Car Insurance Renewal: What It Is and How It Works

At the end of your policy period, you can either renew your car insurance or shop for new coverage to avoid an insurance lapse.
Isabel Contreras
By Isabel Contreras 
Edited by Ben Moore Reviewed by Brenda J. Cude

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Nerdy takeaways
  • You can typically renew your insurance policy on your insurer’s website or by contacting your insurance agent.

  • If you signed up for automatic payments, your policy should renew automatically.

  • Before your renewal date, take some time to shop around for different quotes to make sure you’re getting the best deal for your coverage.

Auto insurance renewal is typically a straightforward process. In most cases, it’ll happen automatically: When your policy is close to expiring, your insurer will send you an updated rate. If you’re enrolled in automatic payments, your insurer will charge that amount to your account and you’ll maintain your coverage.

Here’s what to know about an auto insurance renewal.

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How to renew a car insurance policy

Auto insurance policy periods are usually about six or 12 months. Once you near the end of your current policy term, you’ll receive an email or a letter from your insurer that will include the terms it will offer you to renew your policy. Some specifics around your coverage may change, and your car insurance rate will likely increase.

Once you receive that information, you’ll have two options: Renew your current policy with the updated rate or shop for a new one.

Chances are you won’t need to take any action to renew your policy. With most providers, car insurance automatically renews. If you’re happy with your current insurer and want to stick with it, all you’ll need to do is review your updated rate and meet the deadline for your first payment under the new policy. If you’re already enrolled in automatic payments, you’re good to go.

But if you’d like to ensure you’re getting the best deal for your coverage, shop around and compare quotes from other companies before you commit to your current insurer’s new rate.

How to decline a car insurance renewal

If you shopped around and found a more attractive auto insurance policy, make sure your current policy does not renew for another term. This is especially important if you have automatic payments set up, since your insurer will charge the new premium to your account unless you cancel the policy.

Contact your insurer before your current policy’s expiration date to let the company know you won’t be renewing. Also get in touch with your provider to check whether you’ll need to submit a letter of cancellation, or whether you can cancel your policy through email or by calling its customer service number. If you bought your policy through an agent, contact them instead.

You can also switch insurers at any time by canceling your current policy and buying a new one; there’s no need to wait out your policy term.

If you cancel a policy that you paid for in advance, your insurer will send you a refund for coverage you paid for but did not use. Be aware that you could be charged a cancellation fee or other costs if you cancel your policy midterm.

Can my insurer refuse to renew my policy?

An auto insurance company can cancel or refuse to renew your policy as a consequence of things like driving record issues or missed insurance payments.

Here is the difference between a policy cancellation and nonrenewal.


Cancellation can put an end to your current insurance policy at any time. But after 60 days pass since the start of your policy, your auto insurance provider cannot end your coverage for just any reason. Your policy could be canceled if:

  • You receive a DUI conviction.

  • You have your driver’s license revoked or suspended.

  • You make several late payments or fail to pay your insurance premium.

  • You commit insurance fraud.


Nonrenewal happens when your insurer decides against renewing your policy at the end of the coverage term. The company has to give advance notice and explain why it is not renewing. A nonrenewal can occur if:

  • You had multiple accidents in the past three years, especially if you were at fault.

  • You filed too many insurance claims.

  • Your insurer decided to offer fewer policies in your area.

  • Your insurer stopped offering the type of insurance you had purchased.

🤓Nerdy Tip

If your insurer cancels or won’t renew your policy, request quotes from a variety of car insurance providers quickly to be sure you maintain coverage and avoid an insurance lapse. A lapse in coverage could mean you end up paying more for car insurance.

What happens if I don’t renew my policy?

If you don’t renew or replace your car insurance policy by the time your current policy expires, your insurance will lapse and you’ll be left uninsured. Driving without insurance is illegal in most states and can result in a fine or license suspension if you’re pulled over. Lacking coverage can also have extensive financial consequences if you cause a car accident that results in injuries or property damage. Any expenses you’re responsible for would be paid out of your own pocket.

A lapse in auto insurance can also cost you when you decide to get a new policy. If insurers see a lapse on your record, they’ll almost certainly offer you a higher quote when you shop for a new car insurance policy. That’s because insurers see drivers with an insurance lapse as riskier to insure.

Car with shield on road

See what you could save on car insurance

Easily compare personalized rates to see how much switching car insurance could save you.

Can I renew my auto insurance policy after it expires?

While you'll want to always try to prevent a lapse in coverage, life can sometimes get in the way. Some insurers may give a short grace period to renew your car insurance if you missed the deadline. However, note that you may still have a lapse in coverage from the date your previous policy expired and the day you renewed it.

If you are unable to renew your previous car insurance policy, you can always purchase a new one. You can opt to stay with your previous insurer or switch companies.

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