Some things happen every six months — like dental cleanings, adjusting clocks and changing the battery on a smoke detector. Car insurance renewals can also be added to that list. In general, most car insurance policies renew every six months for rate and policy adjustments although it’s possible to purchase and one year policies. Learn more about six-month car insurance policies, including the advantages and disadvantages and cost comparisons, to determine if it’s the right policy option for you. 

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Written by:
Katrina Raenell
Contributing Researcher
Katrina Raenell is a writer, editor and educator with 20 years of experience in content and communications for international organizations, nonprofits and start-ups. In her previous roles, she was a communications manager for study abroad, content project manager for higher education and finance websites, reported on arts and culture, and was a managing editor for an online health and wellness publication.
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Reviewed by:
Laura Longero
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Executive Editor
Laura is an award-winning editor with experience in content and communications covering auto insurance and personal finance. She has written for several media outlets, including the USA Today Network. She most recently worked in the public sector for the Nevada Department of Transportation.

Why do most car insurance companies offer six-month insurance? 

Six months is just the right amount of time for an auto insurer to evaluate your recent driving record and decide if any adjustments to your policy should be made before renewing. It creates a routine opportunity to review your driving record for violations you may have received or any improvements you’ve made, such as taking a defensive driving course. As a driver, it’s also a good time to review discounts and rate reductions with your insurer or shop around for a new policy. 

Let’s look at an example: Say you buy car insurance and a couple of months later, you get in an at-fault accident. Since you’ve just purchased coverage, your insurance company doesn’t want to wait nearly a year to raise your rate or spend time re-evaluating your policy. By offering policies in shorter increments, the insurance company can adjust your rate sooner, if needed, and avoid losing money if your risk increases. 

That might seem like a drawback — at least if you’re not a great driver — but six-month car insurance policies can also work in your favor. For example, let’s say you had a couple of minor violations on your driving record in your younger days, but have been working on being a more responsible driver. Or perhaps you recently joined a professional group that qualifies you for a rate discount. You only have to wait six months for your policy to reflect the lower rate you earned. 

What is a six-month car insurance premium? 

Typically, when you sign up for car insurance, you agree to pay your premiums for coverage every month, six months or annually. If you opt for a six-month car insurance premium, there are several ways you can make payments.  

Most insurers allow you to break up your premium into smaller payments — every three months, two months or monthly. Remember, however, that spreading out your payments will usually result in an extra convenience charge. If you have the cash, paying your six-month premium in full is the cheapest option. 

Your policy would cover you based on your selected limits — liability, comprehensive or collision car insurance coverage. At the end of your policy term, it would end and the insurer can recalculate your rate. It may go up or down, or it may stay the same if your driving record remains the same. 

Advantages of six-month car insurance policies 

To determine if a six-month car insurance policy is the right option for you, it’s important to review its advantages and disadvantages. While companies typically offer six-month insurance policies for their benefit, you can also benefit from a six-month policy. 

  • Ability to shop around: When it comes to insurance, periodically comparing other insurers’ coverage options is a good rule of thumb — especially if there’s a better deal available out there. If you feel your current six-month policy is too expensive, you can choose not to renew at the end of yours and switch to a more affordable policy.  
  • Discounts are applied sooner: There are several ways to score car insurance discounts. You could qualify for various discounts, such as good driver, good student or those offered to alumni or professional organizations. Insurers even provide discounts for enrolling in paperless communications or putting an anti-theft device on your car. If you qualify for one of these discounts mid-policy, you only need to wait a few months for it to be reflected when you renew. 
  • Opportunity to negotiate: If you find a better deal when shopping around, you can bring it to your current insurer’s attention. Car insurance companies also purposely set their policies to six months to remain competitive. So if you find a good deal, ask your insurer to match it (or better, beat it) when it’s time to renew at the end of six months. 

Disadvantages of six-month car insurance policies 

While shopping around could potentially help save you money, it’s advisable to look at some of the drawbacks of a six-month car insurance policy. By fully understanding what a six-month insurance policy offers, you can determine if this best matches your needs.  

  • Budgeting is trickier: It can be easier to purchase a longer car insurance policy because you can pay the premium in full and not think about it again for a year. However, by opting for a six-month policy, budgeting may be necessary as you have to pay for it midway through the year. This may also mean you’re paying a higher or lower rate.  
  • Rates can increase sooner: Just as your six-month premium could decrease more often than a longer-term policy, it could also increase more often. If you have an accident, your credit score drops, or you experience some other situation that makes you a higher risk, your insurer can increase your rate within a few months. 

How much is full coverage insurance for six months? 

The national average rate for six-month full coverage auto insurance policy is $879 ($100,000 for injury liability for one person, $300,000 for all injuries and $100,000 for property damage in an accident and a $500 deductible). Your rates will vary based on the vehicle and personal factors. 

How to get the best six-month car insurance rates 

The cost of a six-month total policy premium will depend on several factors, including where you live. You can start to estimate your payment by comparing average monthly car insurance rates by zip code. 

Next, shop around for the cheapest car insurance. It’s important to get several quotes to compare before making a final decision. Fortunately, most car insurance companies make it easy to get quotes online. 

Is it better to pay car insurance monthly or every six months? 

You may receive some extra savings if you can pay your six-month total policy premium in advance. Many auto insurance companies offer a discount for paying the premium upfront. That discount is, on average, around 9%. However, if you don’t have the funds to pay in full or prefer not to, most insurers also offer monthly billing for an installment payment service fee of $3 to $5 per payment. 

Before you decide how to pay for your auto insurance policy, consider all the variables. For example, if your auto insurance rate is $879 and you decide to pay monthly, you will forego the 9% paid-in-full discount and will pay the installment payment service fee on each payment. 

Here is what it looks like if you pay in full: 

  • Premium: $879 
  • Paid-in-full discount: $79 

Total six-month cost: $800 

Here is what it looks like if you pay monthly: 

  • Premium: $879 
  • Installment fees: $24 

Total six-month cost: $903 

On average, you can save around $103 every six months by paying your policy in advance. 

Though a six-month car insurance policy is the norm, it isn’t your only option. You might wonder if an annual policy is better. 

It can be. If you have a pristine driving record and qualify for a low premium, you may want to lock in that rate for an entire year. The downside is that if you can find cheaper insurance elsewhere, you are stuck with your current policy. 

Another benefit of an annual policy is that it’s easier to factor into your budget. You know your payment will be the same every month for at least the following year. If you can pay the entire premium in full, that’s one bill you don’t have to think about for a whole year and one payment due date you aren’t at risk of forgetting. Not to mention, you could save as much as 20% on your premium. 

The verdict 

A six-month policy is the most common car insurance option. It can be the best deal for you, providing you with options to shop around for cheaper car insurance, negotiate for a lower rate and apply for driver discounts. However, it doesn’t hurt to consider a longer policy, which can provide you with one payment you can forget about for a year until renewal. Before settling on a policy, decide the advantages and disadvantages of a six-month policy and your needs, including your budget, driving record and coverage limits.  

Laura Longero

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Laura Longero

Executive Editor

Laura is an award-winning editor with experience in content and communications covering auto insurance and personal finance. She has written for several media outlets, including the USA Today Network. She most recently worked in the public sector for the Nevada Department of Transportation.

John McCormick

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John McCormick

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John is the editorial director for CarInsurance.com, Insurance.com and Insure.com. Before joining QuinStreet, John was a deputy editor at The Wall Street Journal and had been an editor and reporter at a number of other media outlets where he covered insurance, personal finance, and technology.

Leslie Kasperowicz

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Leslie Kasperowicz

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Leslie Kasperowicz is an insurance educator and content creation professional with nearly two decades of experience first directly in the insurance industry at Farmers Insurance and then as a writer, researcher, and educator for insurance shoppers writing for sites like ExpertInsuranceReviews.com and InsuranceHotline.com and managing content, now at CarInsurance.com.

Nupur Gambhir

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Nupur Gambhir

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Nupur Gambhir is a content editor and licensed life, health, and disability insurance expert. She has extensive experience bringing brands to life and has built award-nominated campaigns for travel and tech. Her insurance expertise has been featured in Bloomberg News, Forbes Advisor, CNET, Fortune, Slate, Real Simple, Lifehacker, The Financial Gym, and the end-of-life planning service.

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Contributing Researcher

Katrina Raenell is a writer, editor and educator with 20 years of experience in content and communications for international organizations, nonprofits and start-ups. In her previous roles, she was a communications manager for study abroad, content project manager for higher education and finance websites, reported on arts and culture, and was a managing editor for an online health and wellness publication.