State laws and insurance company guidelines differ in regards to if there is a grace period for payments and the consequences for not paying on time. In most cases there is not a grace period so if you do not pay your insurance payment by the date and time listed on your insurance policy statement you will be cancelled for non-payment. Having insurance is handled in most states, the same way having a drivers license is handled...if you drive without a license you would have just as severe consequences as driving without insurance. The penalties are different.
You may be able to get your insurance policy reinstated by contacting your insurance provider depending upon their rules and your state's laws. Most reinstatements are not considered a lapse in coverage. If you do not get your insurance reinstated and drive your car without any insurance or get caught by the state for having a lapse in insurance then the penalties placed upon you may include fines, jail time, and license and registration suspension. Also it could be noted on your credit history that you were dropped for non-payment which thus could affect your credit rating.
How long you have to correct the problem will again depend upon if there is any sort of grace period given to you by either your state or your insurance carrier. To find out if your state has an insurance law regulating a grace period or a time period in between when your auto insurance is due and when you pay that allows you to not be canceled, check with your state insurance regulator. If the state does not have a law then check with insurance company to find out what rules they have regarding this and their cancellation process.
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