5 Things to Consider Before Canceling Your Car Insurance

Changing Car Insurance

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The decision to cancel a car insurance policy should not be made lightly. There are many factors to consider, and some could have huge impacts on your financial future. It is extremely important to make an informed decision on the subject matter. Know the risks involved in canceling a car insurance policy before you make the call.

Key Takeaways

  • It's best to keep some insurance unless you're leaving the country or not going to be driving at all.
  • You might be able to be added to someone else's policy or reduce your coverage rather than canceling it.
  • Penalties for driving without insurance vary between states, but the costs range from a few hundred dollars to paying for all damages out of your pocket.

1. How Long Will You Be Without a Car?

It's a pretty important question. If you are in between cars for just a short time, you should definitely keep your car insurance intact. Most states penalize drivers for going without car insurance for any length of time, which means that when you go to purchase car insurance again, you will be labeled as a high-risk driver and you will be charged at a higher rate, just because you do not have an active policy. If you’re going to be without a car for several years, it might make sense to cancel your coverage—but really only if you won’t be driving at all during that time, such as if you’re moving to a big city with great public transit or leaving the country.

2. Can You Be Added As a Driver On Someone Else’s Policy In Your Household?

One good alternative is to be added as a driver on another insurance policy—usually the policy of someone who lives in your household. Being added as a driver is usually fairly inexpensive, but rates could go up depending on your driving record and other rating factors. Being listed as a driver on this policy would keep your insured status active, therefore you would not be considered high risk when you decide to insure another vehicle.

3. Can You Reduce Your Coverage Instead of Canceling?

Can't make your insurance payments? Does your lender require you to carry full insurance coverage? I've seen it many times. A person can not afford their car insurance payments, their lender requires full coverage, and instead of reducing their coverage, they just let their policy lapse. Will dropping comprehensive and collision coverage make your lender angry? Yes. Will they take out a policy in your name and send you the bill? Probably. But, it could buy you some extra time—and it will keep you out of trouble with the law. In addition to these benefits, you will still be covered for liability and medical depending on your selected coverage. Why would anyone think that they are better off canceling an entire insurance policy versus just dropping physical damage or other boutique coverage? The lender will respond to you the same either way, but you will pay a much higher price with the law and from your pocket if you cancel your policy in its entirety. One last possibility is to raise the deductible on comprehensive and collision to the maximum amount allowed. This will save some money and keep some coverage, but it will also make it even more important to drive carefully because any accident could end up costing you a ton of money.

4. Do You Have a New Car Insurance Policy In Place?

Switching car insurance does need to be timed properly. Most importantly, the new policy needs to be active before canceling your old policy. You should also be sure to request a cancellation from your prior insurance carrier versus letting it cancel by not making a payment. It is not only good manners, but will also save some hassle with grace periods, refunds, and extra paperwork.

5. Penalties for Driving Without Car Insurance

Thinking of driving your car uninsured? I'm sure it has crossed many people's mind to attempt it in order to save some money. Insurance is often regarded as being unimportant because there is a "chance" you may not use it at all. The problem is, it is not something we can predict. It is actually very probable driving uninsured will cost you a whole lot more than the cost of a policy. Being caught by law enforcement can cost you hundreds of dollars and you will still need to purchase car insurance on top of it. Being caught in an accident without car insurance can cost you everything. Most likely you will be held personally liable for all damages and it can be financially crippling.

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  1. Consumer Federation of America. "Auto Insurance: A National Issue of Economic Justice," Page 11.

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