Maryland’s insurance regulator is warning consumers against renewing their health insurance policies early. Doing so could mean you lose out on new protections required under the Affordable Care Act that fully kicks in Jan. 1.

According to the Maryland Insurance Administration, consumers who buy health insurance directly from an insurer or an HMO may get a letter telling them to renew earlier than their regular renewal date. The reason, the regulator said, is that policies renewed before January don’t have to have new consumer protections required under the health care law, such as coverage for pre-existing conditions. (Only when you renew again next year will those policies have to contain those protections, the regulator said.)

Another reason not to renew early: You might have to start all over again to meet the deductible before insurance starts paying for your care, the insurance administration said.

And insurance companies wonder why they get such a bad rap.

The insurance administration reminds people that they don’t have to renew their policies before the termination date.