Question: Am I still covered by my car insurance policy if I had an accident on the same day my insurance expired? I thought I had coverage for the full day, but my auto insurance company says that my coverage ended at 12:01 that morning and I’m out of luck. Could that really be true?
Answer: What your auto insurance company says is true. most car insurance policies are set to end at 12:01 a.m. m., so if you look at your insurance card, policy, or billing notice, you should see that the coverage only exists until the expiration date.
Reading: What happens if my insurance expires
when a policy ends at 12:01 a.m. m., you end up having only a minute of coverage on your due date, not a full day’s worth. therefore, an accident at 12:02 a.m. m. or after the expiration date would not normally be covered.
We agree that auto insurance policies can be confusing, especially around the time the policy ends. the actual final due date for the payment is the day before the due date.
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States with insurance verification systems have encountered numerous instances of one-day lapses in auto insurance coverage due to motorists’ misunderstandings about canceling policies and even starting new ones. Please note that you could end up in a coverage gap if:
- Start a replacement policy and cancel your old policy the same day. it is very possible that your previous policy ends at 12:01 a.m. m. and the new policy does not start until 12:01 a.m. m. the next day.
- wait to buy and get a new policy or renew your old one until the expiration date. If you do this, it’s too late because your auto insurance policy has already expired.
- make a renewal payment on the expiration date of your policy. this will result in an expiration as the coverage already expired at 12:01 am. m.
In most states, auto insurance policies do not have a grace period. therefore, if your payment is not received by 12:01 a.m. m. of the expiration date, your policy ends immediately.
State law requires auto insurance companies to send cancellation notices. however, auto insurers may be allowed to comply with that law, within the prescribed time period (usually 10-15 days), by mailing the premium payment bill with the cancellation date clearly indicated and informing you that if you do not pay before the policy will end.
You can check with your state insurance department for specific information on rules regarding cancellation notices and whether any grace periods are allowed for auto policies. however, I wouldn’t get my hopes up, as their insurer already said their coverage had ended and they should comply with state law.
As you’ve already discovered, a break in auto coverage is bad. First, since you don’t have insurance, you are financially responsible for the damages you caused to others. You will also have to pay out of pocket for damage to your car.
Next, you can get a ticket for driving without insurance; This crime carries penalties such as fines and jail time (depending on the laws of your state). In addition, your Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) may have the authority to fine you for not having insurance and suspend your license and/or vehicle registration. To get them reset, you usually need to show proof of insurance in the form of an SR-22.
Finally, a lapse in auto insurance coverage (and an accident, to boot) can send your auto insurance rates skyrocketing. you need to retrieve a policy as soon as possible.
Auto insurance provider rating systems vary widely, so compare insurance rates with several insurers to find the one that’s less concerned about a small gap in coverage and the accident you just had.