card information at renewal time if you do not have automatic debits set up on your account or you need to update your payment information. Some insurers may ask you to verify your payment info, but most will continue charging you until you or your company cancels your motor insurance policy. Always verify your policy at the time of renewal.

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  • Data scientists at Insurify analyzed over 40 million auto insurance rates across the United States to compile the car insurance quotes, statistics, and data visualizations displayed on this page. The car insurance data includes coverage analysis and details on drivers' vehicles, driving records, and demographic information. With these insights, Insurify is able to offer drivers insight into how their car insurance premiums are priced by companies.

JJ Starr
JJ Starr

Insurance Writer

J.J. Starr is a health and finance writer with a background in banking, lending, and financial advising. She holds a Series 6, FINRA, and life insurance licensure and a master's degree from New York University. Through her writing, she strives to use her decade of experience to help consumers make sound financial choices. Connect with J.J. on LinkedIn.

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