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You can cancel a car insurance policy at any time. In many cases, you might be eligible for a partial or even a full refund of any advance premiums you've paid. While some providers might require a written notice or cancellation form, others might just need a simple phone call.

However, we recommend doing a bit of homework before making such decisions to ensure you don't inadvertently create a gap in your coverage. A coverage lapse could potentially mean higher premiums down the road. With a bit of foresight and planning, you can sidestep issues like overlapping coverage, unnecessary extra fees and, most importantly, any gaps in your car insurance coverage.

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Key Takeaways

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You can choose to cancel your car insurance policy at any time, regardless of your reason, but it’s a good idea to know about any fees or consequences you might incur.

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If you cancel your car insurance before its renewal date, you may get a refund for some or all of your unused premium if you have prepaid. Depending on your insurer's cancellation policy, you may receive a full or a partial refund.

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Canceling your policy may not be the best course of action. Before canceling, consider suspending your policy, changing your coverage or waiting for your policy to end.

How Soon Can You Cancel Your Car Insurance?

You can cancel your auto insurance policy at any time during the coverage. You have the right to stop your coverage before it renews or right after it starts.

However, some insurance companies may need a 30-day notice before you can cancel, so if you're not renewing, tell your provider ahead of time. In addition, a last-minute cancellation can sometimes lead to fees or future penalty rates.

The best way to determine whether your insurer has specific cancellation guidelines is to contact your insurer or review your policy’s fine print.

What Happens When You Cancel Your Car Insurance?

While you're at liberty to cancel your insurance policy at any time, it's important to be well-informed about potential outcomes. For instance, you might face a fee of up to $50, depending on the insurer.

There are two main methods that insurers might employ to determine your refund:

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    Pro-Rata Refund

    You'll receive a refund based on your unused prepaid premiums. For example, if you're five months into your 12-month policy and decide to cancel, you should anticipate a refund for the remaining seven months.

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    Short-Rate Cancellations

    Some insurers apply this method, where a percentage, usually between 10% to 15%, is deducted from any unused premium before issuing the refund. Let's say you paid $1,200 for a 12-month policy and decided to cancel halfway through. While you'd typically expect a $600 refund from the unused premiums, with a short-rate cancellation at 10%, the insurer would deduct $60, ultimately handing you a refund of $540.

For a seamless experience and to potentially maintain a harmonious relationship for any future dealings, always adhere to your insurer's designated cancellation procedures.

Cases When You May Get a Refund

Insurance isn't static — it evolves with the ebb and flow of your life circumstances and needs. Understanding when you may be eligible for a refund on your policy can empower you to make smarter decisions and save money.

Here are a few scenarios in which you might find some money coming back your way:

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    Adjusting Your Coverage

    If you decide to reduce your coverage or policy limits, you might be entitled to a prorated refund for the unused portion. However, note that some providers, especially those that you pay monthly, might not return the unused part of your premium.

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    Shuffling Your Vehicle Line-Up

    Let's say you decide to remove a vehicle from your policy, or perhaps you sell a car and have no immediate plans for replacement. In such instances, your premiums would be reduced, and you might get a refund for the difference or the unused portion.

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    If you're moving to another state, your insurance needs might shift. If you end up canceling your policy in your current state, there's a possibility for a refund.

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    Provider-Initiated Cancellation

    Rarely, an insurer might cancel your policy for reasons other than non-payment. In these cases, expect a refund.

Before canceling your auto insurance prematurely, inquire about any associated costs. And if you're thinking of moving to a new insurance provider, always make sure you have a new policy in place before canceling the old one.

How to Cancel Your Car Insurance Policy

Life changes, and sometimes, so do our insurance needs. Whether you're looking to switch providers, you've found a better rate or your circumstances have shifted, you may be considering canceling your car insurance policy..

Here's a guide to help you navigate the process and ensure you're making informed choices every step of the way:


Find a new provider

Before bidding farewell to your current insurer, it's essential to line up a new policy. This ensures you're always protected on the road and avoids any gaps in coverage. Remember, the transition should be seamless: activate your new policy before the old one concludes.


Call your current insurer

Each insurer has its own cancellation procedure. It's advisable to connect with your provider — be it through a phone call, email or their mobile app. While your policy documents will provide specifics, speaking with an agent can provide more clarity. Major players, like GEICO, even offer the convenience of phone cancellations. Key points to discuss include:

  • The step-by-step cancellation process
  • Required documentation
  • Timeframes involved
  • Potential costs or penalties

Provide cancellation documents

Certain insurers may request:

  • A formal letter indicating your intention to cancel
  • A specific cancellation form
  • When providing these, you'll typically need details like your policy number, name and desired cancellation date

Send proof of new insurance

If you've transitioned to a different car insurance company, your former insurer might require evidence of this new coverage.


Cancel your car insurance

With your new policy active and all documentation in place, it's time to formally cancel your old insurance. Be aware that some providers might charge a cancellation fee. On the bright side, you could be eligible for a refund on any prepaid premiums.

When navigating insurance transitions, it's key to do your research and take a proactive approach to ensure the process goes smoothly.

Why People Cancel Their Car Insurance Policies

You may have found a better rate through another company, or maybe you're not happy with the service you're getting. Here are common reasons you may want to cancel your coverage:

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    You're moving to a different state

    Not all insurers offer policies in all states. If you move to an area their current insurer doesn’t cover, you'll need to cancel your current policy and open a new one.

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    Another provider offers lower rates

    Comparing quotes between insurers may help you find a company that offers lower premiums. In that case, you may want to switch providers, which will lead you to cancel their policy with your current provider.

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    You're dissatisfied with your insurer’s service

    It’s not all about cost. Even if you're paying the lowest available rate with your current insurer, you might be frustrated with how your provider handles claims or other service needs. In this case, you may want to cancel their policy and switch to a different insurer.

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    You're selling your car

    You may choose to cancel your car insurance policy if you're selling your vehicle and don't have plans to buy a new one. However, if you replace your vehicle with a new one, it might be better to transfer coverage instead of canceling it.

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There are certain situations where a cancellation — especially a sudden one — may not be your best course of action. For example, if you’re going for an extended vacation, it may be better to suspend your coverage rather than cancel.

If you can’t afford your current insurer:

If you bought a new car, you can easily transfer insurance to your new car without canceling your policy.

Mistakes to Avoid When Canceling Your Car Insurance Abruptly


Forgetting to notify your provider that you want to cancel your car insurance

When you find a better deal elsewhere, you may get so excited that you sign up for new insurance and forget to cancel your original policy. This could result in you paying for two car insurance plans simultaneously.

To prevent this, be sure to notify your insurer about your intent to cancel your current policy.


Not checking your insurer’s cancellation process

You can call your insurance company to request a policy cancellation, but some companies require a signature to make it official. Asking your insurer about their cancellation process can help you ensure you meet all the requirements. You can also take this opportunity to ask about their cancellation fees and refunds.


Incurring a coverage lapse between your old and new policies

A coverage lapse occurs when you cancel your old policy before your new one begins, creating a coverage gap of a day or longer.

A common practice to prevent this is to have your new policy take effect at least one day before your cancellation becomes final. You can coordinate this with your insurer.


Missing out on car insurance requirements

Before you cancel your auto insurance policy, make sure you thoroughly understand your obligations, especially if you're leasing or financing your vehicle.

For those leasing a car, remember that it's typically not permissible to outright cancel your insurance. Lease agreements almost always mandate carrying both collision and comprehensive insurance throughout the lease duration. If you're contemplating switching to a different policy, be prepared to furnish proof of this new insurance. However, the freedom to entirely cancel your policy often only comes once your lease term concludes.

Similarly, when financing a vehicle, outright cancellation isn't an option. Doing so could breach your loan terms. If you happen to drop your coverage, lenders might opt to secure coverage on their own and then add the cost to your monthly obligations. Always be aware of your commitments and ensure you're making well-informed decisions.


Deciding on a new policy before shopping around

If your premium is high and you want to explore other insurance options, don’t forget to compare quotes from multiple providers. You’ll want to provide the same information as you gather estimates to get an accurate comparison. Ideally, you should look at three to four quotes before deciding which policy to go with.

Frequently Asked Questions

MoneyGeek answered some frequently asked questions about car insurance cancellation to help you through the process.

About Mark Fitzpatrick

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Mark Fitzpatrick is a senior content director at MoneyGeek with over five years of experience analyzing the insurance market, conducting original research and creating content that can be personalized for every buyer. He has been quoted on insurance topics in several publications, including CNBC, NBC News and Mashable.

Mark earned a master’s degree in Economics and International Relations from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree from Boston College. He is passionate about using his economics and insurance knowledge to bring transparency around financial topics and help others feel confident in their money moves.