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Almost every state requires car insurance, so it’s likely you have an existing auto policy. Depending on your insurer, your policy could renew automatically, or you might receive a notice from your auto insurance company shortly before it’s scheduled to expire.
How frequently you renew your car insurance depends on the length of your policy’s term, though common terms are six or 12 months. If you have questions about car insurance renewal and what the process is like, here’s what you should know.
Car insurance policies are generally in effect for six or 12 months, depending on the insurer. So when you have to renew, your coverage will depend on your policy’s term length. Certain insurance companies may also automatically renew your current policy to prevent it from lapsing. You simply continue to pay your premiums and keep the same coverage you had previously.
Depending on the insurer, you may also need to sign paperwork to renew your existing car insurance. If this is the case, your insurance provider will generally send you a car insurance renewal offer shortly before your policy expires. To avoid a lapse in coverage, it’s best to complete this paperwork promptly.
If your coverage lapses and you’re in a car accident, you could end up with a significant financial burden without coverage. Beyond that, your state’s registry of motor vehicles could suspend your license, authorities could seize or impound your car, and your future insurance rates could increase. Given that the consequences are fairly serious, it’s best to avoid a lapse in coverage.
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How do you renew your car insurance policy?
Renewing your car insurance policy could be as simple as continuing to pay your monthly premiums, though you’ll likely receive a copy of your policy to review before it’s automatically renewed. The renewal process can vary depending on where you live and your insurer, but you’ll generally follow these steps.
1. Read your renewal offer
When you receive a renewal offer from your insurance company, reading through it is essential. Consider finding a copy of the previous year’s policy documents and comparing them to determine if there are changes.
Pay particular attention to your premiums and if they’re higher for your new policy. If your new policy premiums increased, you can contact your insurance company to discuss why. You might also decide not to renew your policy because of increased rates.
2. Determine whether or not you want to renew
The next step is figuring out if you want to renew your coverage or get a policy from a different insurer. Here’s what to do if you decide to renew versus not renew your car insurance coverage.
If you decide to renew: You may decide you’re happy with your coverage and your insurance rates. If this is the case, renewing your coverage may be as simple as continuing to pay the monthly premiums to your insurer. Depending on the insurance provider you use, you may also need to submit a signed document to keep your coverage. Ask your insurer about the process when your coverage is scheduled for renewal.
If you decide not to renew: You can decline your insurer’s renewal offer orcancel your policy. You may be able to do so over the phone or online. But different car insurance companies have different processes for canceling a policy, so it’s best to speak with your insurer to get insight into the process. If your insurance coverage automatically renews, be sure to cancel it before paying your first premium on the new policy.
Do you have to renew your car insurance policy?
You generally aren’t obligated to renew an existing car insurance policy with your insurer. But if you’re planning to switch companies, do it promptly to avoid a coverage lapse and higher insurance rates.
Consider getting auto insurance quotes from at least three other companies to find an affordable policy that meets your needs.
Why do car insurance rates go up?
Several scenarios may cause your car insurance rates to increase. Some may be within your control, while others may be the result of your insurance company’s business decisions. Here are some common reasons your insurance premiums could go up:
At-fault accident: If you’re deemed at fault in an accident, your auto policy premiums will likely be more expensive.
Speeding ticket:Speeding tickets are a common driving offense, and they could cause your premiums to increase, depending on the severity of the offense.
Driving under the influence: Your insurance costs will probably go up after a DUI conviction. Depending on the state where you live and whether it’s your first offense, a DUI could be considered a traffic violation or a crime.
Insurance claim: Insurance claims can also increase your rates. For instance, if you submit a claim against your comprehensive car insurance policy due to an event that’s outside of your control, such as weather-related damage to your car, your premiums could increase.
Claims in your area: The number of claims in your area can also affect the cost of your coverage. For instance, if more local drivers file claims, your insurer may experience financial losses and pass that cost on to policyholders.
Moving to a new location: The cost of your coverage also varies based on where you live. If you reside in a low-crime area, your policy may be cheaper than if you moved to an area with higher crime rates.
What if your insurance company decides not to renew your policy?
Just as you aren’t obligated to renew your policy, your insurance company isn’t obligated to do so either. If your insurer chooses to not renew your policy, it will send you a non-renewal notice in the mail or by email shortly before your existing coverage expires.
Car insurance companies can decline to renew a policy for a few reasons, some of which are outside of your control. For instance, an insurer may opt to issue fewer policies in a certain state. A non-renewal can also happen for the following reasons:
Multiple driving violations, including speeding tickets or DUIs
Filing multiple car insurance claims in a short time period
If you receive a non-renewal notice from your insurance company, don’t panic. Chances are you may be able to get coverage from a different car insurance company fairly quickly, depending on your situation. However, people with several driving violations may have trouble finding a new policy.
Start by comparing auto coverage using an online auto insurance comparison tool. This kind of tool will help you understand what companies offer and what you can expect to pay for coverage. If you find an affordable policy that offers the necessary coverage, contact that insurer to discuss your options.
Is there a difference between car insurance cancellation and non-renewal?
Insurance companies can cancel policies in the middle of a policy term. However, policy cancellation is fairly uncommon, and insurers generally only cancel your coverage if you fail to pay your premiums, commit fraud, or your driver’s license is revoked.
Given that these are serious issues, it may be challenging to find suitable coverage from a new insurer if your policy is canceled mid-term. On the contrary, if you receive a non-renewal notice from your insurer, you may still be able to get coverage from a different provider, depending on the reason for the non-renewal.
Can you renew an expired car insurance policy?
If your car insurance policy expired, it may be possible to renew it, but it depends on your insurance company’s rules and the time that’s passed since coverage expired. To determine if you can renew your old coverage, it’s best to contact your insurance company directly.
You may be able to re-up your policy over the phone if the insurance company permits it, or your insurer may mail or email you paperwork to review and sign. If you can’t renew your former coverage, it’s important to find a replacement policy quickly. Acting fast can help you avoid a significant lapse in coverage and the potentially serious consequences that come with it.
Tips for shopping for car insurance
Shopping for car insurance can seem overwhelming, as there’s no shortage of insurers to choose from. Here are some helpful, time-saving tips for finding coverage if you’re seeking a new auto policy:
Determine your state’s minimum coverage requirements. Before you shop for a new policy, familiarize yourself with your state’s coverage requirements. For instance, coverage requirements in Florida are different from those in Georgia. Knowing your state’s requirements will help you understand the minimums your policy must include.
Use an insurance-comparison site. If you’re unsure how to find the right coverage online, an insurance-comparison site like Insurify lets you compare quotes from different providers in one place. This can save you time as you shop for a new auto policy, and it may even help you get a better rate.
Look for discounts. Many car insurance companies offer discounts for policyholders. As you shop around for coverage, research available discounts from different companies. Common ones include good driver discounts and discounts for installing anti-theft devices, but several discounts could apply depending on the insurer and your situation.
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Car insurance renewal FAQs
If you’re still wondering about car insurance renewal, here are answers to some common questions about the process.
What does car insurance renewal mean?
As its name suggests, car insurance renewal involves continuing your existing auto policy with your current insurance provider. You may need to renew your car insurance coverage every six or 12 months, depending on your policy length. It may also automatically renew.
Will your insurance policy automatically renew?
Many car insurance companies have an auto-renewal process, which means they’ll automatically renew your policy at the end of its term. You’ll generally get a copy of your new policy in the mail before this happens, and you’ll continue to pay your premiums with your current insurer.
While automatic renewal can seem convenient, your car insurance rates could also change without you noticing. In general, it’s best to review your coverage near the end of your policy term to determine if you’d like to keep it or change providers.
Why does car insurance renew every six months?
In many cases, car insurance companies only offer policies with six-month terms, though some may offer 12-month policies as well. Insurers set these terms because they want the flexibility of adjusting your premiums if your driving habits change or you incur moving violations during your previous policy term.
What happens when a car insurance policy ends?
Your coverage will likely lapse if your car insurance policy expires and you don’t renew it. If you don’t renew it, you could risk serious consequences, including the financial burden of a car accident, possible license suspension, higher insurance rates, and repossession of your vehicle.
Insurify data scientists analyzed more than 90 million quotes served to car insurance applicants in Insurify’s proprietary database to calculate the premium averages displayed on this page. These premiums are real quotes that come directly from Insurify’s 50+ partner insurance companies in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Quote averages represent the median price for a quote across the given coverage level, driver subset, and geographic area.
Unless otherwise specified, quoted rates reflect the average cost for drivers between 20 and 70 years old with a clean driving record and average or better credit (a credit score of 600 or higher).
Liability-only premium averages correspond to policies with the following coverage limits:
Bodily injury limits between state-minimum rates and $50,000 per person, $100,000 per accident
Property damage limits between $10,000 and $50,000
No additional coverage
Full-coverage premium averages correspond to the same bodily injury and property damage limits in addition to:
Comprehensive coverage with a $1,000 deductible
Collision coverage with a $1,000 deductible
Quotes for Allstate, Farmers, GEICO, State Farm, and USAA are estimates based on Quadrant Information Services’ database of auto insurance rates.
Georgia Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner. "Auto." Accessed February 21, 2023
Jess UllrichInsurance Writer
Jess is a personal finance writer who's been creating financial and business content for over a decade. Her work is published on Investopedia, MoneyWise, NextAdvisor, The HuffPost, and more. Prior to freelancing full-time, Jess was an editor at Investopedia, The Balance, and FinanceBuzz. Connect with her on LinkedIn.