When is switching car insurance providers worthwhile?

Looking for a better rate on your auto insurance? Getting a free car insurance quote is quick and easy, and could bring you significant savings if you find a cheaper rate and decide to make the switch. But before you cancel your policy for a less expensive alternative, don't forget these important factors:

Cancelling can cost you

Cancellation fees are almost inevitable if you're looking to cancel your policy midway through your term. Nearly all insurance companies charge a cancellation fee — though the amount that you'll be required to pay can vary significantly. Cancellation fees can be somewhat discretionary. They vary by the cost of the policy, the remainder of the term and the amount of time you've been insured with your provider. If you can secure a new policy that saves you significantly more than your old policy, it may be worthwhile to make the switch.

To switch or not to switch?

Deciding to switch auto insurance companies before your annual renewal date may or may not end up saving you money, depending on what it's going to cost you to cancel. Remember that while the annual savings may be enough to convince you to switch, you're not going to see all of those savings in the first policy year since you're already partially through your term. Plus, you still have to pay the cancellation fees. Some simple calculations will help ensure that switching in the middle of your policy will leave money in your pocket.

To start, take your total annual policy savings and divide them by 12 (for the 12 months of the year — your policy term). This gives you your monthly savings.

Then multiply your monthly savings by the number of months left on your term to get the true amount you can expect to save during the remainder of the policy.

Switch: If the savings are significantly more than the cancellation fee, then it makes financial sense to switch mid-term.

Stay (for now): If the cancellation fee is more than the savings you calculated above, wait until your policy renewal date to switch. If the cancellation costs exceed the savings you can expect on this policy term, don't worry. Just take note of the renewal date and arrange to switch insurance providers when your current policy comes up for renewal. You'll avoid any cancellation fees and make sure that you get the full benefit of the new rate for the next policy term.

Making the switch

If you decide to make the switch, make sure that your new car insurance policy is in place before you cancel your existing policy to avoid getting stuck without insurance. To make sure that your coverage is constant, call your new provider to arrange the effective date (when your coverage will begin) before you cancel your existing policy.

This way you are entirely protected and can be sure that you have less expensive coverage in place before you cancel. Once you've confirmed the start date of the new policy, you can feel comfortable scheduling the cancellation of your existing policy on the same day.

If you pay your premium annually, you can expect a refund (full or partial, depending) for the remaining term of your policy from your car insurance company — minus, of course, the cancellation fees.

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