Buying a car is an important milestone in a lot of people’s life. It represents freedom, independence, and is considered by many one of life’s necessities.
Your car adds value in so many ways, which makes protecting it equally as important as driving it. You would never drive your car without a door, a rear-view mirror, or brakes. So why would you ever take the chance of driving around without insurance?
In almost every USA state, it is legally required for drivers to meet minimum insurance requirements. Basic coverage generally covers the costs if you cause a car accident that injures someone else or damages their property.
However, most drivers see the value of car insurance and understand its importance. Therefore, they are willing to invest a little more for a comprehensive policy to protect themselves, others, and their vehicle against the elements. More comprehensive car insurance policies may cover things like the costs incurred if your car is stolen, in an accident, or damaged by the elements (e.g., hail and falling objects).
It is important to keep an eye on your car insurance policy to ensure that it does not lapse. The consequences of driving uninsured make you vulnerable and may lead to personal and financial devastation.
Let’s step through some of the critical information you need to know about your car insurance and talk about ways of minimizing the risk of driving around uninsured.
About your policy start date
Your car insurance policy is determined by the day your policy starts. A policy can start on any day of the month and does not necessarily have to start at the beginning of the calendar month. You choose the start date at the time of purchase.
If you are not insured at the time you purchase your car, you can arrange for the policy to commence on or before you plan to start driving. This way, you don’t get caught driving without insurance.
Policy period options
The length of a policy period varies per insurance provider. Car insurance policies typically last 6 or 12 months. However, some policies are set up on a month-to-month option. This option is rarely available and is usually only an avenue take by high-risk drivers.
People identified as high-risk drivers usually don’t qualify for a policy with preferred insurance providers. Therefore, they may be required to pay significantly higher premiums. High-risk drivers may include people who have:
- Auto-related offenses that resulted in a death or serious injury,
- A DUI/DWI conviction, or
- Multiple traffic violations that equate to more than six points.
Month-by-month policies put the driver at greater risk of driving around with an expired policy. Therefore, it is essential for high-risk policyholders to take greater due diligence to prevent this from happening.
The best way to find out what date and time your policy expires is to check the policy period. This information is available on your car insurance declarations page. The declarations page is usually found at the front of your car insurance policy paperwork. If unable to find your policy period, speak to your car insurance representative as a priority.
The Declarations Page explained
The declarations page is a document that forms part of your insurance policy. It is available at the front of your policy and summarizes the key details of your car insurance. Some key information available on your policy’s declarations page includes:
- The car insurance policy number
- Start and expiration dates and times
- The policyholder’s name and address
- The company name, address, and contact information of the insurance provider
- The policy premium and fees
- Vehicle information such as the vehicle’s year, make, and model
- Coverage type (e.g., comprehensive, collision, etc.)
- Coverage information
When you renew your car insurance policy, you will receive a new declarations page with updated information to reflect any changes to your policy.
Ways to make sure your insurance does not lapse
When you think about all the times you have forgotten a loved one’s birthday or a major anniversary it is easy to understand how you could forget the exact date a time that your car insurance policy expires.
It is important to take proactive steps to prevent driving around uninsured. Here are some tips for implementing in the week leading up to your policy expiration date:
- Set up a calendar reminder on your mobile phone
- Add a reminder to your wall calendar (if you have one)
- Put your car insurance declarations page on your fridge door
- Put a post-it reminder somewhere highly visible in your car and where you keep your car keys.
By taking one of or all of these steps, you are less likely to drive around uninsured. However, the most proactive step you can take is to contact your car insurance provider and renew your car insurance policy for another 6 or 12 months – whichever is more suitable and within your budget.
When it comes to your car insurance policy, you are the one in the driver’s seat. Take control of it by checking your policy’s declarations page and ensuring you know the exact date and time your insurance will expire.
And remember, when it comes to car insurance, if you can’t afford it, you can’t afford to drive. Car insurance is mandatory and non-negotiable. Letting your insurance lapse has the potential to cost you a lot more in the long-term.