This article clears up a big assumption about when you can switch car insurance. By reading this article, you’ll get an idea of how car insurance policies work, clear up the assumption you have to wait to switch, see examples and a typical process for switching.
How car insurance policies work
When you take out a car insurance policy, it’s for either 6 months or 12 months, depending on which option the company offers. As far I know, there is no law (at least in Ohio) that states you MUST wait until that period of time has passed to get different car insurance.
The car insurance policy is yours and as the insured you get the right to make decisions about that policy, including cancelling it on a specific date.
Once your 6 or 12 months is over, the next 6 or 12 month period is called your renewal. Yes, many people wait until renewal, but you are NOT required to.
So if you can switch at any time why do so many people choose not to?
Many people wrongly assume that if they switch at a time other than renewal, the premium they’ve paid ahead will not be refunded to them. That is completely false. Car insurance is always paid ahead- even on a monthly payment option you’re always paying for the next month. If you cancel your car insurance mid-policy term, then the money that’s been paid ahead is called “unearned” premium and is required to be refunded. It’s called unearned premium because the insurance company hasn’t “earned” the right to use it.
Two examples to show you how to switch car insurance at any time
- You have a 6 month auto policy that runs April 1- October 1. You make the switch from Company X to Company Y effective July 1. You paid the full 6 month premium in advance. The prior company would refund the premium for July 1-October 1.
- Same 6 month auto policy with same dates, but you’re paying by the month. You’ve paid July 1-August 1 already, so the insurance company will refund that month’s premium.
I should note that some insurance companies charge a cancellation fee, so it’s important to ask if that will happen in your case.
One other thing to note: no matter your payment method (EFT, online portal, credit card, or you send a check), 99% of the time your refund will come by check.
What’s the typical process to switch car insurance?
I can’t speak for how others handle mid-policy switches, but here’s how we usually handle it.
- Potential customer accepts our proposal(s) and wants to switch.
- We complete a standard cancellation form that the customer signs. Please note: the form requires we list current insurance company name, policy number and effective dates.
- We send the form(s) to the current agent for cancellation.
This is a nice option that is quick, easy and painless.
Sometimes the customer wants to contact the prior agent to cancel, which is certainly fine too. As long as the prior policy gets cancelled, it makes little difference whether we do it or the customer does. We offer the standard cancellation form as a service to make the process easy.