How to Renew Car Insurance After It Expires

You should renew expired car insurance as soon as possible to avoid fines. Before you renew expired car insurance, compare multiple companies and evaluate your coverage.

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Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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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: Jun 14, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Research customer satisfaction ratings as well as performance when considering an auto insurance company
  • Compare your car’s market value against the amount you pay in collision or comprehensive coverage for the car
  • If you are at fault in an accident, simply not paying for the damages can lead to a lawsuit and ultimately puts you at financial risk

A number of tips can help when it comes time to renewing an auto insurance policy after it expires, although a major tip is not letting a policy expire in the first place.

Allowing your insurance to expire may leave you in a dangerous place, but you can ward off the dangers by renewing your policy even before the expiration has come and gone.

If your policy has already expired, the number one tip is to obtain insurance as quickly as possible, either by renewing your policy or finding a new one.

Comparison shopping is a top way to save money on auto insurance, or anything else for that matter. Just because you’ve been with a particular company for a certain period does not mean you have to stay with them for life.

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Comparison Shopping


Comparing quotes from several companies can be a good practice when it’s time to renew your policy, according to the Better Business Bureau of Metro Atlanta.

When comparing costs, make sure you are comparing prices for the same level of coverage from each company. Also, expand your comparison to look at more than just the cost of insurance.

Customer service generally ranks high on the list of qualities you want in an insurance company, especially when it comes time to filing claims.

Research customer satisfaction ratings, as well as performance to help determine if you are going or staying with a company that provides top-level customer service.

One more important aspect is a company’s financial strength. You don’t want to be stuck being insured by a company that is in danger of going under. Nor do you want to file a claim only to find a company may not have the finances to back it.

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Policy Review

Reviewing your existing policy before renewing it is usually a good idea, the BBB says. You may be paying for coverage you no longer want or need.

The age of your car plays a huge part in this category, with a general rule of thumb that can tell you if you are paying too much to insure a vehicle that no longer merits it.

Compare your car’s market value against the amount you pay in collision or comprehensive coverage for the car.

Do this by multiplying the premium that goes for collision or comprehensive coverage times ten.

If the total is more than the vehicle is worth, you may want to get rid of the optional comprehensive or collision coverage on the vehicle.

Deductibles and Discounts

Increasing your deductible generally decreases your premiums, and discounts may be able to do the same, the BBB points out.

Companies may offer discounts for various reasons, which may or may not be automatically considered unless you ask about them.

A company may offer car insurance discounts for:

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When Companies Won’t Renew

Insurance companies have the right to refuse to renew your policy, but those rights are usually limited under state law. Such laws protect you from having your policy canceled or a renewal refused for arbitrary reasons at random times.

Indiana insurance companies, for example, can only cancel your policy within the first two months of a new policy or for very specific reasons. The reasons include losing your driver’s license or failing to pay your premiums.

They can refuse to renew your policy when an existing policy expires, but only with advance notice of 20 days, according to the Indiana Department of Insurance.

Laws in West Virginia limit a company’s non-renewal rights to even narrower circumstances, explains the West Virginia Insurance Commissioner.

A company can only refuse to renew your policy when your policy expires and it must notify you at least 45 days in advance of the non-renewal.

The notification must also state the specific reasons the company is not opting to renew. The policy must have been in effect for at least two years for the non-renewal to be valid and the reasons must fall under tight guidelines.

Reasons for non-renewal include failure to pay premiums, misrepresenting your financial status to obtain the policy and violating any of the policy’s terms and conditions.

Companies can also drop you if you or a vehicle operator had your license revoked or suspended while the policy was in force or have suffered a mental or physical issue that prevents you from driving.

Breaking the law may lead to non-renewal if you are convicted of any specific vehicle-related violations, such as:

  • Felonies and assaults that involve your car
  • Negligent homicide in your car
  • Driving under the influence
  • Vehicle theft
  • Lying on a driver’s license application
  • Hit and run

Jumping bail on any of these charges are also grounds for non-renewal.

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Dangers of No Coverage


Renewing your auto insurance policy is vital for keeping you protected and following the law.

Although law enforcement officers do not normally troll around waiting to stop you and ask for proof of insurance, it can be a factor if you are stopped for any reason or are involved in an auto accident.

States require at least a minimum level of auto insurance and letting your policy expire can often have dire consequences.

One set of consequences can come from being personally liable for costs involved in damages or injuries if you happen to be in an accident.

All costs for repairing your vehicle, repairing another vehicle if you were at fault for the accident, and injuries incurred by various parties may fall directly to you.

Having no insurance could mean the money must come from you personally, which could severely damage your finances.

Simply not paying for the damages can result in a lawsuit. If you lose the lawsuit and are forced to pay for the damages, your home, vehicle, and other assets could be put at risk.

Fleeing the scene is not a wise option as it can land you in even greater hot water. People may panic and leave the scene of an accident rather than face the consequences of having no auto insurance. That only adds another layer of problems to the existing ones, with possible hit and run charges looming over the driver’s head.

Hit and runs are typically penalized more harshly than lack of auto insurance would be. If law enforcement manages to find the driver of a hit and run that ran because he didn’t have insurance, the driver will then have to face two separate violations.

Quickly applying for auto insurance coverage won’t cut it, as the records will reflect the accident occurred while the driver was not insured.

Policy expirations and lapses are generally reported to the state’s department of motor vehicles, so the state already has a record of policies that have expired and when that expiration took place.

Another set of consequences can come from law enforcement.

If you fail to maintain auto insurance in Arizona, for example, the state has the power to suspend your vehicle registration as well as your driver’s license, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Instead of driving without insurance, that would mean you would not be driving at all until you cleared up the matter.

Clearing up the issue involves paying fees and proving financial responsibility going forward. The financial responsibility is typically obtained from an SR22 form from an auto insurance company.

Lowdown on the SR22

The SR22 is a form that proves you are financially responsible in the event of an accident that was your fault, according to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

Many states, such as Tennessee and Arizona, require the form to reinstate a suspended driver’s license.

You usually obtain the form from an auto insurance company and the company may need to file the form directly with the state. As with other forms of insurance, the SR22 generally has a minimum set of limits that need to be covered under state law.

Because the SR22 is often required after a violation, the cost of maintaining this type of proof may be fairly expensive.

Tennessee requires motorists to maintain the SR22 for a period of five years following a suspension; Arizona has a three-year maintenance period.

If you fail to maintain the SR22 during the required period, your license is once again subject to suspension.

Of course, you can avoid such hassles by keeping an eye on your insurance coverage and making sure you do not let it expire. Although insurance companies may be required to give you a head’s up on your expiration date, it is not something you want to let slide.

You can start researching ways to save money and comparing insurance even before your current policy expires so you have a solid direction in which to travel when the time comes to renew your policy.

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