Look into state laws that might protect you against a rate hike, and shop for coverage through an independent insurance agent. By Jessica L. Anderson, Associate Editor August 16, 2012 Going even one day without auto insurance coverage can lead to higher rates. After 30 days, you’re deemed to have “no prior insurance,” which can sometimes cause rates to skyrocket to twice as much as you paid before. DOWNLOAD: The Kip Tips iPad App Don’t accept higher rates lying down, says Jim Fults, vice-president of product management for Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co. Many states have laws to protect certain groups against rate increases if they have a lapse in coverage -- for example, if you’re in the military and stationed overseas, or you have been in the hospital for an extended period. Whether you fall into such a protected group or simply gave up driving while living in the big city or abroad, your best bet is to shop for a policy through an independent insurance agent. Internet quote services, such as InsWeb.com, don’t give you a place to explain a lapse, so they pull computer-generated rates that just note that you had one. You can find an independent agent. Advertisement If you get stuck paying higher rates, it should be for six months, tops. After that, carriers should give you credit for previous insurance -- and the discounts that go with it -- so shop around again when it’s time to renew. This article first appeared in Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine. For more help with your personal finances and investments, please subscribe to the magazine. It might be the best investment you ever make.