How to pay your car insurance payments

Each company is unique, but you can almost always pay in full, pay by quarter, or pay by month. Most companies accept credit cards, debit cards, and payments by check.

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Paying your car insurance bill is important. Not only is car insurance mandatory in almost every state, but there are serious consequences for not paying your bill. 

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If you go too long without paying, your policy could be canceled, leaving you uninsured and causing a gap in your car insurance coverage. If you’re caught driving without active insurance you could face fines or have your license suspended. Making your insurance payments on time is the best way to avoid these problems.

Luckily, insurance companies offer a variety of payment options for their customers.

Key takeaways

  • The average cost of car insurance for a 35-year-old driver is $1,654.

  • If you go too long without paying, your policy could be canceled, leaving you uninsured and causing a lapse in your car insurance coverage.

  • You can often choose from a variety of payment options, including paying in full, paying per quarter, and paying monthly.

  • Insurance companies typically allow payments by check, debit card, and credit card.

How often should I pay my car insurance?

The average annual insurance rate for a 35-year-old driver is $1,654, which is a large amount of money to come up with for a single yearly payment. 

Most insurance companies have three ways to break down your car insurance payment:

Pay in full

Drivers who have the full amount of their car insurance premium available can pay their bill with a single payment. If you choose to pay your policy in full, drivers with a policy that covers six months will pay twice a year while drivers with an annual policy will only pay once a year.

There are some benefits that come with paying your policy in full: 

  1. Avoiding cancellation: Paying your policy in full means you are safe from being canceled for nonpayment. Even the most organized of us can misplace an invoice from time to time, which can be a dangerous situation if it leads to an unpaid auto insurance bill.

  2. Avoiding fees: Breaking down your payment into smaller parts usually comes with a small fee. The fewer payments you make, the more money you can save over the course of your insurance policy.

  3. Receiving fewer bills: If you are the kind of person who has a pile of mail on the counter that never seems to get any smaller, paying your balance in full can help minimize the number of bills you receive in the mail.

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Pay by quarter

For drivers who don’t want to pay their insurance premium in full at the start of the policy term, most insurance companies allow you to break the payment down by quarter. This means you would pay one bill every three months instead of making one large payment at the beginning of your policy.

A six month policy doesn’t easily break down into four periods, so insurance companies often allow drivers with a six month policy to make two payments instead of one. This effectively divides the year into quarterly payments with a policy renewal in the middle.

Pay by month

Drivers who prefer to make monthly payments can do so with almost every insurance company. This allows you to make smaller payments, but each payment typically comes with a fee, making the amount you pay higher overall than by paying in full.

Some insurance companies have a slightly altered version of the pay by month plan. For example, they may break a six month policy down into four payments, leaving you two months at the end of your policy where no payment is due. Each company has their own internal payment systems, so check with your insurance company to see what your options are when it comes to breaking down your premium payments.

Check vs. credit card

No matter how many payments you are making, the easiest ways to pay for your insurance are with a check or a credit card. 

Drivers who pay their monthly bill through the mail can either write a check or include their credit card information on their payment slip. Those who pay by phone or online can also pay by check or credit card, but instead of writing a physical check you would just enter your check information into the payment system.

There are some benefits to paying by check, including:

  • Companies aren’t charged a fee to process checks the way they are with credit cards, and some companies pass that benefit directly back to the customer with a reduced fee for paying by check.

  • The money comes directly out of your checking account, making it easier for some people to avoid overspending.

  • Checks only allow you to spend money you have, which means they don’t accrue interest over time the way a credit card does if you don’t pay off the balance.

  • You can use your debit card to pay your bill and have your payment come directly out of your checking account.

There are some benefits to paying by credit card, including:

  • If you pay your credit card bill on time every month, paying for your insurance with a credit card allows you to build your credit score.

  • If you earn rewards points or other bonuses with your credit card, paying your car insurance with your card is an easy way to earn a lot of points.

  • Credit cards provide protection against fraud and other issues. For example, if you write a check and accidentally pay too much or your payment gets intercepted by a thief, that money is automatically taken out of your account and you have to fight to get it back. If the theft or overpayment happens with a credit card it is still a hassle to correct it, but your bank account is left untouched while you sort out the problem.

Can I pay my car insurance bill in cash?

No, most insurance companies no longer take cash payments. If you have an insurance agent you work with directly you can ask if they will let you come in to make a cash payment in person, but the odds are good you will need to pay by check or credit card.

Under no circumstances should you send cash in the mail to pay your insurance premium. Most insurance payments that are sent by mail go to a payment processing center and may not even be touched by human hands. Unlike a check or a credit card payment, cash can’t be tracked, which means you will have no proof you sent in your payment if it isn’t received.

Paying by app

Many insurance companies now have apps for your phone that allow you to manage your policy. You can access your insurance cards, file a claim, or submit a customer service request through most insurance apps, making them a useful tool for people who have a smartphone. Most of the insurance apps also allow you to make a payment, which can be a convenient way to pay your bill.

Autopay

If you choose not to pay your bill in full, autopay can help you make sure your payments are made on time. Whether you choose to use autopay through your bank to mail out monthly checks or to sign up for autopay through the insurance company’s billing system, autopay can be a handy tool to make sure you aren’t in danger of cancellation due to nonpayment.

Frequently asked questions

What are the payment options for GEICO?

GEICO lets customers pay their bill in one to six installments, depending on the policy. They also allow payments to be made by check, debit card, credit card, or EFT. This can change over time, so GEICO customers should check with the company directly to determine the best way to pay for their insurance.

Can I pay my bill over the phone?

Many car insurance companies offer the option of paying your bill through an automated system over the phone 24 hours a day, and some even allow you to speak to a customer service representative to make a payment if you call during their business hours. Each company is different, however, so check with your insurance company to see if they allow phone payments.

Can paying your car insurance help your credit?

Typically, paying your car insurance premium on time won’t improve your credit rating. While there is no direct connection between your credit score and your insurance payment, failing to pay your insurance could get you sent to collections which can bring down your credit score. However, paying your insurance with a credit card can help you build credit if you pay your credit card bill on time each month.

Methodology

Policygenius has analyzed car insurance rates provided by Quadrant Information Services for every ZIP code in all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C. 

For full coverage policies, the following coverage limits were used:

  • Bodily injury liability: 50/100

  • Property damage liability: $50,000

  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist: 50/100

  • Comprehensive: $500 deductible

  • Collision: $500 deductible

In some cases, additional coverages were added where required by the state or insurer.

Rates for overall average rate, rates by ZIP code, and cheapest companies determined using averages for single drivers age 30, 35, and 45. Our sample vehicle was a 2017 Toyota Camry LE driven 10,000 miles per year.

Rates for driving violations and “poor” credit were determined using average rates for a single male 30-year-old driver with a credit score under 578.

Some carriers may be represented by affiliates or subsidiaries. Rates provided are a sample of insurance costs. Your actual quotes may differ.