How to Cancel Car Insurance

Quick Answer

To cancel your car insurance, contact your insurer and submit your request. Be sure to ask about refunds and get a confirmation, and have another policy in place to avoid a lapse in coverage.

hands holding a red car model offering guidance to cancel car insurance

Canceling a car insurance policy is a relatively simple task, but it's important to follow each step to make sure the process goes smoothly.

You may consider canceling your car insurance policy if you're replacing it with a policy from a different carrier, you're moving out of state, you're selling your car or you simply no longer have plans to drive. Here's what you need to know about how to cancel your policy and when it makes sense.

How to Cancel Your Car Insurance

The process for canceling your car insurance policy may vary slightly depending on your carrier. But in general, here are three steps you can take to accomplish your goal.

1. Contact Your Insurer

Call your insurance provider's customer service team or visit the agency to speak with your agent in person. Some insurance companies may require that you provide your request in writing. If not, it may still be a good idea so you have a paper trail.

You'll need to provide your policy number and may also be asked why you're canceling. The agent may try to persuade you to stay. However, if you've shopped around and found a cheaper policy with another carrier, be firm about your wish to cancel.

2. Get a Confirmation

When you request to cancel your car insurance policy, you can generally expect it to be processed promptly. Still, it's important to ask for confirmation so you have something to fall back on if you get charged again or run into other issues.

You'll first want to verify the cancellation date with the agent or customer service representative. If you're replacing it with a new policy, it's crucial to ensure that there's no lapse in coverage.

You'll also want to receive written confirmation after the policy has been terminated. You may receive this in the form of an email or a letter in the mail. Check with your carrier to find out how it generally handles confirmations.

3. Have Another Policy in Place

Unless you have no plans to have car insurance again in the future, it's important to have another policy in place before your current one is canceled. Otherwise, you may face several consequences, including:

  • Higher rates: Car insurance companies typically charge higher premiums if you're found to have a lapse in coverage. The penalty is relatively small for a short lapse, but it grows the longer you're without insurance.
  • Personal liability: If you're uninsured even for one day and cause an accident, you'll be on the hook to pay for damage and any injuries.
  • Driving privileges: Most states require that you have car insurance coverage to drive a vehicle. So if you're pulled over and don't have a current policy, your driver's license may be suspended.
  • Repossession: If you have an outstanding loan on your vehicle, your lender likely requires that you maintain full coverage on the car. If the lender receives notice of the cancellation from the insurance company but doesn't receive any information about a new policy, it may begin the process to repossess the vehicle.

Note that if you're selling your car and not replacing it, it may still make sense to purchase non-owner car insurance to avoid penalties for a lapse in coverage and to cover you when you drive other people's vehicles.

When to Cancel Car Insurance

There are a few situations where it can make sense to cancel your current car insurance policy, including:

  • You no longer drive. If you have no intention of driving again in the future, it may not make sense to maintain traditional or non-owner car insurance coverage.
  • You're moving. Auto insurance is regulated on the state level, so if you move, you'll need to get a new policy. Your current insurer may offer to handle that for you, but it's a good idea to shop around and compare quotes from other carriers to ensure you get the best rate. If you're moving out of the country and plan to keep driving, you'll likely need to purchase coverage in that country.
  • You're covered under another policy. If you recently got married or were added to another policy by a parent or other loved one, you don't need double coverage.
  • You found a cheaper rate. It's a good idea to shop around for car insurance coverage at least once a year to make sure you still have the best rate available. If you find a lower rate elsewhere, though, it may not make sense to stick with your current policy.
  • You want to bundle your policies. If you have an auto insurance policy with one carrier and a homeowners or renters insurance policy with another, you may be able to get a discount by bundling them with a single carrier.

When Not to Cancel Your Car Insurance

While there are clear situations where canceling your policy is the right move, there are others where it may make more sense to simply adjust your current policy:

  • Your marital status changed. If you've recently gotten married or divorced, you can simply update your marital status with your carrier and add or remove your new spouse or ex-spouse.
  • You're putting your car in storage. Many insurers offer discounted rates on stored vehicles, allowing you to avoid a lapse in coverage.
  • You sold your car. If you sold your car and replaced it with another one, you can remove the old vehicle and add the new model to your policy.
  • Your budget is tight. While it may be tempting to cancel your policy in times of financial hardship, you may face much worse financial consequences if you drive without coverage. Instead, shop around to see if you can get a better rate elsewhere and consider adjusting your coverage to make it more affordable.

Can You Get a Refund on Car Insurance?

Auto insurance policies are typically paid upfront, which means that if you cancel yours in the middle of your policy term, you're entitled to a refund of the remaining portion.

In most cases, you'll receive a prorated refund. For example, if you paid $600 for a six-month policy and you're canceling after four months, you'll receive $200 back from the insurance provider. In this case, there's usually no cancellation fee.

However, some insurance companies may use what's called short-rate cancellation. With this method, the insurer determines the refund rules and may retain a portion of your unused policy premium as a penalty for early termination.

Insurers will typically issue the refund to the original payment method but double-check with your carrier so you know where to look.

Does Canceling Car Insurance Affect Your Credit?

Generally speaking, canceling your car insurance policy won't have any impact on your credit score. The only exception is if you have an unpaid premium and the insurer sends the debt to a collection agency.

At that point, the debt may be reported to the credit bureaus as a collection account, which can have a significant negative impact on your credit.

The Bottom Line

There are several reasons to consider canceling your car insurance, but it's important to understand when it makes more sense to simply adjust your policy instead. If you do end up canceling your policy, it's crucial to make sure you get confirmation from the carrier and details about a potential refund.

It may also be a good idea to have another policy in place, even if you're selling your car, to avoid the potential consequences of not having any coverage at all. Compare car insurance quotes with different insurers to get the best deal if you plan to leave your current insurer.