How Gaps in Coverage Affect Auto Insurance Rates
A lapse in coverage increases your risk and your rates. It may be harder to find suitable and affordable car insurance and may mean that you need to make some sacrifices in order to keep those insurance premiums at an affordable level. But it’s not a complete disaster and is far from the worst thing you can have on […] How Gaps in Coverage Affect Auto Insurance Rates is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.

A lapse in coverage increases your risk and your rates. It may be harder to find suitable and affordable car insurance and may mean that you need to make some sacrifices in order to keep those insurance premiums at an affordable level. But it’s not a complete disaster and is far from the worst thing you can have on your record.

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What is a Gap in Coverage?

A lapse or gap in coverage is a period in which you were not insured. You owned a car during this period but you didn’t meet the state minimum insurance requirements.

In some cases, a gap in coverage can be the result of negligence on your part. You may have allowed your insurance policy to lapse without purchasing a new one or it may have been canceled because you failed to meet your payment obligations.

A lapse in auto insurance coverage can also occur when you are deployed, sent to prison or because you simply didn’t drive during that period. 

If you fall into the first group, your insurer will notify the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), telling them that your car insurance policy has lapsed and you are no longer insured. This will expose you to fines and a host of other problems (see our guide on the penalties imposed on uninsured drivers).

As for members of the military, they can suspend their car insurance coverage when they are on active duty, thus avoiding any rate increases and other problems. The same applies to students studying abroad, although in their case, they will need to contact their DMV first.

What Happens Following a Car Insurance Lapse?

Many states require you to have continuous insurance, which means your auto insurance policy has not lapsed for any period of time. As soon as it lapses, your license and registration may be revoked, and you will need to pay a fee to have these reinstated. These fees, as they apply in each state, are listed below, but it’s worth noting that you may also be hit with additional court fees and fines if you are found to be driving without insurance:

  • Alabama: Insurance Lapse Fee = $200 (first offense); $400 (second offense)
  • Alaska: Insurance Lapse Fee = $100
  • Arizona: Insurance Lapse Fee = $50
  • Arkansas: Insurance Lapse Fee = $50
  • California: Insurance Lapse Fee = $14
  • Colorado: Insurance Lapse Fee = $40
  • Connecticut: Insurance Lapse Fee = $200
  • Delaware: Insurance Lapse Fee = $100 + $5 a day
  • D.C.: Insurance Lapse Fee = $150 + $7 a day
  • Florida: Insurance Lapse Fee = $150 (first offense); $250 (second offense); $500 (third offense)
  • Georgia: Insurance Lapse Fee = $25
  • Hawaii: Insurance Lapse Fee = $20+
  • Idaho: Insurance Lapse Fee = $85
  • Illinois: Insurance Lapse Fee = $100
  • Indiana: Insurance Lapse Fee = $150 (first offense); $225 (second offense); $300 (third offense)
  • Iowa: Insurance Lapse Fee = N/A
  • Kansas: Insurance Lapse Fee = $100 (first offense); $300 (second offense)
  • Kentucky: Insurance Lapse Fee = $40
  • Louisiana: Insurance Lapse Fee = $125 to $525 (depending on length of gap)
  • Maine: Insurance Lapse Fee = Up to $115
  • Maryland: Insurance Lapse Fee = $150 + $7 per day
  • Massachusetts: Insurance Lapse Fee = $500
  • Michigan: Insurance Lapse Fee = $75
  • Minnesota: Insurance Lapse Fee = $30
  • Mississippi: Insurance Lapse Fee = $30
  • Missouri: Insurance Lapse Fee = $20 (first offense); $200 (second offense); $400 (third offense)
  • Montana: Insurance Lapse Fee = N/A
  • Nebraska: Insurance Lapse Fee = $500
  • Nevada: Insurance Lapse Fee = $251 to $1,000 (depending on length of gap)
  • New Hampshire: Insurance Lapse Fee = N/A
  • New Jersey: Insurance Lapse Fee = $100
  • New Mexico: Insurance Lapse Fee = $30
  • New York: Insurance Lapse Fee = $8 to $12 per day
  • North Carolina: Insurance Lapse Fee = $50 (first offense); $100 (second offense); $150 (third offense)
  • North Dakota: Insurance Lapse Fee = N/A
  • Ohio: Insurance Lapse Fee = $160 (first offense); $360 (second offense); $660 (third offense)
  • Oklahoma: Insurance Lapse Fee = $400
  • Oregon: Insurance Lapse Fee = $75
  • Pennsylvania: Insurance Lapse Fee = $88
  • Rhode Island: Insurance Lapse Fee = $30 to $50
  • South Carolina: Insurance Lapse Fee = $550 + $5 per day
  • South Dakota: Insurance Lapse Fee = $78 to $228
  • Tennessee: Insurance Lapse Fee = $115
  • Texas: Insurance Lapse Fee = $100
  • Utah: Insurance Lapse Fee = $100
  • Vermont: Insurance Lapse Fee = $71
  • Virginia: Insurance Lapse Fee = $145
  • Washington: Insurance Lapse Fee = $75
  • West Virginia: Insurance Lapse Fee = $100
  • Wisconsin: Insurance Lapse Fee = $60
  • Wyoming: Insurance Lapse Fee = $50

Will My Car Insurance Rates Increase Following a Gap in Coverage?

In addition to the fines mentioned above, you can expect your auto insurance quotes to be a little higher than before, although this all depends on how long the gap in coverage was.

If it was less than 4 weeks, the rate increase may amount to a few extra dollars a month. If it was longer than 4 weeks, you could find yourself paying 20% to 50% more, depending on your chosen car insurance company. 

The exact rate of increase will depend on the state, high-risk status, driving record, car insurance discounts, and age of the driver. Insurance is all about measuring risk and probable claims, and an insurance company will look at everything from marital status to DUI convictions when measuring your risk and underwriting your new policy.

Bottom Line: Getting Cheap Car Insurance Quotes After a Lapse

In our research, we found that Progressive, Esurance, and State Farm offered lower rates than GEICO, even though GEICO typically tops the charts when it comes to insurance costs. You should also get much lower auto insurance rates with providers like USAA, providing you qualify.

To save even more, maintain a high credit score, aim for those good driver discounts, and try to secure bundling discounts, which are provided when you combine multiple different insurance products, such as homeowners insurance and car insurance.

The car you drive is also key. A new car will generally lead to much higher rates than a car that is a few years old, as it will be more expensive to repair and replace.

However, a car that is a few decades old will cost more to insurance than one that is a few years old, as it may lack the safety features and anti-theft features needed to keep rates low.

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