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Which insurance company is responsible for paying a claim resulting from an accident that happened before I switched companies?

Your previous car insurance company would be responsible for handling the claim.

Even though you waited until after you switched insurers to make the claim (or someone you hit waited to make the claim), the insurance company you had a legal contract with at the time of the accident is the one that would pay.

The insurer cannot refuse your claim just because you changed insurers after the incident.

Your new car insurance company would not be involved in any way with the claim since you were not yet under your contract with them at the time of the event. 

And you can’t make a claim with each insurance company for the same incident.  Making duplicate claims would be considered insurance fraud.  Information for all previous and pending claims is stored in a database that all auto insurers can access (the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange, known as C.L.U.E.).

It’s best to make a claim before you switch car insurance providers if possible.  In fact, most insurance companies want to know about an event that may lead to a claim immediately after it occurs.

If you wait to make claim, you should expect to be asked why you waited. Don’t be surprised if the insurer for conducts an in-depth investigation if it suspects anything even remotely fishy.  Insurance fraud pushes up costs for the insurer that is then passed on to drivers, so if there even a hint of something off, a detailed investigation typically ensues.

If you waited to make the claim because you were trying to work with an individual to pay out-of-pocket, or you were saving up the deductible amount, let the car insurance company know so it better understands why time elapsed before the claim was made.

Switching car insurance companies is a great idea if it saves you money or gets you better coverage, but it might be more difficult when you have an open claim. Some auto insurance companies don’t want to take on motorists that have claims pending, and that might limit your options.