How to Cancel a Car Insurance Policy [Step-by-Step Guide 2022]

You can cancel your car insurance coverage at any time, though additional fines and fees may apply. The best way to cancel your car insurance policy is by calling your insurance provider. Follow this guide to cancel your car insurance policy and find new car insurance online.

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UPDATED: Jun 22, 2022

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Written By: Laura BerryReviewed By: Joel OhmanUPDATED: Jun 22, 2022Fact Checked

Here's what you need to know...

  • Avoid canceling your policy in a way that leaves you open to risk or negative repercussions
  • There are several ways you can cancel car insurance coverage, but the best way to start is to call your current provider
  • You have the right to cancel auto insurance coverage at any time, but there may be fees or penalties

Yes, you can cancel your car insurance at any time. But if you drive, you need car insurance. It provides financial protection that you shouldn’t be without, and it’s required by nearly every state. So if you’re caught without it, you’ll be in serious legal trouble.

Many people don’t know because they’re used to their auto insurance policy renewing for six-12 months at a time. You can cancel your auto insurance any time. Associated fees generally center around services already rendered. In short, if you cancel halfway through the month, your insurance would have some flexibility to charge you up to a reasonable point.

There are several reasons you may want to cancel coverage, but be careful to do it the right way to avoid a lapse in coverage or harm to your credit.

Compare car insurance quotes using our free tool above! You might find a new insurer that is just right for you.

Be sure to follow the tips below to make sure you cancel insurance in a way that doesn’t leave you at risk.

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How can you cancel your auto insurance with no hassle?

If you’ve ever wondered, can I cancel my insurance my insurance at any time? The answer is yes. You have the right to cancel your insurance at any time, but make sure you don’t leave yourself with a headache by not thinking things through. Follow these tips for things to avoid.

#1 – Don’t Cancel Until You Have New Coverage

If you’re thinking about canceling your current car insurance policy, the most important thing to remember is that if you still need insurance, make sure you have your new coverage in place before the cancelation date of your old coverage. Your insurance history will follow you making it harder to get the best rates in the future if there’s a lapse in coverage.

This is made even worse if you’re in an accident or have to file a claim for any reason during the lapse period. You could be stuck paying for any damages out of pocket on top of the higher rates you’ll pay for new coverage. Any time you apply for a new policy, insurers will ask about your previous insurer and if you have any lapses in coverage.

If you pick a start date from your new insurer, make sure you make your cancelation date for your old insurer on the same day.

If your plan is to stop carrying insurance altogether, make sure you don’t plan to drive, and if you do, look into a short-term car insurance policy.

#2 – Don’t Just Stop Paying and Hope for the Best

There are several reasons why you should avoid payment stoppage alone.

  • If you have set up automatic payments, your payments will just continue.
  • If you stop paying, it could hurt your credit.
  • In the future, you may want to return to the company you stopped paying. That action will look bad on your record no matter where you go.

If you simply stop paying, your carrier will cancel your coverage as opposed to you being the one who makes the cancelation. There are stricter rules about when insurers can cancel your policy. When they do get to that point, the repercussions can be much more serious.

Communication is important, and it’s in your best interest to communicate your intentions with your current insurance company so you can cancel your policy in a way that won’t hurt you in the future.

#3 – Don’t Cancel Coverage before You Research

If you do a quote comparison, you may find a car insurance company that is significantly cheaper than your current insurer. Before you cancel your current policy, make sure the company you’re considering switching to is reputable.

The price of your premiums is a big deal, but it’s just one component of your policy. Investigate your potential new insurance carrier before you decide to use them for your insurance needs.

Check their financial rating through A.M. Best, an independent company that rates insurers financial standing and outlook. If the company you’re considering has a poor grade, that could indicate an inability to pay insurance claims and probability of going out of business.

Besides looking into the financial health, investigate the customer satisfaction of any company you consider. If customers are generally unhappy, your chance of being unhappy with how they deal with you is higher.

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What should you know when canceling your auto insurance?

Before you cancel your coverage, you need to find or request your policy so you can read the “conditions” section. The information found here will help you decide how to proceed.

Different insurers have different policies:

  • If your policy charges a cancellation fee, you may wish to wait until your renewal date to cancel, especially if that date is close.
  • Some policies will offer a full refund for the premium paid and not used. For example, if there are 30 days in the month, and you cancel on the 15th, they will refund you 50 percent of your premium.
  • Some policies will refund your unused premium minus a percentage. If you cancel halfway through the month, they will refund 10 percent less than 50 percent of your premium. In cases like that, you may want to wait until the end of the coverage period, especially if you pay monthly and you don’t have to wait long.

Once you’ve decided when the best time to cancel your policy is, then you need to schedule the stop date for that time.

#1 – Call Your Insurer

Calling your insurance company is your best option for how to proceed. In fact, most major insurers’, like Progressive’s, and State Farm’s, websites instruct clients to call if they want to cancel.

Likely, they will send you a form or instruct you to request cancelation in writing.

When you talk to an agent, they will probably offer to re-evaluate your policy and check for additional discounts

#2 – Visit Your Agent

Similar to calling your agent, visiting your agent will usually include an offer to review your policy and look for ways to save money on your premium.

The benefit of visiting your agent is that you will likely be able to accomplish your goal of canceling in one setting.

You will likely be able to sign the paperwork necessary to cancel your policy right there in the office.

#3 – Fill out a Form from the Company You’re Switching To

Sometimes, the company that you’re switching your coverage to will offer a cancelation form that you can mail to your current provider. Your current insurance provider may offer their own cancelation form online

#4 – Send a Form Letter

There are several websites where you can download form letters for canceling car insurance. If you’d rather not contact your current insurer, this option allows you to cancel without personal contact. You can also learn how to write a car insurance cancellation letter here too.

This method is not recommended as without personal contact, you may miss a key step in a company’s cancellation process.

4 Scenarios for Canceling Car Insurance

How you go about canceling coverage depends on when you purchased it.

#1 – When You Purchase Coverage and Immediately Decide It Was the Wrong Choice

You are certainly able to cancel coverage at any time, but purchasing and canceling in quick succession should be avoided. You’ll get no benefit, and likely you’ll face penalty fees. Before you purchase coverage, make sure that’s what you want to do.

#2 – When You Sell a Vehicle

How you sell a vehicle will determine what steps you should take to cancel insurance on that vehicle.

  • If you are trading a vehicle in for another vehicle, simply call your insurer and let them direct your steps to make sure your coverage transfer is seamless. If you trade a car in and buy over the weekend, normally, your current policy will cover your new vehicle for a few days.
  • If you are selling a vehicle independently, immediately upon completion of the sale, call your insurer and tell them you want to cancel coverage on that vehicle because you no longer own it. You may need to fill out a release of liability form when with your bill of sale

It’s important to remember that as long as the vehicle is titled in your name, you need to carry insurance on it. Once the title has been transferred, you are safe to cancel coverage.

#3 – When You Decide to Switch Carriers

As was mentioned earlier, be very careful with your cancelation date. Make sure your new insurance will be in force on the day you cancel your previous insurance.

The best way to proceed with canceling one carrier and switching to another is to call your current carrier and let them know you want to cancel. They can then instruct you on how to proceed.

#4 – When You Decide You No Longer Need Auto Insurance

Make sure you really don’t need coverage. Will you no longer have a vehicle registered in your name?

If you will no longer own a vehicle and have your transportation needs figured out in a way that doesn’t require you to drive, you don’t need insurance anymore.

You can handle canceling coverage, for this reason, the same way you would if you were switching providers. Call your insurance company and let them know you’re canceling coverage and they can inform you of the information or paperwork they need to cancel your policy.

Canceling car insurance is a simple process. Doing it right isn’t difficult. You just need to think through your circumstances and protect yourself from situations like a lapse in coverage.

Have you done a car insurance quote comparison recently?

Before you make any decisions about canceling coverage, use our free tool below to compare premiums and policies and see how much money you could save by canceling your current coverage and switching to a new provider.

Can I cancel car insurance at any time?

  • It is common for policyholders to wait until they receive their renewal invoice to decide whether or not they really would like to renew
  •  Your insurance form must be licensed by the state Department of Insurance to do business in the state where your vehicle is registered
  • You will need to take time to learn about an insurer’s early termination policies and procedures before you buy

When you are approaching your car insurance renewal, you are free to start shopping for coverage to find the best deals.

It is actually most common for policyholders to wait until they receive their renewal invoice and documentation to decide whether or not they really would like to shop the market for better premiums.

About 30 to 45 days before a term expires, the insurance company will begin to underwrite your policy and determine your new rates. This is why the new declarations will be sent for your review.

Typically, you have plenty of time to compare rates before you commit to continuing your policy for another 6 months or another year.

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What are the rules surrounding a voluntary cancellation?

As a driver, you are obligated to purchase insurance and maintain continuous cover, but the state will not tell you who you must buy your insurance from.

The only real stipulation you must comply with is that the carrier you purchase your insurance from must be licensed by the state Department of Insurance to do business in the state where your vehicle is registered.

While it is allowed, canceling mid-term can create unexpected complications.

The rules surrounding cancellations apply differently to carriers and policyholders. As a policyholder, you are allowed to cancel your insurance at any time.

If you were to look at your declaration’s page, you will find a policy period or term. This is how long your current policy provides you with coverage and also how long your rates are locked in.

If you have paid in full, this is also how long that you will have coverage before you will be billed again.

Are there penalties for mid-term cancellations?

Even though there is a policy period, you technically can cancel at any time but may be required to pay a penalty. In some situations, penalties for early terminations may be waived because you no longer how a need for insurance.

You will need to take the time to learn about an insurers early termination policies and procedures to decide if they are fair and just.

Learning about the penalties an insurer charges before you switch the company can actually make you think again.

Here are the two different types of cancellation that are used in the insurance industry:

Pro-rated Cancellations

A pro-rated cancellation is the best option for the policyholder because the company will calculated the unearned premium and then return any refund to you without subtracting any type of fee or penalty.

Some states do require that their insurers return all unearned premiums to their clients, but others will allow fees to be charged.

Even in states where fees or penalties are allowed, there are insurers dedicated to pro-rating refunds in an effort to keep their customers satisfied.

Short-rated Cancellations

When an insurer offers a short-rate refund for terminating your policy before the renewal date, you are entitled to only a portion of your unearned premiums.

How the fees or penalties are charged will depend upon the policies in the state and the policies of the company.

The company may charge you a flat fee for canceling or a percentage of the unused premiums. If the policy is near the end of its term, it is possible that the penalty will be waived.

What to consider before an early termination?

You should set aside some time to review your state’s rules regarding voluntary cancellation and cancellation fees.

Companies are not legally allowed to cancel their policyholder’s insurance for just any reason, so some state officials have decided that penalties are justified since the company has projected that they will earn all of the premium quoted.

Other states frown upon the idea of charging customers a fee to cancel something they are already being mandated to carry.

This is why you should review the rules with the Department of Insurance and by reviewing a policy booklet.

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What are some scenarios where fees may be waived?

Sometimes, companies will be willing to cancel your insurance without charging a fee when you no longer have a need for coverage.

If you have surrendered your driving privilege, sold your car and will not replace it, are moving out of state, are being deployed overseas, or the named insured has passed away, any reputable company will consider waiving the fees.

This is something that you should discuss directly with a company representative before you submit your request.

Just be aware that you will not be able to request a fee waiver if you are transferring to another carrier by choice.

What’s the most convenient way to switch insurers?

Canceling your insurance does not have to be a difficult task. It is much more involved when you decide to cancel mid-term because you must deal with both a new carrier and with your current carrier to complete your transaction.

If you are really unhappy with the company that you have and you do not want to wait months for your renewal, it is possible to switch without all of the hassle.

Here is the most convenient way that you can go about changing carriers even though your renewal is not up:

Step 1: Review Your Declarations Page

Your declaration’s page shows you all of the details about your current policy. Review this form to look for coverage limits and gaps.

This will help you as you comparison shop and may even help you identify vulnerabilities.

Step 2: Compare Rates with Competitors

Shopping around is the most effective way to save money. When you are shopping around, you should match the same coverage limits and options so that you can get an accurate picture of which insurer has low rates.

Step 3: Make the Switch

Fill out the application, select an effective date and start your coverage.

Step 4: Cancel Your Policy

Some carriers will cancel your other policy for you.  If this is not an option, be sure to submit your request as soon as possible.

The best way to comparison shop is to shop online.

Use an online rating tool that gives you instant quotes that you can review and compare from your own home.

Start comparing car insurance rates now by entering your zip code in our FREE tool below!

Can you cancel your car insurance before it starts?

You can cancel car insurance before it starts, but you may face cancelation fees. If you want to cancel car insurance before it starts, you should have a new policy in place.

  • You can cancel your insurance at any time
  • There may be fees associated with canceling
  • There are penalties for having a lapse in your insurance

Can you cancel an insurance policy before it starts? With insurance, you are not locked into a long-term contract. Insurance companies allow you to cancel your car insurance at any time.

Before you cancel your insurance it is best to check your insurance company’s policy on cancellation. There may be penalties or administrative fees associated canceling your policy before your renewal.

Other than that, your insurance company owes you any unearned premium at the time of your cancellation.

It is best to check with your company to find out how long it will take for you to receive a refund if you are owed any.

If you also want to check on the best auto insurance rates, start comparison shopping by entering your zip code above!

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What are the reasons for cancelling your insurance?

Life happens and there are many reasons why you might need to cancel your insurance before your renewal.

Reasons can include the following:

You’re getting rid of a car

Whether it’s your only car or one of multiple, you definitely don’t want to keep insurance on a car that you are getting rid of.

Talk to your insurance company about the best way to go about removing coverage from your vehicle.

If you are simply exchanging your old car for a new one, it’s best to keep insurance on the old car until you put insurance on the new one to avoid insurance lapses.

Your car broke down or is in the shop

 It is tempting to want to remove coverage from your car if it is temporarily not working.

Unfortunately, the lapse in coverage could have consequences later.

Your insurance company may have options for you that allow you to pay a smaller bill but still keep basic coverage until your car is back on the road.

Your car is seasonal

Many people have seasonal cars that are only driven for some or part of the year.

Many insurance companies have special options for seasonal vehicles so that you are not paying a big bill while you are not driving them but you also avoid having a lapse in coverage.

Found cheaper insurance elsewhere

It’s always best to give your current insurer the chance to match a cheaper quote.

In the case that they can’t, be sure that you purchase the new insurance before you cancel with your current provider.

Purchasing new insurance before canceling ensures that there are no lapses in coverage for you.

Your new job is paying for your insurance

You may be one of those rare folks whose job has taken over the insurance payments for you!

This is definitely a rare occurrence, but if this is the case you can always cancel your current insurance for a refund.

If you are ever back in the market for insurance, there are some companies who may not penalize you for your lapse as long as you have some sort of proof that your insurance was covered by your company.

Should you have insurance in place before you cancel?

You should never be with car insurance on the road. If you are going to cancel your current car insurance, you need to have new insurance in place first.

There are many consequences to having a lapse in your insurance coverage, such as:

Tickets and Fines

There are tickets and fines for driving uninsured, no matter how long of a gap it is.

In the case of an accident or getting pulled over, you are required to show proof of insurance. If you are unable to provide proof of insurance, you will be issued a ticket.

According to your state’s laws, you may even have fines or fees for driving uninsured.

It is not only risky to drive uninsured, it’s also expensive!

High Premiums in the Future

A lapse in auto insurance makes you a high risk to insurance companies.

Since insurance rates are based on risk factors, this would mean that you could be paying higher auto insurance premiums in the future.

When you get behind the wheel of a car without insurance, you run the risk of getting into an auto accident with no way to pay for it.

No insurance means that more money comes out of the pockets of insurance companies, thus the high-risk factor.

Should you think well before you cancel?

While you are never locked into your insurance company, canceling your coverage is serious business.

You should always discuss cancellation policies with your insurance company so that there are no surprises.

You should always think of your options and the consequences before you cancel your insurance policy to make the best possible decision.

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Can I cancel my car insurance early?

  • It is possible to cancel an insurance policy early
  • In some cases, the insurance company may choose to penalize you by charging a processing fee
  • Before you cancel your insurance, shop around to ensure you can find better coverage and customer service elsewhere

If you are unhappy with the service you received from your auto insurance agent or you are not impressed with your carrier’s departmental procedures when you file a car insurance claim, it is not unusual to think about canceling your policy.

Before you jump at the opportunity to pick up the phone and cut the ties to your carrier by terminating your policy, think about the consequences.

Canceling your policy before the time is right can lead to fees, fines, and even more serious penalties.

When you buy car insurance, you are entering into a contract.

The carrier must fulfill its duties in the contract to provide coverage until the expiration date as long as you fulfill your obligation to make regular payments.

While the insurer is obligated to provide coverage until the policy is scheduled for renewal, you are not obligated to keep your policy active.

You have the right to cancel your coverage for a multitude of different reasons.

Before you decide that canceling early is the right move, there are some important things to consider.

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What is your reason for canceling your policy early?

There are legitimate reasons to cancel a policy early and then there are hasty reasons.

It is only natural to jump to a quick decision when you are upset with a claims decision or with a rate hike, but before you pick up a pen and put your request in writing, you should be sure that you either have no need for coverage or you have a replacement plan in force.

You must think about the real reason why you are requesting termination before your term expires.

Some of the reasons you can cancel a policy early without suffering negative consequences include:

  • You no longer own a vehicle and have transferred ownership legally to another party
  • You have moved out of the state or the country and have insurance from a new carrier
  • You are no longer a licensed driver
  • Your vehicle is no longer operable and no longer registered
  • You have purchased insurance with a new carrier and want to eliminate duplicate coverage
  • You recently married and added your vehicle to your spouse’s insurance

Why should you think twice about canceling early?

If you are going to be out of state temporarily and you would like to keep your discounts, there is an option to suspend your coverage instead of canceling early.

You can also suspend everything but your comprehensive coverage so that the car is still protected while it is in storage.

If you suspend your coverage, you will keep your loyalty discounts and your continuous insurance discounts that you would have lost if you had a lapse.

You should also think twice before canceling your policy just because your rates have gone up.

If you recently filed a claim or you have a blemished record, it might be difficult to find a carrier that will give you better rates or that will accept the risk.

Instead of rushing to assumptions and canceling your insurance, comparison shop and see if there are better options first.

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What should you know about your refund?

If you have paid your premiums in advance, it is important that you educate yourself on the refund policies of the carrier before you assume that you will get all of your unused premiums back.

Some states require insurers to give their clients a pro-rated refund, but others will permit insurers to charge a fee before the refund is issued.

Here are the questions that you should ask the carrier before canceling your policy to save money ends up costing you more than you would be saving:

Will I receive a prorated refund?

If you pay monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually, you will be entitled to a refund of your premiums that you have not used.

If you get a pro-rated refund from the insurer, the company will send you a check for the entire portion of the policy that you have not used. The more amount of time that you have until your next payment, the larger your refund.

Is there a penalty or charge for canceling early?

Many companies have penalties for canceling contracts early. State departments of insurance allow these penalties because it costs money in administration fees to cancel policies before they are up for renewal.

The penalty can range from company to company, but many times it can be a fixed fee or a percentage of the premiums that have been unused. Asking your insurer about the penalty is best if you are canceling to save.

When will I receive my refund?

It is your right to get your refund in a reasonable amount of time. Most companies will send a check to you within two to three weeks after the cancellation is processed.

It can be helpful to check and see if the request was received and processed five to seven days after it was sent to avoid delays.

How to cancel your insurance policy?

Traditionally, all insurers would require that their policyholders put their request in writing when they want an early termination.

This requirement would protect them if the individual claimed that they did not request the cancellation and they needed to file a claim.

It is possible to cancel policies by phone and email. Some auto insurance companies may even allow you to cancel your policy by logging into their online system.

If you would prefer to put your request in writing, here is the information that your request should include:

  • Name, policy number, date
  • Effective date of the cancellation
  • Reason for cancellation
  • Signature

It is in your best interest to notify your insurer that you want to cancel your policy early.

If you fail to notify the company, you may pay for coverage through the grace period or have a blemish on your record because of a non-payment.

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Can I cancel my car insurance if I pay monthly?

  • You can cancel your current car insurance policy if you pay monthly
  • There are certain steps you must follow if you plan to switch car insurance carriers and policy while avoiding a gap in coverage
  • You can locate a new policy with help from a car insurance comparison tool

If you have found a new, cheaper car insurance policy via a comparison tool, you may be wondering if you can cancel your current policy if you pay monthly.

The short answer is yes. You can absolutely cancel your current car insurance policy and purchase your new policy, but you need to make sure you do it in the correct order.

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Why do drivers cancel their car insurance policies?

Drivers cancel their car insurance policies and switch insurance carriers for a variety of reasons.

The top reason is often listed as saving money on their monthly premium costs. In addition, you may want a car insurance company with better customer service and lower rates.

In addition, your current policy is no longer offered by your insurance carrier.

Finally, you need more or less car insurance due to a change in your personal circumstances.

Why should you avoid a gap in coverage?

When you switch car insurance companies or cancel your policy, you want to make sure that you avoid having a gap in your insurance coverage.

A gap in insurance coverage is defined as owning a vehicle with a current registration and plates but not having a car insurance policy.

Many states, like New York, will outline the consequences of intentionally or unintentionally creating a gap in your insurance coverage.

When you have a gap in your car insurance, you can be declared a high-risk driver.

If you are caught driving without insurance or get into an accident without car insurance, you could be subjected to fines and legal penalties that you cannot afford.

Can you cancel your car insurance policy without purchasing a new policy?

If you just want to cancel your current car insurance policy and not switch carriers, you must turn in your plates and registration to your local DMV if you are not selling your car.

This proves to the DMV that you are not going to drive your vehicle and that you do not need insurance for a vehicle you are not driving.

Once you turn in your plates, you will need to store your vehicle in a storage unit or a private garage. You will not be able to park it in a parking lot or on the street.

If the police drive by and see your car with no plates, it could be towed.

If you decide to go this route, you should understand that it could be vastly more expensive to re-establish your registration plates and a new insurance policy than it would be to purchase a car insurance policy that meets the state minimum.

If you are considering going this route, use a comparison tool to quickly check the rates of the cheapest insurance policy that meet your state’s minimum requirements.

How to successfully switch car insurance carriers?

In order to successfully cancel your current policy and switch to a new carrier, you will need to follow these steps so that you do not accidentally cause a gap in your insurance coverage.

Even an unintentional gap could result in your being declared a high-risk driver and subjected to exorbitantly high insurance rates in the future.

  • Call your current insurance provider – It is important that you start the process by calling your current insurance carrier and asking them if there are any penalties or fees associated with canceling your car insurance policy before the end of your current term. While your carrier cannot stop you from canceling, they can charge you an early termination fee.
  • Search for a new insurance policy – Use a comparison tool to find a new car insurance policy that meets your current needs and is offered at a price you can afford.
  • Read the details – Read the details and fine print for each policy that you are considering purchasing. Make sure to read the coverage amounts, listed exclusions, and deductibles, if applicable.
  • Purchase the new policy – Before you cancel your old policy, you will have to purchase your new policy. Thankfully, this can be accomplished online very quickly. After you finalize the purchase, print the associated materials and temporary cards.
  • Determine when your new policy takes place – Your new policy has to be active before you cancel your old policy. You can determine the start date by reviewing your paperwork, looking at your new online account information or by calling the new insurance company.
  • Cancel your old policy – Once your new policy is active, you can call your old insurance company and cancel the policy. Make sure to tell them you have found insurance with a new carrier.

You can successfully purchase a less expensive car insurance policy for your new or used vehicle by using a comparison tool if you pay your car insurance premiums monthly.

All you have to do is purchase and activate the new policy before canceling your old policy. You may even end up with better discounts and better customer service.

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Do you have to pay to cancel your car insurance?

  • If you operate a vehicle, you must have car insurance coverage
  • Not every reason is a good reason to cancel or switch your insurance mid-term
  • You have a new high-risk driver in the home that will make you ineligible for coverage

You are legally obligated to carry your insurance when you own a private passenger vehicle, but the state cannot say what licensed insurer you must do business with.

If you find that another carrier will offer you more competitive rates or you have a new driver in your home that might not qualify for coverage, switching insurers might be the only realistic option.

You may also need to cancel early in other scenarios that have nothing to do with underwriting or pricing.

If you have recently received your renewal documentation or something has come up that creates the need for revised insurance, you need to really contemplate if it is time to switch insurers for a better deal or a more comprehensive policy.

Before you decide that canceling is the right option, you should compare quotes and learn about your current carries cancellation policy.

Start comparing car insurance rates now by using our FREE tool above!

Do you really need to cancel your policy early?

Not every reason is a good reason to cancel or switch your insurance mid-term. Before you even start to prepare your cancellation request, you should determine whether or not your reasons are acceptable.

After all, when companies charge you a huge fee to try and prevent you from canceling, switching insurers in an effort to save money could actually cost you money in the long run.

Here are some of the best reasons that you should cancel your insurance before the end of term even when fees are charged:

  • You are getting divorced and must separate your policies
  • You are getting married and are combining insurance for multi-car discounts
  • You have a new high-risk driver in the home that will make you ineligible for coverage
  • You have surrendered your driving privilege and will not own a vehicle
  • You have sold your vehicle and have no intentions of owning one in the near future
  • You have moved out of state or out of the country
  • You buy a new luxury or turbocharged vehicle that the insurer will not insure

What if you want to cancel because of service or price?

If you would like to cancel your policy mid-term because the premiums are high or because you received poor service from your agent, you really need to weigh the pros and cons.

Some policyholders are willing to take the hit with the cancellation fee just to go with a new carrier that is dedicated to providing quality service.

Other policyholders want to save money and are purely goal-oriented in every decision that they make.

If price is your primary motivating factor in making the move, you will need to compare the cost savings and the charge for early termination to make your final decision.

Even when you pay a higher premium with a carrier, in some cases it will still be more cost effective to wait until your renewal to avoid the fee and make the switch.

How much will you pay for a mid-term cancellation?

If you are wondering how much you will pay for choosing to cancel your coverage, there is not one specific answer.

The cancellation policies and fees vary from insurer to insurer and also from state to state.

All insurers must comply with the laws that are handed down by the Department of Insurance, but they are not required to charge a fee if they are in a state where they are allowed.

What types of refunds are there?

All insurers either offer a prorated refund or a short-rated refund. How the refund is calculated will show you if your company is charging you more for canceling.

If you do not know what each type of refund is, here is a brief explanation:

Pro-rate Cancellation

A pro-rate cancellation, which is referred to as a prorated refund, is the process of canceling a policy and returning all of the unearned premiums to the named insured.

The refund is calculated proportionately based on how long your paid premiums will carry you through and when you are canceling.

If you receive a prorated refund, this essentially means that the carrier did not charge you any type of fee or penalize you in any type of way.

Short-rate Cancellation

A short-rate cancellation is when the insurer will calculate the unearned premiums and then they will assess a fee or penalty. The amount and way that the fee is charged will depend on the company and the laws in the state.

Some companies might charge you a percentage of the premiums that you have not yet used or paid.

Other companies may review how much time is left on the policy and then charge you a fixed fee based on the remainder of time that is left.

This is the process that you must look out for when you are contemplating cancellation or when you are switching to another carrier and trying to avoid the situation in the future.

How can you tell if fees are assessed?

Doing your homework in advance can really make a difference. If you want to make conscious decisions about your insurance, you should review each company’s cancellation policy as you shop.

If you are already with a carrier, you should get your policy booklet out and review the terms of the coverage immediately.

In this booklet, it will detail whether you will receive all of your unearned premiums or just a portion of these premiums after a charge.

It might sound odd to say that you have to pay your insurer just to cancel your coverage, but this could very well happen in some scenarios.

There might be insurers that will waive fees when you have no need for insurance, but you will need to prove your situation when this happens.

Enter your zip code and start comparing car insurance rates now by using our FREE tool below!

How to easily cancel coverage for car insurance?

  • There are several reasons you may need to cancel your existing car insurance coverage
  • If you are in a situation where you still need auto insurance, be sure your new policy is in place before you cancel your old one
  • Using an online rate comparison tool is an excellent way to get started finding the best rates available for your car insurance needs

When you need to cancel your car insurance coverage, there are steps you must take to ensure the company doesn’t continue to bill you. Part of a good, solid car insurance policy is having clearly defined instructions as to how to cancel your coverage.

There are many reasons why you may want or need to cancel your coverage. Understanding how to do it, will save you time, money, and ensure that your policy isn’t canceled until you are ready.

Before canceling your auto insurance coverage be sure that you have your new auto insurance policy in place already. Enter your ZIP code in to compare quotes from different companies and find the best car insurance rates!

Why you may want to cancel car insurance coverage?

Canceling car insurance coverage isn’t necessarily a negative thing. There are several reasons to cancel a policy.

  1. The first reason you may want to cancel your policy is to switch to another car insurance policy. About every six months, check to see if you are still getting a good deal. If you find a better policy, you will need to cancel your current policy.
  2. Another reason to cancel a policy is because you aren’t happy with your current company. If your current company doesn’t handle a claim properly, won’t give you a discount you think you are entitled to, or changes your rate for no apparent reason, you may want to cancel your policy and find one with another company.
  3. A third reason to cancel is because your driving or living situation has changed.
    1. If you will not longer be driving, you won’t need a policy anymore.
    2. If you get married and will be joining another policy, you will need to cancel your current policy.
    3. If you move to another state, your will need to cancel your policy, if your current company doesn’t have coverage in that state.
  4. Another reason you may need to cancel a policy is because you have received a ticket or a violation. This can be due to too many accidents, speeding tickets, or receiving a DUI.

Many times the state will notify your insurance company if you are no longer able to carry a policy, but in some situations, it is your responsibility.

Notifying your car insurance company may entitle you to a refund while allowing only the state to notify your company may cause you to forfeit your refund.

Be sure to line up another form of car insurance coverage before canceling your current policy. Check out the FREE tool below to start comparing now!

How to Cancel a Car Insurance Policy

Canceling a policy is relatively easy. Though it varies somewhat from company to company, most companies allow you to cancel online or over the phone.

In order to cancel, you will need your policy number, the date you want cancellation to begin, and the reason you are canceling. Your cancellation can take place that same day or you can set it up to cancel on a date in the near future.

Canceling online can be done 24/7 while canceling over the phone may require you to call during certain hours, depending on the company.

Some states require notification of cancellation from the insurance company. This means that when you cancel your policy, the company will inform the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state that you no longer have coverage.

You will then have 30 days to get new coverage or to inform the DMV why you no longer carry coverage. If you do not do this, your license can be suspended or revoked. When canceling your policy be sure to find out if your state requires this or not.

Once you cancel your car insurance policy, your car insurance company will issue you a refund if necessary. Most companies require that you pay a month in advance so when you cancel your policy you will get a refund.

Be sure to have another company ready to start a new policy, if needed. You can set up your new policy to begin the same day you cancel your old policy. This way, you won’t have a lapse in coverage.

Finding a new company can be done online through a rate quote comparison tool. This type of tool allows you to put all your information into one spot and receive different rates and quotes from top car insurance companies.

These tools are free and run by third parties, so you don’t need to worry about company bias as with company-run websites. Once you receive the quotes, you can decide which company is the best fit for your car insurance needs.

Our online comparison tool can save you time and money. If you are canceling one policy and need another, click to start your search now. Simply enter your ZIP code into the FREE tool below!

What happens if you cancel your car insurance?

  • You are legally required to carry continuous insurance in states with mandatory insurance laws when your vehicle is registered to be operated
  • When an auto insurance policy cancels, the Department of Motor Vehicles is notified immediately through an electronic verification system
  • Failing to carry insurance on a vehicle you own can result in serious penalties and other consequences
  • Depending on the reason for cancellation, you may have to pay a short-rate fee for terminating your insurance contract early

It’s important that you know what happens when you cancel your auto insurance before you pick up the phone to process your request.

If you’re about to sell a vehicle, move to a new state, or switch coverage from one carrier to the next, you’ll have to eventually contact your insurer by phone or in writing to notify them that you won’t need coverage for much longer.

It’s important that you know what happens when you cancel your auto insurance before you pick up the phone to process your request.

Start comparing car insurance rates now by entering your zip code in our FREE tool above!

Should all car owners comply with auto insurance requirements in the state?

In most states, auto insurance is a requirement. In order to own a vehicle that is registered in a state with mandatory insurance laws or other types of financial responsibility laws, you’ll need to have continuously active car insurance.

If you’re not carrying auto insurance in the state that you live in and your car is registered in your name, you’re breaking the law and you could be convicted of a misdemeanor.

These laws are put in place to not only protect other drivers, property owners, and pedestrians but also to protect your finances so that you’re able to pay for the damages you’re liable for.

How is auto insurance coverage verified through the state?

Insurance departments have come up with new ways to verify coverage as quickly as possible.

Instead of relying on law enforcement to pull over every uninsured driver, many state officials now require departments to use electronic means to verify every driver have active coverage.

These electronic verification systems use a vehicle’s VIN and the information that’s reported by auto insurance carriers to try and tackle the uninsured motorist problem.

What happens if you cancel your coverage too early?

Since auto insurance can easily be canceled at the policyholder’s request, canceling your policy before you transfer ownership or before you activate a new plan can result in major issues.

This is the prime reason why it’s crucial that you know your responsibilities and the law before you go through with your cancellation request.

If you receive a letter from your Department of Motor Vehicles, you’ll be given a period of just 10-14 days to respond with proof that you still have insurance.

Here are some of the consequences and penalties that you might face:

  • Suspension of your registration
  • Suspension of your driver license
  • Reinstatement fees
  • Citations for driving uninsured or with suspended plates/license
  • Requirement to file an SR-22
  • Misdemeanor conviction if caught driving uninsured with fines
  • Increased rates through next carrier for lapses in auto coverage
  • Uncovered liability and physical damage losses

When to consider canceling your car insurance?

There are a few reasons that vehicle owners might want to consider canceling their coverage.

In some events, you won’t even need to worry about buying coverage again, but in others the dates and coverage matter.

It’s very important that you know how different scenarios require different approaches to cancellations.

Here are some examples that you should be fully aware of:

You’re Moving Out of State

Moving from one state to another creates some complications with car insurance. Some assume that they can change their address and they’re all set.

In actuality, each policy is written by insurers licensed in the state. Even if one company name matches, it’s a different company with a different NAIC number from state to state.

You’ll need to either start a new policy with your current carrier or open a new policy entirely with a new company.

Don’t actually cancel insurance from your old state until you have transferred your registration to your new state of residence or your old state may attempt to fine you.

You’re Selling the Only Car You Own

If you post your only car for sale, you don’t really have a need for coverage. Even with this said, you can’t really cancel coverage until an agreement has been made and the bill of sale is signed.

At that time, liability transfers to the buyer and you’re not the one who’s responsible for insuring the car in question.

You’re Not Driving the Vehicle

It’s tempting to jump at an opportunity to cancel coverage if you’re not driving, but that’s not a wise move all of the time. If the car’s still in your possession and it’s registered to be driven, you need minimum liability limits to comply with the law.

However, you’ve decided to turn in your plates and register your car as non-operable, you can keep it in storage and cancel coverage.

If you still want damage coverage on the car, you can keep your insurance active and only carry comprehensive coverage.

You’re Switching Auto Insurance Carriers

Switching can be the best way to save money when you believe you’re paying too much for coverage.

If you’ve found a new policy with much lower rates, don’t just cancel your policy.

Wait until the new policy is in place and then send in your request. Many experts even recommend waiting until the policy has fully been underwritten and issued so that you don’t see a sudden rise in your premiums.

Are there any fees for canceling auto insurance early?

If you’ve decided that it’s time to cancel coverage, you’ll need to read through the policy to see if you’re going to be charged a fee.

As a policyholder, you have the right cancel coverage at any time, but some states have also given insurers the right to charge for early terminations.

In the industry, the charge is called a short-rate fee and it’s either a fixed amount or a percentage of the unearned premiums.

What happens if no fee is charged?

If no fee is charged, then it’s referred to as a pro-rated cancellation and the entire amount of the premiums that you haven’t used will be returned to you.

You’ll need to advise the company where to send your refund check in your written request.

If you need insurance in a new state or you just want more affordable premiums, it’s time to shop around before jumping the gun to process a cancellation.

Start comparing car insurance rates now by using our FREE tool below!

What happens when your car insurance is cancelled?

  • A canceled policy is worse than a non-renewal of policy
  • Without insurance you are not legally allowed to drive
  • Cancellation of your policy puts you in a high-risk category
  • You may find it difficult to obtain other insurance after cancellation, but there are other options available

When a car insurance company decides to cancel your policy, it can pose as a major inconvenience to your everyday lifestyle.

It is important to be aware of the implications canceled car insurance may have on you and your family.

Find out the reasons why car insurance can be canceled and what to do if you ever find yourself in that situation. Compare rates now by using our FREE tool above!

What is a canceled policy?

There are two ways that insurance companies can drop you: non-renewal of policy and cancellation of policy.

Although non-renewal and cancellation are similar in nature due to the fact the company no longer will insure you, they are not one in the same.

Non-renewal is when your insurance company notifies you that your current coverage will continue until the end of the policy period, but will not be renewed thereafter.

This could be due to a number of reason such as filing multiple claims in a short period of time or simply because they don’t want to insure you anymore.

A canceled policy is a complete termination of your policy and carries much more severe consequences with it.

What are the reasons for cancellation?

During the first two months of insurance, called the binding period, the insurance company has the discretion to drop an insured for any reason. Although, this is not typical.

Beyond that time frame, the insurance company must have a very specific reason for canceling a policy. Each state also dictates the specifics of a company’s authority to cancel a policy.

Here are some of the most common reasons for cancellation:

  • Failing to pay insurance premiums
  • Falsifying information on your insurance application
  • A suspended or revoked license due to DUI or other offenses
  • Diagnosis of medical condition that impairs your ability to drive

How will cancellation of your insurance affect you?

One of the most daunting parts about a canceled insurance policy is that you are not legally allowed to drive without insurance.

Not being able to drive takes away your independence from driving yourself to work, the grocery store, or taking the kids to school and sporting activities.

If you get caught driving without insurance, you could face fines as well as possible jail time.

Not only is it limiting on your lifestyle, but it can also affect you in other ways. Cancellation of your policy will result as a negative mark against your driving record.

If you share your insurance with your whole family, cancellation of the policy will affect everyone named. Your insurance premiums will be considerably higher than what you are used to because you are now considered a high-risk driver.

If your vehicle is financed and you cannot afford the higher premiums, your vehicle could be repossessed.

What to do?

In the event your insurance is canceled, it is very important to seek out other insurance alternatives as soon as possible.

The reason being if you were to continue to drive and get into an accident, you would be liable for all of your out-of-pocket expenses, which could run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Also having a lapse in coverage could lead to you paying higher insurance premiums as well as fines from the Department of Motor Vehicles.

If you were canceled for a reason such as non-payment, you may be able to work out a payment agreement with a new insurance company.

Shopping around is the best way to find the lowest rates available to you, so collect several quotes online from reputable car insurance companies.

For other more serious offenses of cancellation, you may have a hard time finding insurance. But even so, you are likely able to obtain coverage through your state’s assigned-risk program.

If you believe your car insurance company wrongfully dropped you, you may be able to appeal to the State Department of Insurance.

A canceled policy is bad news, but it is not the end of the line for you. Ultimately, your insurance company wants your business.

As long as you drive safely and continue to pay your premium on time, whether it be monthly or quarterly, you shouldn’t have a problem with your insurance company wanting to cancel your policy.

As a responsible customer, your insurance company will love you and you can avoid all the hassle that comes with a canceled policy. Enter your zip code in our FREE tool below for instant quotes now!

What’s the process of cancelling your auto insurance policy?

  • The company cannot cancel the contract unless they first notify the policyholder
  • Late payments can invalidate a car insurance contract
  • The insurance company has the right to hold you to a contract but there are some circumstances that may allow for a release

There are many valid reasons for car insurance cancellation. First and foremost, the insurance company has the right to cancel a contract if a policyholder defaults on payments, or if there is evidence of tampering or fraud.

Review the circumstances in which both you and your insurer can cancel an auto insurance policy below.

Be sure to enter your zip code above in our free comparison tool and start comparing today!

Why would a company cancel a car insurance policy?

Auto insurance companies reserve the right to cancel your contract if any of the conditions have been violated. However, the company cannot cancel the contract unless they first notify the policyholder.

If there is any situation in which an insurance company might see the need to cancel a policy, they must first send notice to the listed address ten days before cancellation.

The insurance company must give a reason for the cancellation as well as a date of termination. During this time, drivers have the chance to contact the company and resolve the issue.

If no agreement is reached, the policy will be automatically canceled.

What are some of the reasons that may cause a company to forfeit the contract?

Consistently late payments can invalidate a car insurance contract. In addition to fraud, misrepresentation (stretching of the truth or outright lying) can also result in a canceled policy.

The insurance company rightly assumes that insured drivers are giving full information regarding the vehicle and the settings. When they discover misinformation, they usually respond with cancellation.

What if the driver has become increasingly dangerous on the road?

This could result from a major life change (drugs or alcohol) or merely a personality shift, in which the driver makes more unnecessary risks.

If the insurance company reevaluates a driver and finds that he or she is no longer insurable under the present terms, then the company can cancel the policy. Usually, an insurance company will merely raise premiums to reflect the accident claims that have been filed.

However, in rare cases of negligence, an insurance company reserves the right to cancel the policy for a driver that is clearly a danger to himself and others. Also, major traffic violations such as criminal behavior or a DUI/DWI conviction are also grounds for contract cancellation.

Remember also that an insurance company can choose not to renew a policy based on a high number of claims. (Though it’s rare that they cancel a policy mid-year for this reason)

Can you cancel your auto insurance policy if you choose?

There are many reasons why a policyholder might want to cancel a policy. He or she might find a better deal elsewhere or might be disgruntled with the insurance company because of an unpaid claim.

Perhaps the insured has upgraded his or her vehicle and wanted to work with an insurance company that specializes in that type of vehicle. Perhaps the driver cannot afford the premiums anymore or wants to change a deductible plan.

If the insurance company is uncompromising in your request to change the terms, then canceling the policy may be the only option.

The owner of a policy can choose to simply not renew the policy or can cancel the contract, in hopes of getting a refund on the unused portion of the bill.

Though the insurance company has the right to hold you to a contract, unless there is evidence of misrepresentation on the part of the insurance agent, there are some circumstances that may allow for a release. Each insurance carrier has its own process for contract cancellation.

The insurance company may also have to follow state requirements for policy cancellation. The first step to ending a policy is usually to dial the insurance company’s toll-free number and speak to a customer service representative.

Are there internet tools to help in a car insurance comparison?

The agent will usually inform insured drivers that they must write a signed letter stating that they want to be released from the contract for coverage.

If there is no evidence of fraud, and if the cancellation is within a reasonable time frame of new service, then the insurance company may choose to offer a refund.

In this event, the motorist will receive a refund in the form of a check for the misapplied premiums.

Bear in mind that the insurance company can and usually does charge a termination fee for a canceled policy.

The termination fee amount is approximately the same price as one month’s worth of premium payment.

Before deciding to cancel an insurance policy, do your homework and find a company that you trust. Do not go long periods of time without a policy in place. You can get help researching insurance companies with a third party car insurance comparison tool.

These tools let you view your options side by side after you have input the same information on a question form. If you do decide to cancel your current policy, or your company has canceled your policy, you will want to know how you will replace that coverage.

Take a few minutes and just enter your zip code into our free car insurance rate quote tool right now!

When should I cancel my car insurance?

  • You are required by state law to have adequate insurance coverage for all of your vehicles
  • Anyone who does not maintain their insurance faces stiff penalties including jail time and hefty fines
  • When your car insurance is canceled, your local DMV is notified electronically

When you own a vehicle, you are required by state law to either carry insurance or prove that you are financially responsible for any damages due to an accident.

Anyone who owns a car and does not purchase and maintain their insurance can face some tough penalties which may include jail time and hefty fines.

If you are looking to make a switch, start comparing car insurance rates by entering your zip code above!

Reasons to Cancel and Not to Cancel

You should never cancel your insurance or purposefully stop making payments for the following reasons:

  • because you cannot afford your coverage
  • because you are tired of paying the expense

In most states, when a registered owner of a car cancels their insurance policy, the Department of Motor Vehicles is notified electronically. When this notification is sent, there’s a high chance that you will need to pay just to legally drive again.

This is why it is so important to keep your insurance active and to avoid gaps in coverage.

There may come a time when canceling your insurance is appropriate, but canceling the policy too soon or for the wrong reasons could cost you more than it saves you.

Canceling too soon will land you in hot water with state Department of Insurance and also with the courts if you are cited or get into an accident. Knowing when to keep your coverage and when it is time to schedule a date for cancellation is crucial.

Here are the top reasons to cancel your coverage and some of the most common scenarios where a cancellation is a costly mistake.

Moving Across the Country

If you are moving across state lines, you cannot keep the coverage that you are currently paying. Instead, you must cancel the policy and buy coverage from a provider that is licensed to sell insurance in the state.

If you cancel your out-of-state insurance before you buy a new policy, you will be uninsured.

If you do not register your vehicle in the new state, you need to keep your out-of-state insurance until you do so.

Failing to have insurance in the state where the car is titled will still result in fines even if you have coverage elsewhere. This is why you should set up an appointment with the DMV to get plates as soon as possible.

Purchase of a New Policy

If you are not happy with the premiums that you are paying, the only way to reduce your insurance expenses is to shop around and find a company with better rates.

Some companies might prefer to insure younger drivers and others might target the older market with competitive pricing. By shopping around and getting quotes, you will be able to identify which company is priced best.

When you do find a company that has better rates and offers great service, you can choose an effective date and then cancel your old insurance policy.

Make sure that you understand that coverage does take effect at 12:01 am on the date that you select, but it is best to cancel the next date to avoid any issues. Do not expect your policy just to cancel on its own.

You will need to notify your insurer in writing. If you are coming up on your renewal, it might just be easiest to start the new policy on your renewal date to avoid pro-rated cancellation fees.

You Are Selling Your Vehicle

When you sell a vehicle, the buyer takes ownership. When ownership is transferred to the buyer, you are no longer liable when the car is involved in an accident and causes damage to a third party.

Be sure that you have a bill of sale to prove you have signed over the title and then cancel the insurance effective the next day. If you have any time left on your policy, you may receive a partial refund.

If your vehicle is not operable or you are planning on not driving it, you need to decide if canceling the insurance is appropriate.

It is not always necessary to remove insurance entirely. If the car is registered, you need to keep the liability insurance active to avoid non-compliance fines or driver license suspensions. If the car is registered non-operational or you have turned the plates in, you can cancel the insurance.

Many people who carry physical damage will actually keep their policy active and classify it as suspended. By doing this, they will carry only comprehensive cover so that the car will be repaired if it is damaged while parked.

How to cancel your car insurance properly?

It is your responsibility to notify your insurer in writing when you want your policy canceled. While some companies have more modern requirements, you will need to speak with an agent directly before you assume a verbal cancellation is allowed.

It is best to draft a cancellation document that shows your name, the date, your policy number and the effective dates that the cancellation is to take place.

In addition to writing a letter, be sure to give the company your new address when you move. This will ensure that you will receive any refund checks or confirmations that you need without having to wait for them to be forwarded through the US Postal Service.

If you want to find better premiums, you can easily do so by using our FREE online rate comparison tool. Enter your zip code below and start comparing affordable car insurance quotes now!

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.

A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Written by Laura Berry
Former Insurance Agent Laura Berry

Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP® Joel Ohman

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