Can you have car insurance with an expired license?

You cannot get car insurance with an expired license in the U.S. Insurance companies require a valid driver's license, and may give you a 10-30 day renewal window before canceling your policy.

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A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Sep 16, 2021

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Here's what you need to know...

  • One of the underwriting requirements to get auto insurance is that you have a valid US driver’s license
  • When you’re applying for insurance for a vehicle that you own, you need to meet all of the mandatory requirements
  • While an expired license isn’t as bad as a suspended license, it can still disqualify you from getting coverage
  • Most insurance carriers will run your motor vehicle report after you apply for insurance and make your first payment
  • When a license is expired, the company may give you 10 to 30 days to get it renewed before canceling your policy

When you’re ready to apply for a driver’s license, you’ll have to pass both a written exam and a behind-the-wheel test at your local motor vehicle agency. Once you pass both exams and the vision test, you’ll officially be a licensed driver.

You might be asked to provide approved documents for proof of address if your address has changed and proof of your social security number.

After the license is issued, it will remain in effect for as long as five years in most states. After the licensing period is up, you’ll have to go through the renewal process.

Renewing your license doesn’t have to be a chore. Now, with electronic systems, renewals are easier than ever. If you don’t complete the renewal application on time or make your payment, your license will expire and you’ll lose your driving privilege.

If you own your own car, having an expired license can pose a problem with your insurance company.

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What are the underwriting requirements to get insurance?

If you own your own car, you need to insure that vehicle in your name. Unfortunately, not everyone qualifies for a standard auto insurance policy because of their licensing status, their driving record, their accident history, or even their criminal history.

Every company, whether it’s a preferred carrier that targets experienced drivers or a high-risk insurer that targets drivers with spotty records, has its own set of underwriting guidelines. No matter who you are, you must meet these guidelines to get your own insurance coverage in your own name:

  • You must have a valid license
  • Your license must be issued in the United States
  • You must have an acceptable driving record
  • You must not have prior lapses of insurance
  • You must not have criminal convictions for filing fraudulent claims
  • You must have an insurable interest in the vehicle you’re insuring

Moreover, before you register a vehicle, you must show proof of insurance (usually Personal Injury Protection and Property Damage Liability Coverage). You must keep the required insurance coverage throughout the registration period, otherwise, your driving privilege and license plate may be suspended.

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How does an insurer view an expired license?

When your license expires, you lose your driving privilege because you never submitted your renewal application and your payment.

In some cases, a license will expire when you submitted your application but you were required to renew in person.

Either way, you can’t drive your car on an expired license after your renewal birthday passes or you will be cited.

You might not think that an expired license is as bad as a suspended or revoked one, but to an insurer evaluating and underwriting an application, expired licenses are the same as any other inactive driving privilege.

When the record is pulled and the license comes up expired, the company is free to take action because you’re ineligible for coverage.

When will an insurance company find out your license is expired?

When you apply for auto insurance and you’re getting instant quotes, the companies giving you the rate estimates won’t actually know if you have an active license.

It’s not a common practice for insurance companies to run your motor vehicle report through the state when you’re getting quotes.

Running a motor vehicle report costs the auto insurance company money. The more drivers on your policy, the more money the insurer must pay to verify the information on your application.

After you submit your application for the coverage and it’s clear that you’ll proceed with a certain provider, the company will definitely run the reports and find out that the license is expired.

What happens when the insurer finds out your license is expired?

Whether or not your insurer will cancel your policy and refund your money to you depends on the carrier. Some of the more lenient companies will send out a renewal notice to the policyholder requesting them to submit proof that they have renewed their policy.

You may have to get this done in as soon as 10 days to avoid termination of your coverage.

As soon as you have taken action to renew the policy, you can notify the insurer to avoid a cancellation. This is only when the company doesn’t cancel the policy automatically.

Preferred providers who base rates off of whether or not you have let your driving privilege or insurance lapse might rescind your application for failing to mention your license wasn’t valid.

Moreover, failure to keep the required insurance coverage may result in the suspension of your license and a requirement to pay a reinstatement fee.

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What do you have to do to renew your driver’s license?

Renewing your license isn’t very difficult. In most states, you have a lot of wiggle room as to when you can renew your license as well.

You can renew is up to six months early and even up to 60 days past your renewal date without having to go through the entire licensing process again.

In most states, when you qualify for renewals by mail, phone, and the Internet, you can answer a few questions about your physical and mental abilities and renew your license.

You’ll also be asked to pay the renewal fee which can be made by paying with a check, cash, or credit.

If you wait until the last minute, your license expires, or you’re over the age of 65, you’ll have to renew your license in person. At that time, you’ll get a temporary license and then you’ll receive your new ID with your new photo in the mail within 90 days.

It’s easy to avoid letting your driver license expire. If you’ve overlooked the due date, make sure you go to the DMV right away.

If you apply for insurance while the license is expired, you could wind up having to get insurance with a high-risk company.

When you need auto insurance quotes, get the rate estimates the easy way by shopping online. Instantly compare rates, choose an auto insurance policy, and renew your license right away so you can keep coverage.

Start right now by entering your zip code below.



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