How do I renew my car insurance?

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Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Oct 15, 2019

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Car insurance policies will either renew once every 6 months or once every 12 months
  • Your renewal date will be the end of your term listed on your current declaration’s page
  • When a policy is coming up for renewal, the company will reassess the risk about 45 days prior to the renewal date

Auto insurance terms only last so long. At some point, your policy will approach expiration and you’ll need to decide if you want to renew your coverage with the same carrier or if you want to solicit car insurance quotes with the competition.

If you’d prefer to stick with the company you’ve trusted to provide you with protection for the last year, it’s important that you prepare for your renewal date well in advance.

Here’s your guide to personal car insurance renewals and what action you’ll need to take to ensure your coverage doesn’t lapse.

Find affordable car insurance quotes today! Start comparing car insurance rates now by using our FREE tool above!

What’s a car insurance renewal?


When you buy a car insurance policy, you’re agreeing to pay a specified amount of money for a stated amount of coverage that lasts for a period of time.

The standard term will either last for a 6-month period or a 12-month period. Once that term is up, your car insurance renewal is processed.

This will be the new rate for your auto coverage for the same limits and options that you previously carried.

This new renewal rate will be valid for the entire upcoming term and can’t be adjusted unless you make changes voluntarily.

If you’ve had an accident or you’ve been convicted of a violation, the surcharge will be added at the next renewal date.

Renewal mailers will include not just the premium invoices, but also your new declaration’s page and your new ID cards that are to be kept in your car at all times.

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When does your auto insurance policy renew?

When your policy will be set up for renewal is entirely dependent on the inception date.

It’s also important that you know that the length of the term plays an important role in how often you’ll receive new renewal invoices.

If you have an annual insurance policy, you’ll only get one renewal per year.

The date of your renewal will be the same every year for as long as you stay with the company. If you have a 6-month policy, you’ll receive two renewals every year.

How are you notified when it’s time to renew?

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You aren’t just expected to memorize your renewal date as a policyholder. It’s actually the carrier’s responsibility to notify you in an appropriate manner when it’s time to renew.

Notifications by mail are most common, but some companies where the clients have opted out of receiving mail might send a renewal by email rather than by mail.

You should ask your agent how you’ll receive your invoices and new renewal documents so that you know where to look when the time comes.

What happens when the insurance company assesses a policy for renewal?

When a policy is purchased, underwritten and then issued, the insurer guarantees that they won’t raise your rates during the term even if you have a loss or if you get a speeding ticket.

It’s not until your policy comes up for renewal that the carrier will underwrite your policy again to determine if they still want to take on the risk and if they need to charge you additional premiums.

Here are some ways that risk will be reassessed:

  • Underwriters will run all of the drivers’ motor vehicle reports
  • Underwriters will review the household’s claims history for at-fault losses
  • New credit-based insurance scores will be run in states where credit can be a factor
  • Insurers will review odometer readings to update usage and annual mileage ratings
  • Discount eligibility will be reviewed and proof for discounts may be requested
  • Questionnaires may be sent to request information on unlisted household drivers

How much time are you given to review your renewal?

After the new premiums have been calculated based on the new risk that’s present, all of the renewal invoices are mailed or emailed to the client.

It’s most common for the underwriting to take place about 45 days before the term expires.

In many states, it’s a consumer right that the insurer sends renewal information no less than 30 days before expiration.

This gives the policyholder time to budget for new rates and to shop the market to find lower pricing.

Do you have to notify the insurer that you want to renew?


You may need to notify the insurer that you’ll want to continue coverage, but only in a sense that you’ll need to submit your payment.

There’s not a document that you must submit where you check a box that says ‘yes I want to renew’.

Instead, you’ll have an invoice that shows you all of the payment plan options.

You can pay in full, quarterly or even monthly by the due date to keep the coverage active and continuous.

You don’t really need to do anything if you already have automatic payments set up through an Electronic Funds Transfer.

If this has already been arranged with the carrier, the drafts will be updated and they will continue to come out the same day each of the month.

What is a non-renewal?

In some cases, the insurer might decide that they don’t want to continue doing business with you. This happens when you’ve filed too many claims, when you’ve had too many tickets, or when you’ve disclosed you have a high-risk driver in the home.

This happens when you’ve filed too many claims, when you’ve had too many tickets, or when you’ve disclosed you have a high-risk driver in the home.

If something happens that makes you too much of a risk, the insurer will send you a notice of non-renewal at least 30 days before coverage will end.

This notice will not only show the date where coverage ends, it will also state the reason for the non-renewal.

What should you do if you choose to switch carriers?


Shopping around is an option when you want to find affordable rates. If you’ve decided that it’s better to go with a competitor, you need to be sure that you notify your carrier that you’re not renewing.

This is very important when you have EFT payments set up because the payments will still come out of your account unless you expressly notify the company of your intentions.

If you’re not happy with the new rates you’ve been charged, it’s time to shop the market.

You can either contact each company directly, or you can use an online rating tool that will take a fraction of the time. An online broker-style system will only ask for your information once and can be accessed all hours of the day.

Plug in your information, check out the prices and then choose the best carrier available.

Start comparing car insurance rates now by entering your zip code in our FREE tool below!

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