State laws and insurance companies' guidelines / policy terms differ however in general for auto insurance there is no grace period between policy terms. While other types of insurance coverages, such as life or health insurance, may have grace periods built in insurance covering a motor vehicle usually does not. There are grace periods for payment due dates.
Since there is not normally any type of grace period in regards to motor vehicle insurance if your payment is not in on time then your policy usually lapses. Typically the cancellation of your policy would take place at 12:01 AM on the date stated on your renewal or insurance notice.
State laws do differ, as do insurance companies' guidelines, regarding if there is a grace period between a due date and an insurance policy cancellation. In some states there may be a grace period or a number of days in which the company must give you notice of cancellation. For example, in New Jersey if your insurance company cancels your policy for non-payment you should receive a 15 day warning notice.
Most states require a notice of cancellation so many insurance providers include the notice as part of the payment notice or mailed bill, stating that if the payment is not paid before a certain date the policy will be cancelled.
If the cancellation/bill states 12/1/08 it will likely list a time element saying 12:01 AM meaning that at midnight, the day before, the policy will be cancelled if the payment is not made. Many companies have a toll-free number on the bill to call if you have billing question. Do not wait until the day of cancellation to call and get information or it may be too late.
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.
If your insurance has lapsed then you should try to get it reinstated as soon as possible and not drive while you do not have insurance in place. In states where you are required to car insurance while your car is registered then there are normally penalties you will receive for a lapse since your insurer likely already notified the state of the cancellation of your coverages.
For example in Pennsylvania a lapse can give you penalties such as a suspended license and registration. In fact if Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) finds your auto insurance has lapsed for over 31 days you will have your vehicle's registration suspended for 3 months. If you are found to have operated the vehicle without insurance your license will be suspended for 3 months as well.
In New York you may not be required to surrender your plates for a lapse of 90 days or shorter if you pay a civil penalty fine. If the lapse exceeds 90 days your driver's license will be suspended. If you do not surrender your plates to the DMV they will suspend your registration and driver license indefinitely. To reinstate your driver license you must pay a fee of $25 when the suspension ends.
If your former insurance policy has lapsed or canceled and you cannot get it reinstated you should shop around for coverage with other auto insurance carrier. You can get free auto insurance quotes here with us.