Lapse Ratio

What is 'Lapse Ratio'

The number of policies that are that are not renewed compared to the number of policies that were active at the beginning of that same period. The lapse ratio represents the percentage of policies that were not renewed, and thus have lapsed in coverage. Lapsed policies are not the same as canceled policies.


Insurance companies strive to have their policyholders consistently renew their policies since policy renewals mean continued earnings. If an insurer sent renewal notices to 1000 current automobile insurance policy holders and 700 of those policies are renewed, the lapse ratio is (1000-700)/(1000), or 30%. The lapse ratio considered acceptable to an insurance company can vary by type of policy, geography, as well as other factors.

There are several reasons why an insurance company looks at its lapse ratio. One of the primary pieces of information that the lapse ratio can convey is how competitive the policy rates are relative to other insurance companies. If a new insurance company offers better rates this could lead to more policyholders switching to the less expensive option. Consumer-centric insurance policies, such as those covering automobiles or homes, may have higher lapse ratios because policyholders are more willing to shop around for better rates; businesses with commercial insurance may be less likely to frequently change their policies.

Companies can reduce their lapse ratio by offering more competitive rates, by ensuring that policyholders are aware of their lapse date by sending frequent reminders, and by appealing to personal sentiment. For example, an insurance company whose rates are higher than those of its competitors may appeal to the number of years the individual has held the policy in order to appeal to feelings of loyalty. Larger insurance companies are more likely to have substantial marketing budgets that they can dip into in order make their offerings and benefits known.