How do I know if my car insurance is active?

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Brad Larsen
Licensed Insurance Agent for 6 Years

UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020

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Things to know...
  • Auto policies will remain active if they are paid on time and if the named insured provides the information requested
  • Your payment is due at the time you open a policy but you may have regular installments due each month as well
  • Most carriers will cancel your coverage for non-payment of premiums 1 to 10 days after your payment is late
  • If your coverage is no longer active, it means that a claim filed past the cancellation date will be denied
  • You can call the toll-free number, use an automated system, or check online to see if the policy is active

If you have tons of different bills to pay, it’s easy to lose track of your billing due dates. From your rent, electricity, and cell phone bills, to your credit card and auto loan bills, there are so many days of the month to remember. It’s easy to mix up days to forget completely that you have a billing statement sitting on your kitchen table.

Forgetting to pay your charges for utilities for a few days won’t hurt anything as long as you’re always on time. It’s when you forget to pay something like your car insurance that you’ll see how important it is to organize your due dates.

Learn more about how to avoid having your insurance canceled and make sure to use our free insurance comparison tool above!

Out of all of the companies that bill you, insurers have one of the most rigid late payment policies ever. If you’re late paying the premium, here’s how to see if your policy is still active:

What is the most common reason an insurance policy cancels?


The most common reason that a policy will cancel during the term is that of non-payment of premiums. When the policy is set up, you have to make an initial payment so that coverage will take effect. If no payment is made when the application is submitted, there is no coverage. There is also no coverage if payments billed throughout the term are never paid.

When will a policy cancel for non-payment?

Unfortunately, some people set up installments and fail to realize how important it is to pay the next installment by the due date. Insurance is one of those bills you can’t put off because of how the billing aspect is structured. Instead of billing you after you’ve already used up the coverage, the insurer bills you before coverage is even afforded.

Since you have to pay premiums in advance rather than in arrears, you can’t be late on your premium installment or the policy will cancel for non-payment. When the policy terminates depends on the rules in the state. In some states, all providers are required to send a notice to their policyholders essentially warning them that the policy is about to be canceled.

If the impending cancellation notice has to be sent by law, you may have 10 to 30 days to make your payment after the bill was already due. It’s when the state doesn’t require an advance notice to be sent for non-payment cancellations that you won’t have any wiggle room. In these states, the policy can literally cancel at 12:01 am the day after your payment was supposed to be submitted.

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What happens if you receive a notice?

If you get a notice nonpayment, look at it closely. There’s a good chance that your policy is still active if you open the letter and you follow the instructions on the notice right away.

If you wait for even just a week, you could already have a lapsed policy. Typically, non-payment of premium notices will tell you when your payment was due, how long you have to submit your payment, and what date the coverage will cancel if you don’t make a payment or contact the company directly.

If you have a quarterly or semi-annual installment due and you can’t afford the whole payment, you may be able to change the installment plan and make a payment before there’s any lapse.

If you have a quarterly or semi-annual installment due and you can’t afford the whole payment, you may be able to change the installment plan and make a payment before there’s any lapse.

Look Out for a Cancellation Notice


If you don’t get a notice explaining that your grace period is about to end, you’ll definitely get a notice telling you that your coverage has canceled and any claims that you file after a certain date will not be honored. This means that your policy is inactive and that you’re not in compliance with mandatory insurance laws.

How can you check the status of your policy on the phone?

If you didn’t get any notices or you moved and forget to change your address, there are other ways to check and see if your coverage is active.

One of the easiest ways to check and see if your current term is still in effect is to pick up the phone and call the insurance company directly.

You can either call your local agent or the toll-free number. When you call to ask about the status of your policy, make sure that you have your policy number. You can find it on an old document or on your ID cards that you keep in your glove box.

This makes looking up your policy information much easier. If you don’t have the number, you will have to verify your name, address and possibly VIN.

Using an Automated System

If you don’t want to speak with anyone and you want to make a quick call, you might be able to access your company’s automated system. This will tell you when your bill was due and if it is past due.

If the payment is past due, it should tell you when your covered cancels. You need your policy number and verification information to get into the system.

Logging Into Your Policy Online

More and more auto insurance companies are reducing operational expenses by investing money into online tools. These tools give insurance customers access to their policies online. If you have a username and password, you should log into the policy online and you can easily see if it’s active.

The same goes for mobile systems if you have the company’s mobile app installed on your phone. Never intentionally let your insurance go inactive. If you find out the policy is terminated, you should take action immediately to reinstate your policy.

If you’re less than 30 days late, most policies can be reinstated with a payment. When it’s been longer, you have to purchase a new policy. In this case, use an online quoting system for multiple quotes and get a great deal!

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