Auto Accident: Lapsed Insurance

What do you do when you're in a car accident and then find out your insurance has lapsed? Lapsed insurance means you may have missed paying for coverage and you're no longer covered. You may not even realized that it's happened. Your company is required to let you know when a payment hasn't been made and if it isn't paid, you'll lose coverage.

Grace Period

Many times your insurance company provides a period of time before it actually closes your policy. This is a grace period. If you're within that window, and pay your premiums, coverage will continue to be effective. However, if you're outside that time period, you may have bigger problems.

You might want to inquire about additional methods of notification when payment is due and set up a way to be notified that will get to you. If you're late, there may be late fees as well.

Some insurance companies do not offer a grace period. They may pick up your coverage again at a later date after you've taken care of the current situation. However, your new coverage will not be backdated to cover the time of the accident.

Tickets and Fines

If you have an accident and you don't have insurance, you'll likely get a ticket and pay any fine imposed as well as any fines your state imposes for driving without insurance.

Make sure you check with your local department of motor vehicles to see if your car registration or your license is affected by the lapse in insurance. Then you can go about getting insurance coverage again. Again, your new coverage will not be backdated to cover the time of the accident.

Past the Grace Period

If you have an accident and weren't at fault and weren't covered by insurance at the time, you could be in luck. The other driver, who has insurance, might pay for your damages and you'll get your car fixed. If you were at fault, you could end up in a lawsuit and lose your assets without the protection of insurance coverage.

It's not just the cost of repairs of the other person's car that you could end up paying, but medical expenses, loss of property, and more that could affect your finances and lifestyle for a very long time.

Driving without insurance is illegal and a bit like playing Russian roulette. Accidents happen regardless of how well you drive and how cautious you are. Don't gamble with your life or finances.

Questions For Your Attorney

  • My insurance company doesn't offer a grace period if I fail to pay my premium and it doesn't offer any notification if I'm late with a payment. What can I do to protect myself?
  • I received a ticket because my insurance had expired at the time of my accident, but my insurance company offers a grace period, so technically I was covered by my old policy. Can I fight this ticket?
Related Resources on Lawyers.comsm

- Dealing With Insurance Companies
- Automobile Insurance articles and information
- Automobile Accidents articles and information
- Finding an Insurance Lawyer


If you've been involved in a car accident within the last three years, please consider taking our car accident survey so that we can include your experience in the published results of Martindale-Nolo's 2016 Car Accident Survey. Your confidential participation will help inform others about their situation and options before dealing with their car accident.

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