Stephen is an insurance agent and former underwriter of 10 years who blogs about topics that affect you and your money.
Are you covered? If the answer is no, don't panic—I've been there too.
Maybe your insurance lapsed and your old carrier won't cover your vehicles any longer. Maybe they canceled your policy due to an overdue bill you didn't even know about. When I worked in audits and rewrites, I ran into this every day.
However, you have options, and you may not even have to pay much more than you paid previously. These tips are for anyone who finds themself with no coverage, is new to being insured, or finds their costs suddenly exorbitantly high.
Try Some Standard/Non-Standard Carriers
They aren't necessarily worse companies to deal with. The label "non-standard" sounds scary, but I've sold policies to people who had to make claims with these carriers within days of activating their insurance, and most of them had smooth experiences.
The benefit is that you don't need six months to a year of continuous coverage to work with them. Their risk tables are built to handle gaps in coverage, new drivers, and people with accidents in their recent claim history. Some companies will even write for you if you have caused significant damage or have a colorful MVR report.
I was that guy with five speeding tickets once. There are insurance companies that are reputable that design their product to cater to that crowd. You just need to know how to find them.
Your local insurance office has something going for them that the national brand's call center doesn't—non-exclusivity.
They may have to quote you with a premier carrier first, but once they discover you can't insure through them, they often have a whole variety of others they'd be happy to requote you through. Maybe they won't even have to ask you the same questions again. They have rating tools that will allow them to see who will insure you and what your costs will look like.
Phone a Friend
If your friend is in a similar spot, ask who they've enjoyed working with. This doesn't always work because people have many individual factors at play when determining pricing, but if you're trying to establish your coverage and just need someone to agree to cover you for a reasonable cost, this is a great way to find a national or regional brand that can help.
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Reach Out to a Broker
If all else fails, reach out to a broker. I like to call people directly because I hate getting hammered by phone calls. If you request a quote online, your info often gets submitted to an insurance-lead service. They sell your contact information and tell the agents, "This person wants coverage today. Call them relentlessly."
I did this with health insurance once in the early 2000s and am still getting calls to this day as my information is sold and resold. I don't think a person should need a burner phone to get a quote and then be left alone, but c'est la vie . . .
What to Do if Your Auto Insurance Coverage Lapses
What if My Policy Was Just Cancelled Recently?
You've got some extra options. Often, the company you just received a cancellation from can be your best option. They may charge a fee or make you pay for the period of the lapsed coverage, but it's usually worth it.
Keeping your insurance history—even if you plan to change companies soon anyway—pays dividends. Don't get slapped with higher costs for a whole year when you can pay once and be done.
Call your old company back and see if they can get that same policy reinstated. It may cost extra, but it will save you a small fortune in the long run. They can often reinstate your policy if it's within the same month and was canceled due to non-pay.
This is a major benefit to staying with a company for a number of years. They're often more able to work with you in the event that something bad happens.
If they can't reinstate, get them to rewrite or reissue the policy. Depending on whether they want to or not, sometimes you can get roughly the same policy again for a similar cost. It can be higher, but sometimes it isn't much higher.
Quote Another Carrier Immediately
Don't wait. The shorter the lapse, the better the price. Find something affordable and begin it immediately, then shop around for the best price. Call carriers directly instead of quoting online.
Establish/Re-establish Your Insurance History
Get that time and keep it. Don't let your coverage cancel. This will determine who you can insure with, and if you're an accident-free driver with no tickets and good credit, this one factor can cost you the benefit of a premier carrier.
The premier carrier will give the best rate if all of the planets align, and then you can bundle your home, renters, life, boat, ATV, and any other insurance for increased savings.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.