What Is an Insurance Policy Period?

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All car insurance policies have a defined policy period, which is the time during which the policy is effective. The start date and end date are the cutoff dates on your documentation, payments, and coverage unless you renew the policy. It’s important to know what your policy period is so you know when your car insurance ends. That way you can renew in time to keep your coverage intact.

How a Policy Period Is Determined

Your policy period is determined by the day your policy starts, which can be any day of the month. A policy does not automatically start at the beginning of the calendar year or month. You choose the date at the time of purchase. If you don’t have any insurance at the time of purchase, set the start date on or before you plan to start driving, so you don't get caught driving without insurance.

Policy Period Length

The length of a policy period can vary per insurance carrier. A large portion of carriers only offers six-month policy periods. Some carriers offer a yearlong policy period and some even offer a month-to-month policy period. Month-to-month policies are rare and are often reserved for high-risk drivers. The policy period will be listed on most of your documents, but you can also ask your car insurance agent what it is.

Payment Due Date Determination

A major function of a policy period is that it dictates your payment due date. If you pay in full, the start of your policy period will be when your payment is due. If you pay monthly, your payment will be due on the same day of the month as your original policy start date.

For instance, if you begin your policy on the 5th of June, your monthly payments will be due on the 5th of each month. If you pay your premium in full, your next payment will be due at the end of the policy period, which will also be on the 5th of the month. All payments will be based on the date the policy is started unless other special arrangements are made.

Where to Find Policy Period Dates

Policy period dates can be located in a couple of different places. Check your proof of insurance: The policy period is always listed. It can also be found on the declaration page or you can call your insurance agent or customer service representative.

What Happens When a Policy Period Ends

When a policy period ends, your policy is up for renewal. You can either continue your policy and renew, or switch to a new insurance carrier. That is unless your policy is being non-renewed. Then you'll need to look for a new insurance carrier whether you want to or not. Most drivers won’t have to worry about this outcome, though. Unless you are a very poor driver with a very poor track record, most insurance companies will be eager to keep your business.

It is always a good idea to know your policy period dates, so you know when your payment is due. They also let you know when to start shopping for a cheaper rate if you plan on switching at the end of the policy period.