Auto Insurance Cancellation: Can I Get My Money Back?

June 12, 2013

Getting the balance of your premium returned depends on when and how you submit the cancellation request--and the circumstances behind the cancellation.

How you need to handle car insurance cancellation depends on whether it's you or the insurer who's terminating the policy. Let's look at each of the issues related to auto insurance cancellation: how to get insurance again, getting your money back, and more.

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Canceling Voluntarily
If you choose to cancel your insurance policy for any reason, then you should be entitled to a full refund of the remaining premium. There will be a deduction from the amount you paid, depending on how long you have been insured. If you have only been insured a short amount of time, then you will get a refund of most of your premium. For example, most premiums cover six months of insurance. If you paid $300 for six months and you cancel after 1month, then you will get approximately $250 as a refund. However, you should read your policy closely. There may be fees associated with early cancellations.

Contact Insurer in Writing
In order to cancel a policy, many insurers will require that you send them written notice. This is to cover them and to cover you in the case of any questions in the future. Most states require a driver to have auto insurance, and if you cancel the insurance and have no coverage, then you will be liable in the case of an accident. In order to cover themselves, the insurance company will want a written statement with your signature showing that you canceled coverage.

If you do cancel coverage, you need to have new insurance in place before you cancel your previous policy. In many states, you will be liable for a penalty and fee for any amount of time that you are not covered. It may take several days or even weeks to receive your policy refund.

Insurance Company Cancellation
There is s difference between you canceling your insurance and the car insurance company canceling your coverage. Insurance companies only take the step of canceling coverage during a term if you violate the terms of the insurance agreement in a some serious way.

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One of these ways is non-payment of premium. If this is the violation in your case, then you won't get any money back from the company, clearly. You can avoid cancellation for non-payment by setting up an automatic payment program or by simply paying your premium on time. Many insurance companies offer a grace period for established customers, but are less accommodating to new customers without a track record.

If your policy is canceled for other violations, the circumstances are different. These violations may include a DUI, too many tickets or too many accidents. If a company cancels your insurance due to these kinds of violations, they must send you written notice, and will give you a period of time to search for new coverage, although it may be a short time.

Even under these circumstances, the insurance company will send you a pro-rated refund based on the amount of time left on your policy. Again, this refund will take several weeks to arrive, so don't count on it as the means to pay your new premium.

Even if the insurance company cancels your car insurance, you are generally entitled to a refund of unused premium. The only exception is if your insurance agreement specifically states that there will be no refunds. You can expect this kind of provision if you have high points on your license, a high number of accidents or a poor payment record.

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How Do You Cancel Your Car Insurance Policy?

As long as you know what you need to do it's not a hassle. Here's what you need to know.

Find Other Insurance First
Before you consider cancelling your current policy you will need to set up a new policy. A lapse in coverage can end up costing you a lot of money in fines from the state, and can make it difficult to find insurance later on. Know what day you want your coverage to start with the new policy before you go any further.

Call Your Current Provider
Once you have a new policy set up you can call your current insurance carrier. Tell them what day the new policy takes effect and you can cancel your existing policy as of that day. If you cancel the policy first then find another insurance carrier you may end up having to pay fines and risk being cancelled by the new company later for having a lapse in coverage.

Waiting on Reimbursement
If you are cancelling a policy that has been paid in full before the term expires, you may get a refund from the insurance company. We stress "may" here. This will depend on the policies set forth by the insurance companies and what state laws are in place regarding paid premiums in your state. Most insurance companies will charge a fee for cancelling early, and this will come out of any paid premiums. This is usually equal to one month's worth of premiums.

Cancelling Car Insurance When Selling a Car

When selling a car in a private transaction, it is important to properly time when you cancel your car insurance. While the car is listed for sale and prospective buyers are test driving it, you must keep your insurance active. In most states it is illegal to have an uninsured vehicle on public roads. Once the terms of a sale have been determined, the timeline and steps are usually as follows:

  1. Decide upon a price, and draft a bill of sale.
  2. Exchange payment (be sure to receive certified funds) and sign the bill of sale in front of a notary public. Typically your local bank can act as a notary public.
  3. Sign over the title to the new buyer and have it notarized as well.
  4. Fill out any other additional paperwork that might be required by your DMV.
  5. If possible, fill out, sign and notarize a "Release of Liability" form. These can also be found on some DMV websites or available on various document library websites.
  6. Cancel your insurance and be sure that the new owner adds the vehicle to their insurance policy.

For additional information, consult your state's DMV website. Typically a detailed step by step list outlining the car selling process will be available with links to applicable forms.

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When Should You Cancel Your Car Insurance Policy?

You can cancel a car insurance policy whenever you wish. It's not always a good idea though. Here are some examples of when cancelling a car insurance policy is a good thing to do.

Finding Better Rates
If you find a better rate on your insurance and want to switch, then you should cancel your insurance policy. There are a few things here that need to be done though. First make sure the new coverage takes affect before the old policy is cancelled. You need to be covered 24 hours a day. When you find a new policy pay attention to when it starts. In many cases they will tell you the coverage starts at 12:00 midnight on a specific day. You can then take that date and tell your current insurance company this is the last day of coverage needed. Secondly it's best to wait until a policy is about to expire before switching to another insurer. If you cancel a policy part way through the policy period this may result in an early termination fee of some sort.

Before Your Policy Expires
If you are looking to cancel a policy because you don't want to renew it, it's best to let them know several weeks before the policy expires. You will also want to make sure your new coverage picks up right where the other policy ends. Using this buffer of several weeks allows you the peace of mind in knowing that your record will reflect to lapse in coverage.

Coverage Issues
Insurance companies have really gone out of their way to make sure they appear fair and just. There are many smear campaigns out there either by disgruntled policy holders or competition. Unfortunately sometimes you may run in to issues with your coverage. If you have had a bad experience and can't seem to get anything straightened out, or if the outcome wasn't fair in your mind, then it may be a good idea to find another insurance company to carry your auto policy. Bear in mind that you will need to set up the new policy first so you won't have any uninsured periods. You also want to wait until any litigation is settled with the current company if you are in the middle of a claim.

Temporary Holds
If you plan on traveling, or you have lost your job and can't make your premiums then you may be tempted to cancel your policy. In these cases, you can usually place a hold on your policy for up to a year. During this time you will be uninsured, so you cannot drive. But you won't have to worry about explaining a lapse in coverage and won't have to go through the hassle of finding another policy later when you are back from your travels or able to pay for the premiums again.

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How to Cancel Insurance on an Undrivable Vehicle

Some new drivers may be unsure about how to cancel insurance in a range of situations. If your vehicle is out of commission, paying attention to some basic considerations will help you successfully cancel insurance without liability.

  • Don't cancel without resolving claims. If your vehicle is un-drivable as a consequence of a collision, trying to cancel the insurance policy before the claim payout may complicate matters. Call and talk to a representative about how to put premium payments "on hold" or otherwise mitigate the costs while you are resolving the accident claim.
  • Make sure state notification is in place. If you are canceling insurance simply because the vehicle broke down, you'll need to communicate that to your insurer. Otherwise, you may run into problems. Some insurers may assume that you are driving the vehicle without insurance, and in some cases, they will notify your state DMV. You may get a written bill or notice in the mail about your vehicle's uninsured status. Inform your insurer upfront to avoid these kinds of situations.
  • Ask about prorated premiums. In many cases, your insurer will rebate you for the amount of time that you prepaid when you are canceling insurance before the end of its term.

How to Cancel Car Insurance after 14 Days

Most auto insurance companies let you cancel car insurance within 14 days of taking out the policy. This is commonly known as a "cooling off" period where you get grace to cancel any agreement before you become committed to it. Canceling your policy inside these 14 days imposes no charge, but if you choose to cancel after that time period you might find there are some penalties and barriers.

Check Your Details
Before you begin it is important that you read the entire policy document and find out if any penalties are imposed if you cancel it. They may include a penalty for canceling a car insurance policy within a certain period of time, but most companies will offer you a refund of any period which is unused or paid in advance. Policies vary widely so if you are unsure, call the carrier and ask what their exact policy is regarding cancellations. Other companies will just require written notice and impose no extra charge, but find out for sure about your own.

Call the Carrier
If you are canceling your insurance policy, consider the reasons. Are you unhappy with the service? Did you get an online quote with another company and found that you could get more for your money? Perhaps you called another company or agent and were offered a cheaper quote altogether. Whatever the reason, call your current company and tell them you are thinking of canceling your insurance. If the agent is worth their salt they may try to keep your business by offering you a lower rate, a discount or other benefits and start a mini price war between them and the new carrier.

Time Your Changes
You must not go through a moment without being covered, so make sure you talk to your carrier first and decide whether you can proceed forward with your contract to them or if you are going to change companies. If you decide to change companies, time it so that you change during a period where you will maximize your refund from the original carrier or minimize any penalty.

Write a Letter to Cancel Insurance
Put any cancellation in writing to your current agent or provider. Some states even require you to notify the DMV of any alterations in your insurance arrangements. Follow the correct procedure for your state and inform those necessary. In the letter, clearly state your name, address and policy number so that the company can correctly identify you and cancel your policy as requested.

Determine if Cancellation Is Necessary
There may be occasions when you absolutely need to cancel your policy. The reasons could vary from medical conditions that prevent you driving or having a spell without a vehicle, or even financial difficulties. Whatever the reasons for canceling, you should still observe the advice that has been offered and correctly cancel your policy with your carrier. For opting out of a shared car insurance policy you need to make sure that you do not owe any extra fees, so contact the company that administers the policy and get clear details of your responsibility.

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How to Get the Unearned Premium on Your Auto Insurance Policy

The unearned premium on an auto insurance policy is the proportion of the down payment for the total agreed term that covers you for the rest of the time left in the term. If you decide to cancel an insurance policy before the end of the agreed term, your insurance provider will owe you the unearned premium. You could want to cancel your insurance policy for any number of reasons, whether you're moving away or because you found a better deal with a different provider. No matter the reason why you want to get out of the policy you now hold, the process of getting back your unpaid premium is fairly simple.

Check for Cancellation Fees
Check your insurance policy to see if there are any cancellation fees. Many insurance providers will make you pay a fee to get out of your policy before the end of the term, and if this fee is higher than your unearned premium, it's not worth canceling.

Tell Your Provider that You Want to Cancel
If you have determined that it is still worth collecting your unearned premium even with the cancellation fee, alert your insurance provider that you want to cancel your policy. You can do this in person or by phone.

Wait for Your Money Back
Once you have told the provider that you want to cancel your policy, your unearned premium should be refunded. Depending on your provider, you will either have to wait for a check to come in the mail or get a direct transfer to your bank account.

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Related Questions and Answers

Can I Get My Money Back If I Cancel My Insurance Early?

In almost all circumstances, a person should be able to get a refund on their insurance policy if they cancel it. Cancelling for any reason is permitted under most policies, but you should read the through the entire policy to make sure that is the case. Policies often have an early cancellation fee, so check your policy. The refund will be pro-rated for the amount of time you have been insured. If the insurance company cancels your policy for any reason, such as missed payments or fraudulent claims, you will not be eligible for a refund. Insurance companies often require cancellations to be done in writing.

Do You Get a Refund on Car Insurance if You Sell Your Car?

The majority of car insurance policies allow refunds for cancelled policies. After selling the vehicle being insured, simply contact the insurance company and request a refund on the balance of your policy. Insurance companies often require cancellation requests to be in writing. As long as the premiums have been paid on time, the insurance company should issue a refund that is pro-rated for the time remaining on the policy. There are often early cancellation fees, so read the policy in full and ask questions about anything you don't understand. If the insurance company cancels your policy due to non-payment or fraudulent claims, you will not be entitled to a refund.

When You Cancel Car Insurance Do You Tell Them If Your Car Was Repossessed?

Repossession is not a fun activity to get involved in, especially when it is your own car being repossessed, but you should cancel car insurance if your car is repossessed. For the most part, automotive insurance companies do not require that they are informed of a vehicle repossession. Everything depends on what is stated in your automotive insurance policy. Double check your policy prior to canceling your automotive insurance so you do not break any terms of the contract, which could prevent you from getting some money back upon cancellation. If a car insurance company needs notification of a repossession, you should provide it in writing.

Can I Cancel My Car Insuarnce If I Sell My Car?

It is possible to cancel car insurance for a vehicle that you decide to sell. The only catch here is that any lapse in automotive coverage from one car to the next can create a truckload of problems for you in terms of tickets and fines from the state where the car is registered. It is illegal to drive on the roads of the United States without any automotive insurance, no matter the type of policy, but this can be prevented. If you plan on canceling the policy on a car you are selling and opening one up on a new car, make sure the new one is active before the old one is canceled.

Can I Cancel My Car Insurance Policy Without Having Another Policy Ready?

You are able to cancel car insurance policies without having another policy ready, but you might not want to drive the vehicle during that time. You will put your license and financial worth at risk when driving in between insurance policies because if you are caught, you will be subject to thousands of dollars in fines and the possibility of a license suspension. Should you decide to cancel your current automotive policy, make sure you have a replacement policy in place to protect your license status and wallet. Approval and payment in full will need to be secured prior to activating the new policy and canceling the old one.

Can I Cancel My Auto Insurance at Any Time?

For the most part, you are legally allowed to cancel auto insurance policies at any time during the life of the policy. Automotive insurance companies will ask for certain items during the cancellation process. Those items include notice of cancellation, the return of the original policy, and sometimes you will have to sign a policy release. A policy release lets the automotive insurance company know you are no longer on their policy and it helps serve notice to your new policy provider that you are no longer insured by another company. Canceling an automotive insurance policy might come with penalties, which could come in the form of a small fee.

Will I Need an SR-22 If My Current Insurance Cancels My Policy?

SR22 insurance filing forms are required by the Department of Motor Vehicles to reinstate a driver's license after the license has been suspended. You will need an SR-22 form should your current insurance policy be canceled but you will need to purchase the minimum amount of liability insurance first. These forms are issued by automotive insurance companies, only by their licensed representatives or agents. SR-22 forms can be used for driver's who have had their license suspended, been charged with a DUI, reckless driving, hit and run, wet-reckless or driving over 100 MPH. Other reasons for an SR-22 include causing an accident with no liability insurance or being issued too many moving violations by police officers.

How Long Is My Car Insured for If I Cancel My Policy

Once you file a cancellation form with your current automotive insurance company and all of the paperwork is processed, your vehicle will no longer be insured. This means that you cannot drive the vehicle on the roads of the United States, unless you are willing to pay hundreds to thousands of dollars in fines and possibly have your license suspended. If you cancel your policy, make sure you have a new one lined up and ready for activation so you are not stuck in one spot for more than one day.

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