When should you shop for car insurance?

Significant changes in your life are the best reason to compare car insurance rates, including: 

  • Marriage 
  • When you move to a different ZIP code 
  • When you want to add a new driver to your policy 
  • When you buy a new car 
  • When you receive a ticket, get in an accident or are convicted of a DUI 

And there’s nothing wrong with shopping just because you’re curious. The worst that can happen when comparing car insurance quotes is that you get the best price available.

Experts say it’s best to shop for car insurance at least once a year. Factors such as your driving record, coverage needs, and insurance market conditions can change over time. 

By comparing quotes from different insurers periodically, you can ensure you are getting the best coverage at the most competitive rates. Additionally, shopping around allows you to explore new discounts, promotions and policy options that may better suit your evolving needs. 

What should you do to switch mid-policy?

Don’t do anything with your old insurance policy until you have a new one. Even a one-day gap between policies can hurt you – not just because you might have an accident, but because you might be flagged as an uninsured driver. 

Understand how to switch insurance companies before switching so you can make smart decisions when you switch.

Once you have a new insurance policy, notify your current carrier that you are canceling the policy and the effective date of the cancellation. Tell the company you have switched insurance companies. They may ask for proof, such as a policy number. If you don’t provide it, they may be required to report the cancellation to your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, which would consider you uninsured.

Look for a confirmation of the cancellation with the effective date. If you don’t get one, check with the company. You may get billed at renewal time if you don’t see proof of cancellation.

You should get a prorated refund of any premiums for coverage past the cancellation date.

Is there a downside to shopping and switching companies mid-policy? 

There can be. 

For example, a driver with a long history with one insurance company may lose accrued loyalty discounts or credits toward a vanishing deductible or accident forgiveness.

If you have home and auto policies with your current insurance company and move only your car, you may lose a substantial bundling (or multi-policy) discount.

Most major car insurance companies don’t charge a cancellation fee; some do, and the amount can vary by state. On the other hand, some auto insurance companies offer a discount just for switching – and many also offer an "early bird" discount for purchasing your policy at least seven to 14 days before your current car insurance policy expires.

Auto insurance FAQs

Can I change car insurance before renewal date?

You can change car insurance before your renewal date. You're not obligated to stay with your current insurer until the renewal period. However, it's essential to consider potential cancellation fees or penalties for ending your policy early.

Also, switching insurers mid-term may impact your premiums or eligibility for discounts. It's advisable to compare quotes from different insurers and review the terms and conditions of your current policy before making a decision. Notify your current insurer of your intention to cancel and ensure continuous coverage with the new insurer to avoid gaps in protection.