Switch Car Insurance Companies in 6 Steps

It’s not hard to change car insurance. But it does require some research and communication with your old and new insurers.
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Written by Ryan Brady
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Edited by Lacie Glover
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Switching Car Insurance Companies in 7 Steps

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Nerdy takeaways
  • Switching car insurance companies is relatively painless and can save you money, or help you get stronger customer service or a policy better tailored to your needs.

  • You can switch car insurance companies at any time, even if you just renewed a policy with your current insurer.

  • While most insurers don’t penalize customers for switching, some may charge you a cancellation fee.

  • Shop around for auto insurance at least once a year to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible.

If you’ve ever bought auto insurance, you’ve probably considered changing car insurance companies at some point.

Although it’s likely not a top priority (let’s face it, insurance isn’t exactly glamorous), changing car insurance companies isn’t as daunting as it seems and it could even save you money. Yet, only 28% of Americans say they shop around for auto insurance regularly, according to a 2021 NerdWallet study.

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But making up your mind to change car insurance companies is only half the battle. Here’s how to make the transition as smooth as possible.

How to switch car insurance companies

1. Compare auto insurers

Get quotes from at least three insurers if you’re considering switching car insurance companies. When comparing rates, review and match policy features — things like coverage types, limits and deductibles — to your current policy. Keep your declaration page handy when comparing rates. That's that one-to-two page document summarizing your policy and premium you’re paying.

When comparing companies, be on the lookout for perks or freebies that could pay off later. For example, Erie includes accident forgiveness in its auto insurance policies once you’ve been a customer for three years. NJM includes new car replacement, which pays for a brand new car of the same make and model if yours is totaled or stolen, minus the deductible.

2. Research the company before you switch

While price is important, don’t overlook other factors like customer complaints and coverage options when picking your new auto insurer. Otherwise, you might end up with a great rate but find yourself switching companies in another six months because of a frustrating claims experience. Check out our list of the best car insurance companies for auto insurers that put consumers first.

3. Contact your current auto insurer

If price is your main consideration for switching, talk to your current insurer to see if it’s willing to match your lower offer before you commit to changing car insurance. If it can’t provide a better rate, find out how you can cancel and request the policy end date in writing. In some cases, you might need to provide a written request to end your policy. Your new company may even help you “break up” with your current insurer by sending a cancellation letter on your behalf.

Take this opportunity to find out about any cancellation fees or possible refunds from your current insurer. Many companies allow you to cancel for free at any time, but some might charge a fee if you cancel mid-policy.

You may get a refund if you switch before your policy runs out. For instance, if you paid for a six-month policy but decide to switch after four months, your insurer should reimburse you for the remaining two months’ worth of coverage (minus any cancellation fee).

4. Avoid a coverage gap

Insurers charge significantly higher rates after a lapse in coverage, so make sure you have car insurance at all times. One way to do this is to set your new policy to begin the same day your old one officially ends.

Many insurers offer a discount for having continuous coverage, even if you’re switching companies. To qualify, some companies require you to sign up for a new policy seven days before the term ends, so keep this in mind when determining your start date.

5. Change your ID cards

Don’t forget to swap your old car insurance ID cards with fresh ones from your new insurer. Every state except for New Mexico and Washington, D.C., allows digital proof of insurance, and some insurers allow you to download a digital ID card on your phone. This makes it convenient to get your ID cards, but it also makes it an easy chore to put off. You might simply forget to print them if you opt for electronic documents stored online.

6. Let your leasing company or lender know about your switch

If you have a car loan or lease your vehicle, you may be required by your lender to have a certain amount of insurance coverage, including comprehensive and collision insurance. Because the lender or leasing company has a financial stake in your car, it will want to make sure the vehicle is covered by insurance. Naturally, then, it’s important for the lender to be updated with changes. Otherwise, it may think you don’t have the required insurance. Ask your new insurer to send proof of insurance to the lender or leasing company as well as to you.

Car with shield on road

See what you could save on car insurance

Easily compare personalized rates to see how much switching car insurance could save you.
on NerdWallet

When to switch car insurance companies

Aim to compare car insurance rates at least once a year to get the best deal. But you don’t need to wait until your policy ends to make the switch. You can change companies whenever you want: mid-policy, at the end of your term or even two days into your term.

You can even switch companies if you have an open insurance claim, but your current insurer will still be responsible for handling it.

Other common times you may want to change car insurance companies are when you’re:

  • Experiencing poor customer service.

  • Seeing a spike in your car insurance premium.

  • Planning to move.

  • Adding a new driver to your policy (for example, if you got married or want to add a teen driver).

  • Buying or adding a new car to your policy.

  • Seeing a drastic increase or decrease in your credit score — unless you’re in California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts or Michigan. Those states ban or limit car insurers from increasing rates depending on credit information.

  • Increasing or reducing coverage.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Even if none of these situations apply to you right now and you’re happy with your company, it’s worth taking the time to shop around. Some auto insurers use a practice called price optimization to charge loyal customers higher rates because they’re less likely to switch companies.

Keep in mind that your car insurance rate will stay the same during your entire policy. For example, even if you receive a speeding ticket, get into an accident or have another violation in the first month of a six-month term, your rate won’t increase until you renew.

Because of this, switching car insurance companies immediately after a traffic violation will likely result in higher rates. However, once you find out the cost of renewal with your current insurer, you can shop around to make sure you are getting the best price. NerdWallet recommends comparing rates one, three and five years after a violation.

Frequently asked questions

Yes. Most companies will let you cancel your auto insurance for free at any time before your renewal date, and many insurers allow you to start a new policy immediately. If your insurer charges a cancellation fee, it may be worth waiting until the end of the policy period before you switch.

No. In general, you won’t be penalized for switching car insurance companies, no matter how often you change insurers. Some insurers may charge a cancellation fee for canceling your policy before the end of your policy period.

Yes, it’s your responsibility to reach out to your current insurer and let it know you’re planning to cancel your policy when changing car insurance companies. Otherwise, your former insurer may continue to bill you and ultimately report your failure to make payments, which could ding your credit score. Set your cancellation date for the same day your new policy begins (or shortly thereafter) to avoid a gap in coverage.

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