Having car insurance is essential for anyone who drives. Not only does it provide protection for you and your car, but it is also legally required in most states. If you stop paying your premiums or let your coverage lapse, there can be serious consequences. 

It can result in fines, higher premiums and even the loss of your driver’s license or registration. In most states, if you are caught driving without car insurance, you will be charged fines and other penalties. Learn more about these penalties and how much your insurance rates will go up after a lapse in coverage before you decide to drive without insurance. 

What happens if your car insurance lapses?

If your car insurance lapses for any reason, the state may take away your driving privileges and fine you to reinstate them, even if you weren’t caught driving. That’s because if you have a vehicle registered under your name, the state assumes you’re driving it. And in every state but New Hampshire, driving without minimum liability insurance is against the law.

One out of every eight drivers doesn’t carry insurance, according to the Insurance Research Council. 

Uninsured drivers have become such a costly problem — states are increasingly using electronic reporting systems to find out directly from insurers when a vehicle owner is past due on their bill. If that happens, you may not be charged with the crime of driving while uninsured, which can carry steep penalties. But in nearly every state you will have your registration, driver’s license, or both, revoked and then be charged a fine. 

The DMV fees listed below are only for those portions of the costs and do not include criminal fines, court fees or other costs associated with driving without insurance. 

Below are the fees charged by the DMV when a registered vehicle owner’s insurance has lapsed.

DMV/RMV Insurance Lapse Fees by State
State DMV/RMV Insurance Lapse Fees
Alabama$200 for the first suspension, $400 for second and subsequent suspensions
AlaskaLicense reinstatement fee of $100 for one action and $250 for two actions for non-DUI related offense
ArizonaLicense reinstatement fee of $25 for drivers age 39 and younger
ArkansasIndividual must pay a $150 reinstatement fee
CaliforniaLicense reinstatement fee of $14
ColoradoReinstatement fee of $95
ConnecticutReinstatement fee of $175
DelawareA fee of $50 must be paid to reinstate a suspended license. A $200 fee is charged to reinstate a revoked license
District of Columbia$150 fee for any insurance lapse from 1-30 days, and $7 per day for each day after 30, up to a $2,500 maximum
FloridaReinstatement fee of up to $500
Georgia$25 for any lapse of coverage while the vehicle is actively registered, Up to $160 in addition to the $25 fine if the lapse of coverage fine is not paid within 30 days
Hawaii$500 to $5,000
IdahoOwners will need to provide proof of insurance and pay a fee of $75
IllinoisReinstatement fee of $100
Indiana$500 for the second offense
IowaDependent on if an accident occurred
KansasFine of not less than $300 nor more than $1,000
Kentuckyregistration reinstatement fee of $40
LouisianaFine of not more than $500
MaineFine of not less than $100 and not more than $500
Maryland$150 for the first 30 days, $7 for each day thereafter and a registration restoration fee of up to $25
Massachusetts$100 fee to reinstate your driver’s license, right to operate, and/or vehicle registration
MichiganThe reinstatement fee is $125. Depending on your situation, you may owe multiple reinstatement fees
MinnesotaLicense and a registration reinstatement fee of $30
Mississippi$1,000 for failing to maintain insurance coverage and a suspension of driving privileges for one year
MissouriLicense reinstatement fee of $20 after the first suspension, $200 after the second suspension and $400 after the third suspension
MontanaThe penalty for a no-insurance citation is between $250 and $500 or up to 10 days in jail for a first offense
NebraskaReinstatement fee of $50
NevadaA fine of $250 for a 31 to 90 days lapse, $500 for 31 to 90 days, and $750 and SR-22 for a 91-180 days lapse in insurance coverage
New HampshireInsurance not typically required
New JerseyRestoration fee of $100
New MexicoRegistration reinstatement fee of $30
New YorkIf your insurance lapse is 25 days, you may pay a civil penalty of $200 ($8 per day for 25 days)
North CarolinaCivil penalty of $50 for the first lapse, $100 for the second lapse. If you have more than two lapses, your civil penalty will be $150
North DakotaReinstatement fee of $50
OhioAt least $150 reinstatement fees
OklahomaStatutory fees in the amount of $300
OregonLicense and a registration reinstatement fee of $75
Pennsylvania$94 restoration fee to restore your driver’s license. A minimum of $300 fine for driving uninsured
Rhode IslandRegistration reinstatement fees of $252.50
South Carolina$400 to reinstate your driving and registration privileges if you’re unable to verify having insurance coverage
South Dakota30 days imprisonment in county jail or a $100 fine or both
TennesseeFine of not more than $300
Texas$260 (first offense), $470 (subsequent offenses)
Utah$400 for a first offense and $1,000 for a second and subsequent offense 
VermontUp to $500
Virginia$600 statutory fee
WashingtonFine of $550 or more
West VirginiaLicense reinstatement fee of $50
Wisconsin$10 fine for drivers who fail to show proof of insurance at the time of the stop/accident. $500 fine for using an uninsured vehicle 
Wyoming$250 to $750  for a first offense and $500 to $1,500 for subsequent offenses

Can I keep my license plates and car registration during an insurance lapse?

To avoid these penalties, always turn in your license plates and cancel your registration if you plan to let your car insurance lapse. Better yet, contact your insurer, who is likely to work to keep good customers. Insurers are supposed to give you a 30-day advance notice before cancelling your policy.

“If you miss a payment, the important thing to do is get in contact with them right away,” says Bob Passmore, executive vice president and chief legal officer of the Property Casualty Insurance Association of America. “So, you’ll get a lot of opportunities to make it right.”

Is there a grace period for car insurance?

Most car insurance companies offer a grace period for missed insurance payments, so if you’re a few days late, it should be fine. However, you should pay the premiums as soon as possible, as the grace period can vary by insurer. 

How much will my rate go up if I have an insurance lapse?

A lapse in coverage for a week increases your insurance rates by 11% or about $226 a year. A 30-day lapse will hike your car insurance rate by an average of 14%, or about $269 a year. A 45-day lapse gets you a 22% increase, about $439 more a year, based on a 2022 data analysis by CarInsurance.com.

If you still want to suspend coverage, keep in mind that even if you follow the law and submit your plates, you still may be charged more for insurance after you’ve had a lapse of, say, more than 30 days. Insurers say their statistical models show that drivers who haven’t carried steady, uninterrupted insurance coverage tend to file more claims, and so cost the insurance company more.

Some insurance companies won’t even take customers who can’t show six months of prior coverage, forcing drivers to shop from high-risk providers for as much as double the price. 

“If you’re in that situation, there are a lot of companies that specialize in high-risk drivers,” says Passmore. “Shop around. They might only charge more for six months.

That said, some states don’t allow insurers to charge more if a lapse was due to overseas military service, hospitalization or job loss.

Here is how much more you will pay for car insurance in 2022, on average, if your insurance lapses for 45 days:

Average rate difference if your insurance rates lapse for 45 days
StateAverage RateAfter 45 days Lapse% Increase$Increase
Alabama$1,580$1,93923%$359
Alaska$1,286$1,59524%$309
Arizona$1,719$2,25131%$531
Arkansas$1,652$2,10928%$456
California$2,207$2,2070%$0
Colorado$2,125$2,65125%$526
Connecticut$1,529$2,23646%$708
Washington, D.C.$1,909$2,26018%$351
Delaware$1,791$2,14320%$352
Florida$2,981$3,93432%$953
Georgia$1,710$2,16627%$455
Hawaii$1,309$1,60923%$300
Idaho$1,082$1,31121%$229
Illinois$1,559$2,00128%$441
Indiana$1,363$1,72427%$361
Iowa$1,241$1,60029%$359
Kansas$1,557$1,82217%$265
Kentucky$2,086$2,61926%$532
Louisiana$3,126$3,3878%$261
Maine$1,068$1,31223%$243
Maryland$2,172$2,77028%$599
Massachusetts$1,776$2,14521%$370
Michigan$3,915$4,98527%$1,070
Minnesota$1,768$2,17223%$405
Mississippi$1,535$1,82919%$294
Missouri$2,669$3,46330%$795
Montana$1,709$2,11724%$408
Nebraska$1,926$2,0667%$140
Nevada$2,427$2,98023%$553
New Hampshire$1,023$1,21519%$191
New Jersey$2,232$3,22344%$991
New Mexico$1,657$2,03523%$379
New York$1,822$1,8974%$75
North Carolina$1,442$1,69918%$257
North Dakota$1,357$1,56015%$202
Ohio$1,136$1,35319%$217
Oklahoma$1,968$2,45325%$484
Oregon$1,484$1,97433%$490
Pennsylvania$1,508$1,82021%$311
Rhode Island$1,923$2,37724%$454
South Carolina$1,804$2,30128%$497
South Dakota$1,585$1,84516%$260
Tennessee$1,360$1,64921%$290
Texas$2,036$2,71633%$680
Utah$1,629$2,02524%$397
Vermont$1,195$1,36014%$165
Virginia$1,319$1,85641%$536
Washington$1,500$1,73416%$234
West Virginia$1,474$1,67113%$196
Wisconsin$1,818$2,22522%$407
Wyoming$1,880$2,14114%$261

How do you buy car insurance after an insurance lapse?

Despite the challenges of buying car insurance after an interruption in coverage, it’s still wise to research rates. Each insurance company assesses risk differently, so even if you have a lapsed policy, you can still find a lower rate by doing a car insurance comparison. For instance, some insurers specialize in high-risk driver policies so that you may get a more affordable price from one of those carriers.

If you are changing your driving situation – you will still be driving frequently but won’t have your own car – consider getting a non-owners car insurance policy to avoid a lapse in coverage.

Non-owner car insurance is often used by high-risk drivers who are required to buy a liability policy to keep a driver’s license. But it is also used by drivers who don’t own cars and rent frequently or are trying to keep continuous coverage.

A non-owner policy will generally cost much less than an owner’s policy. The average cost of a non-owners policy is $380, according to a 2022 CarInsurance.com data study. The low rate is because insurance company risk is lower than that of a car owner who drives on a daily basis.

The premium amount is, however, dependent upon normal rating factors, such as your driving record and where you live so you could pay much more than that.

Resources & Methodology

Sources:

  1. Kelly Blue Book. “Penalties for Driving Without Car Insurance by State.” Accessed January 2023. 
  2. Progressive. “What happens if my car insurance lapses?” Accessed January 2023.
  3. Insurance Research Council. “One in Eight Drivers Uninsured.” Accessed January 2023.

Methodology:

CarInsurance.com commissioned Quadrant Information Institute in 2022 to field rates for drivers across the nation after 45 days of lapse in insurance coverage for a full coverage policy with limits of 100/300/100. The rates are based on the profile of a 40-year-old single male driving a 2021 Honda LX.