Switching auto insurance providers can potentially save you hundreds of dollars on your premiums. Follow these steps to ensure a smooth transition when changing insurers in California.
1. Shop Around and Compare New Quotes
- Use an online quote comparison tool to get rate estimates from multiple top insurers at once. You can also work with independent agents to have them shop rates.
- Compare the premiums, coverage options, customer service ratings, financial strength ratings, discounts offered, and extra benefits side-by-side. Make sure you are comfortable with the new insurer's reputation.
- Look closely at the liability limits, deductibles, and optional coverages offered. Do they meet your needs and California's minimum requirements? Ask the agent to explain coverages.
- Narrow down your choice to the insurer providing the optimal mix of rate, coverage, and service.
2. Notify Your Current Auto Insurer You Are Canceling
- Once you have selected a new insurance provider, contact your current insurer to let them know you will not be renewing your policy.
- Check your policy contract for specifics on when and how to cancel. Most insurers require written notice 5-10 days before the next renewal date.
- Request details on any cancellation fees based on your policy terms. Some insurers charge small administrative fees.
- Ask about any impact cancelling early may have on policies you have bundled. For example, you may lose a multi-policy discount.
3. Choose a Cancellation and New Policy Start Date
- Carefully choose a cancellation date that lines up with when your new policy will take effect. Confirm the new insurer will provide coverage beginning on your old policy's cancellation date.
- Make sure you do not have any gap in coverage between policies, even for one day. Driving uninsured can lead to fines, license suspension, and higher future rates.
- If your new insurer cannot match the cancellation date exactly, see if your current provider can adjust the cancellation date to align without lapse.
4. Obtain Proof of New Insurance Before Canceling Old Policy
- Get proof of insurance documents from your new insurer before canceling your old policy. This may be an insurance card or declarations page showing you are insured.
- You must have this documentation to legally drive and show authorities if requested. Do not cancel the old policy until you have it from the new company.
5. Cancel Your Old Policy
- Once you have confirmation of new coverage, officially cancel your old policy on the determined date. Call the insurer or send written notification. Remove any auto-pay settings.
- Request a refund of any unused premium if you cancelled mid-policy. Most insurers will promptly refund any overpayment.
- Return license plates if required by the old insurer. Also provide proof of your new insurance coverage.
Don't Allow Coverage to Lapse During the Transition
- Avoid any gap between your old and new insurance policy. Even a single day lapse can lead to big fines, license suspension, and higher premiums in the future if caught driving uninsured.
- Coordinate carefully to switch policies seamlessly. Don't cancel the old one until the new one is already in place. This guarantees you always have active insurance.