What Is an Insurance Grace Period?
The insurance grace period is the time you have to pay your premium after the due date, before the insurer cancels your policy. This gives you a fair chance to pay your bill when circumstances beyond your control delay your payment.
Learn how waiting periods work and what happens if your insurance premium is late.
What is an insurance grace period?
An insurance waiting period is the amount of time after your payment is due that the insurer will allow the premium to be collected while maintaining your coverage. If you don't pay by the end of the grace period, your insurer may collect the penalties or cancel your coverage.
An insurance waiting period is not the same as an insurance waiting period, which is the amount of time you must wait after you sign up and pay for a policy before your coverage takes effect.
Waiting periods vary by insurance type and company, and not all insurers have waiting periods. Your policy will define if there is a grace period, how long it is, what penalties come with it, and whether a claim will be paid if payment is received within the grace period.
Insurance waiting periods also vary by state. Some states do not require a waiting period and allow the insurer to cancel your coverage if you do not pay by the expiration date.
Ask your insurance agent or contact your state insurance commissioner's office for the details of your policy type.
How does the insurance waiting period work?
Generally, you will continue to have coverage during the grace period until you pay your premium.
If you do not pay your premium by the end of the grace period, your coverage will be terminated. If your policy has a grace period, it can be 24 hours or 30 days.
Companies can offer a single defined grace period with standard penalties that apply to all. They can also offer a short grace period with no late fees and an extended grace period that includes a late fee.
Because grace periods ensure that even if you pay late, your coverage will remain intact, you can still file a claim should the need arise. If you don't have a waiting period or you miss the deadline, your insurer can cancel your policy as soon as your payment is late, in which case you would not be covered for a claim even if your payment arrives the next day.
Make sure you know if your policy contains an insurance grace period and how long it is to avoid putting your coverage at risk.
Types of insurance grace periods
You may be offered a waiting period for many types of insurance policies, including:
- Life insurance
- Home insurance
- Car insurance
- Health plan
Always check your policy for information on a grace period before you need to use it. The duration can vary, even between insurance plans offered by the same company.
Grace Periods for COBRA Health Insurance
If you have COBRA health insurance, your insurer must give you a 30-day grace period for premium payment. However, your provider has the option to cancel your coverage during that period and then reinstate it retroactively to the payment due date if you pay the premium within the grace period. If you don't pay your premium within the grace period, you may lose all COBRA rights.
Grace Periods for the Affordable Care Act
Under the Affordable Care Act, your health insurance can offer a grace period of up to 90 days if you:
- Have a market plan
- Qualify for Advance Premium Tax Credit Payments
- Have made at least one payment during the benefit year.
If you don't qualify for premium tax credit advance payments, your grace period may be different.
Are There Any Penalties?
If you miss the due date and submit your payment during the grace period, you may have to pay a late fee. If you miss expiration dates regularly, your insurer may charge you higher premiums when you renew your policy.
If you do not pay within the grace period, your insurance coverage may be canceled for non-payment. Loss of coverage can cause a variety of problems, such as:
- Pay out of pocket in case of loss or accident
- Other insurers that refuse to cover you based on their underwriting guidelines
- The rate increases when you apply for a new policy
Losing coverage can quickly get expensive. For example, if you let your homeowners insurance coverage expire, you will not only be responsible for covering the cost of the damages yourself.
The business may refuse to insure the home until the repairs are completed. If your mortgage requires proof of insurance, your only option may be an expensive high-risk property policy.
In the case of a life insurance policy, the loss of coverage generally means that a new medical examination must be performed before being approved for a new policy. If your health has changed, you risk being denied coverage or forced to pay higher premiums.
Penalties for Affordable Care Act Health Insurance
If you have Marketplace health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, your grace period will remain in effect, even if you pay subsequent premiums on time.
For example, if you have a 90-day grace period and don't pay your August health insurance premium, then pay September and October but don't pay August yet, your coverage will end at the end of October.
You would retroactively lose your coverage until the last day of August and you may be required to reimburse any payments your health insurer made in September and October.
Alternatives to Insurance Grace Periods
Waiting periods can be helpful, but becoming dependent on yours can leave you without insurance coverage or increase your interest rate more than you can afford.
Finding out that you need to use your grace period more often may mean that you have to make changes to your insurance policy:
- If the due date of your current payment does not match your payday schedule, you can ask your insurance agent to change it.
- If you frequently forget to pay your premium, set up automatic payments via direct deposit or credit card.
- If you can no longer pay your monthly premium, talk to your agent about cheaper coverage.
These changes can help you avoid using your grace period every month.
Enjoy Watching This Video About Insurances
Source: FOX 61
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