Photo (cc) by City of Vancouver Archives
Once you have your car insured, it’s natural to assume you’re in the driver’s seat, ready to cruise through renewal automatically every year. In fact, you’re probably more concerned about shopping for lower premiums than losing coverage.
But it’s important to remember that, like the signs you sometimes see in shops and bars, insurance companies also “reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.”
Your insurance company can dump you on any anniversary, and in some cases, between them. If it’s on an anniversary, it’s non-renewal. If it’s any other time, it’s cancellation.
Non-renewal can be for any number of reasons, from your driving record to simply choosing to stop issuing policies in your area. Depending on the state, they may not have to offer a reason at all. But they do have to give notice: typically 10 to 30 days.
Cancellation, on the other hand, is more serious, because it’s more likely to affect your ability to get insurance elsewhere, especially at a decent price.
If your policy is cancelled, most state laws require a specific reason and adequate notice: as with non-renewal, typically 10 to 30 days.
How to get your insurance cancelled
While the specific reasons allowing insurance companies to cancel vary by state, the following infractions could transform you overnight from someone complaining about the cost of coverage into one longing for a premium to pay.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know the more you drive, the more you pay. So when the agent asks about your daily commute, you fudge a little – who’s going to know?
Lies like this can be a relationship-ender. “Forget” to tell the company about your teenaged son who borrows the car, tickets you’ve gotten, or anything else that materially impacts the risk a company assumes and you could be cancelled.
2. Get tickets
It probably comes as no surprise that if you rack up tickets for speeding, running red lights, or other infractions, your insurance company won’t be overjoyed having you as a customer.
While bad behavior is more commonly a cause of non-renewal than cancellation, some states may allow it.
3. Cause accidents
Most insurance companies won’t drop you after one accident, whether it’s your fault or not. Some may not even raise your rates. But repeat offenders will almost certainly pay more and ultimately have trouble maintaining coverage.
While it’s not fair, you may also look riskier to a company following accidents that aren’t your fault. This won’t likely be a source of cancellation, but perhaps non-renewal.
4. Drive drunk
While your car insurance policy may not be immediately cancelled after one drunk driving conviction, you can bet it either won’t be renewed or the renewal will be at a much higher price. Insurance companies are like cops: They take drinking and driving extremely seriously.
5. Space out your bill
Your insurance company will only cover you for so long without dumping you for non-payment. How long depends on the insurance company and state regulations. But failing to pay is probably the biggest reason for policy cancellations.
Cancellation: not a pretty picture
When you shop for replacement coverage after a cancellation, you’ll be asked if another company ever cancelled your policy. Deny it, and you’ll undoubtedly get caught. Admit it, and the company may not offer you insurance at all or, if they do, you’ll pay a higher price.
So if you ever get a cancellation notice in the mail, do what you can to reverse it. If it’s for non-payment, offer an excuse, promise to pay immediately, and don’t let it happen again. If it’s for lying, tickets, or other forms of bad behavior, same drill: Offer a reason and a promise it will never happen again.
Bottom line? When it’s time to break up with your insurance company, you need to be able to say, “It’s not me, it’s you.” Because if you’re the problem, you’ve likely got bigger bills and more hassle coming down the road.