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Oct 30

How to Cancel an Insurance Policy – the Do’s and Don’ts

I want out! It has come time to cancel your insurance policy – how exactly is it done?  Is it as complicated as the policy wordings?  Well – No!  It is actually pretty easy!  Of course, it’s a simple conversation if you have an easy-going insurance broker, otherwise it might come with a bit of resistance.  As a policy holder, you have the right to cancel, so here is some simple advice on what to do and what not to do when canceling your policy.

Cancellation of insurance policies is a fact of the insurance business and from time to time, clients will ask me to cancel their policies – sometimes due to the fact that I have found a better insurance solution for their needs, other times because the solution that worked at a certain point in time, is no longer working for them and yet other times because they don’t need coverage anymore.

First, you have to know that the regulations are stacked in your favour – For an insurance company to cancel your policy; they have to have registered letters giving ample notice that they are going to cancel the policy, reason and – if you owe money – a chance for you to pay it back and continue along on your merry way.

If you are going to cancel the policy, there are several ways to get it done. Here is an ideal way and a non-ideal way to cancel your policy:

As a consumer you can cancel a policy:

a)  In writing – this is the absolute best way to cancel a policy (for you and your broker) – it should contain the following information:

  • Insured’s name(s) – the name of the people that are insured under the policy
  • The policy number – (may be different than the account number – depending on the company)
  • The company that is insuring you
  • The date you wish the policy cancelled
    For example: In consideration of the return of unearned premium to follow if any, I hereby request cancellation of   ABC Insurance Company Policy No. ABC1234 and any renewal thereof and hereby release the said Company from Month Day Year. Your name(s) would appear at the bottom of the letter underneath your signature(s).
  • All policy holder signatures – everyone listed on the policy needs to sign consent

b)  Stop paying your premiums – Does the job but NOT A GOOD IDEA!

Your policy will be cancelled but the aftermath will be different for the type of policy that you have, for example:

  • Auto & Home insurance – cancelled for non – payment: Not good at all to have on your record – may affect premiums in the future
  • Business insurance – cancelled for non-payment – Would you do business with someone who doesn’t pay you – insurance companies don’t look too kindly on businesses that don’t pay their insurance bills – it is hassle they aren’t fond of.
  • Life insurance – not paying your premiums is actually one of the few ways your “in-force” policy can be cancelled – still it is better to cancel in writing – it really gives you a chance to think about why you are cancelling and perhaps to speak to a representative to get advice.

One thing you definitely cannot do is request a change or cancellation of your policy(s) by leaving a message on your broker’s voicemail – they won’t accept it for several reasons including the fact that we cannot verify that it is indeed you that is leaving the message.

When cancelling your policy always ensure that coverage is in place first to replace the insurance policy that you are replacing (if you are replacing it).  You definitely don’t want to be caught without coverage!

So remember, like anything else in life – put it in writing and send it via fax, mail, or email and make sure to get a delivery receipt.  Make sure you address the notice to your broker and things should proceed smoothly.

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380 comments

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  1. kevin

    I have just purchased my first home. Recieved a quote for home insurance and agreed to the policy.
    When the policy came in the mail on or about closing day January 15 2014, the amount was $28 more per month than quoted, and my girlfriends name was not listed on the policy. I am not impressed and think I may cancel and move on. Is there a time in the first 14 days where you can cancel without penalty?
    Or are those two errors a valid reason for cancelling without penalty?

    Thanks

  2. Claudio

    you can cancel for any reason you choose – if you don’t like the person’s demeanor or even their mustache : ) .

    I would check to see if there are cancellation fees (which there will be) and i would first obtain a new quote. To be perfectly honest, i would stay on for at least a year. You are a new home owner and need the insurance experience in order to get cheaper rates.

  3. Anonymous

    Greetings I am so excited I found your blog, I really found you by accident, while I was browsing on Yahoo for something else, Nonetheless I am here now and would just like to say thank you for a marvelous post
    and a all round thrilling blog (I also love the theme/design), I
    don’t have time to look over it all at the moment but I have saved it and also added in your RSS feeds, so
    when I have time I will be back to read a lot more, Please do keep up the fantastic job.

  4. anonymus

    Our original homeowner policy expired – my husband shopped around and found one that was cheaper than the previous, so we took it. We are now being harassed by the previous agent who is demanding we send payment of $500+ in order to cancel a policy we did not agree to…… does this seem right?

  5. Claudio

    It would depend on the terms of your insurance contract. Did it renew automatically and for how long? if he can justify it, while it may not be right, it could be legal.

  6. Chris

    Hi, I cancelled my life, critical illness and disability insurance policies a year ago. Is it possible to get the money I paid to the companies back?? I didn’t ask about this when cancelled but they got about $4000 of my cash!

  7. Claudio

    it totally depends on the terms in the policy and how long it was in force. I cannot answer that question here.

  8. Dan M

    Canadian, Nova Scotian Resident. I had two home and auto(1) insurance policies through a single, well known, broker. One property and car insurance policy were combined under one insurance company and my other property under a separate insurance company. The home under a separate insurance company was insured and paid regularly with no hiccups for over 5 years, the auto even longer, and the second property only a year but auto was combined with it when it was setup. Approx. 7 months after setting up a new home insurance policy for my newly purchased, second property, my insurance company contacted me to inform that there could potentially be savings by putting both properties and auto under one insurance provider and that they would look into it and get back to me.

    I had paid my insurance in advance for both properties and auto, approx. 3 months before the anniversary date, my payments for all three stopped for 3 months, then a large lump sum was taken from my account. I contacted the broker to ask what the changes were and why a large lump sum was withdrawn to which I was told both my properties and auto were now under one insurer and 3 months worth of payments were extracted. The 3 months they charged for were for months I had already paid in full for and the broker informed me I would receive credit back for the overlapping payments as they had gone ahead and setup all my policies under one provider (without asking permission or notifying me aside from saying they “would look into it”). I never received compensation for those 3 months already paid for and 4 months after the lump sum coming out of my account (and the new monthly amount reflecting a consoldiated payment for the three policies) the insurance company again contacts me to say I owe the full amount for one of my properties. The reason they stated was because my insurance for that property was cancelled (with no claims or missed payments on either property or auto) and even though the policy is cancelled the broker still pays the insurance provider to maintain coverage.

    Now, I try to stay fairly educated with processes and procedures but this has totally confused me. I paid twice for insurance coverage for 3 months, received no compensation and 4 months after apparent changes I’m told something completely different about the changes that were made to my policies and asked to pay the full annual amount for a home insurance policy. I have told the broker I did not request that one of my home policies be cancelled, was informed everything was consolidated, had a consistent payment record with no claims filed for any of my policies, and to indicate that I owe the full amount for home insurance after being a client for 5 years was absurd and if it was cancelled I would find insurance coverage elsewhere. This resulted in the broker informing me I would be responsible for paying for a years worth of cancelled home insurance and if I refused to pay it they would involve a collection agency.

    This seems like a highway robbery bully tactic that I’m not giving into and questioning what can be done without paying out more money to involve a lawyer. Any suggestions to this situation would be greatly appreciated (As I have not been able to find a similar situation to this through any forums on google anywhere). Thanks in advance.

  9. Brix

    Our broker was informed that I would cancel my policy due to I cannot continue paying. She said I have to make a written request to cancel the policy stating the real reason, so I did. and return all the documents she gave. Within 1 month, she informed me that our insurance policy cannot be cancelled and I should pay the monthly dues. What can I do about this?

  10. Jessica

    Hello,
    The policy with my current company expires July 19 (tomorrow). I’ve already obtained replacement insurance with another company as of this date. I didn’t send the cancellation letter until Wednesday, and it was delivered today. Should that be all I need to do to cancel? Their website said to use my online account to request a change to my policy. Should I do that as well or is the signed letter sufficient?

    TIA

  11. Claudio

    Normally i would say that you have done enough but you still have time to do the online thing. I’d so it as well.

  12. Claudio

    sorry for the delayed response, I haven’t had the opportunity to go into this. I would check the policy wording itself to see if there is something called “minimum retained premium” or retained premium.

    That will tell you what is refundable.

  13. Claudio

    sorry for the late reply. That seems odd on many levels. Not sure about the system there but under privacy laws, doesn’t your broker have to consult you and get approval for making changes to your policy like that?

    Hopefully you have all the documentation?

  14. Anne

    I just lost my home insurance due to non payment (I’m unemployed and my boyfriend is on disabilty) and I’m starting to panic because the insurance company – Intact – said that so one will insure me and my broker said that they might be able to find a company but it will cost me $$. I was paying 175 and fearing the worse. Also, I was told that I can lose my mortgage as well…help!!

  15. leroy

    i found a new cheaper auto insurance and now want to cancel my current one which I have been on for 7 months, do you think I will be charged for cancelling my policy.

  16. Claudio

    i don’t know what your policy says but you should be okay Remember that you lose any home and auto discounts if you move mid policy.

  17. Joyce

    I have had my auto insurance with intact and my car has developed mechanical problems with a huge repair bill.

    I have decided to get rid of the car and purchase a new one.
    I have gotten a really good quote from belair direct for the new car so i need to cancell my policy with intact mid-term.

    Just spoke with my broker to find out what the cancellation charges are and she goes.. I think its about one month worth of premium…(I pay $366/month!!!)

    So I call intact to find out what the cancellation fee is and i get told that they don’t deal with the public! they only deal with brokers.

    Now I’m stuck on this.
    How much is too much when it comes to cancellation fees mid-term? and what are my options.
    switching will save me $500 dollars plus give me much more coverage.

    I just need your advice on this.
    btw: broker is Mitchell & Whale Insurance Brokers.

  18. Claudio

    well firstly i’m not sure if you know but Belair is Intact insurance.

    Cancellation depends on how far into the policy you are. Premium, although spread monthly for our convenience, is earned by the insurance company much faster than that.

    Without knowing more details, i would have to defer to the broker who is simply calculating the estimated amount owing from the information they have.

    Auto insurance is very regulated and straightforward.

    when you spoke to Belair, did you quote get approved or was it simply done online? as i said, Belair is Intact insurance.

  19. Claudio

    While i commented privately on this, i wanted to make a comment on the site. When you have an insurance policy, it is so important to keep track of the payments. The companies do have to give you notice if you missed a payment and allow the opportunity for you to make it up (usually they will withdrawal it at the next scheduled withdrawal date).

    When canceled for non-payment, several things happen:

    a) its noted in your file – the insurance industry is small, it always comes out (in ontario, your auto policy insurance record shows cancel for non-pay)
    b) collections – if you owe money, they insurer or broker will do what it can to recoup the funds
    c) getting a new policy, you will have to declare why the last policy was canceled. You may be required to pay the full premium up front for a couple of years.

    if you are struggling to pay the bill, cancel the coverage and sort out your finances (unless its auto insurance which requires mandatory coverage)

  20. Lori

    We have been with the same house insurance company for several years. When it came up for renewal this spring, the premium quoted rose quite a bit. We were also contacted by an independent contractor, telling us our insurance company had asked her to do a high value home inspection (our insurance company never told us they were going to do this). Still we agreed to both the premium and inspection.

    When completed, the inspection report recommended a front stair railing. It was a recommendation, not a requirement. That was the only “repair” listed on the report. A month later, our premium jumped again – by $50 a month. This was after we had renewed.

    This week I got an email from the home inspection company, asking if we had done the “required” handrail.

    My two questions are: how can a premium change AFTER you have signed and agreed to a certain price for the term, and how can you change a recommendation to a requirement, also mid-term? At this point, this contract seems to be a contract only on our side; the insurance company seems to be able to change any of the terms whenever they feel like it, regardless of what was agreed on.

  21. jim

    Hi Claudio,

    I recently meet a problem with CAA. Last year, I had a one year car insurance with CAA and it expired on Aug 1st. In July, I received the reminder letter from CAA for renewing my insurance. But I found out that they raised my insurance payment too much. So I changed my insurance to the other company. Now the CAA charge me about $200, because I did not tell them I would not continue to get the insurance from CAA. They said their system automatelly renewed my insurance for one more year. If I cancel the insurance now, I should pay for it.
    What should I do for this situation please?

    Thank you so much!

  22. Claudio

    Hi Lori,

    Sorry for the late response. To answer your questions, yes premium can change. The premium quoted is often called an estimate. With change in risk, often comes change in premium. There could be many factors for this. One common factor is that a mid-term change causes a premium spike. That is simply because there is a change in premium for underwriting reasons (risk changes) and the additional premium isn’t spread out over 12 months like the initial premium rather, it is spread over the remaining months of the policy period.

    If you would like us to have a look at it in more detail, please contact me closer to renewal and we can asses for you.

  23. Claudio

    You pay the $200?

    No insurance company is a mind reader and they are mandated by law to maintain coverage unless on defaults on payment, one’s risk class changes significantly or one advises them in writing with proof of new coverage.

    You are in the wrong here my friend. Try to argue that coverage was in place and prove it with a policy (maybe they will not charge the $200) but otherwise, you should pay them because they will send it to collections.

  24. David Miller

    Hi Claudio,

    I happened to find your blog in my search for ‘termination for non-payment of premium’. I have quite the long story but I will sum it up as best I can. Not sure if you can comment or provide any assistance in my situation but at least if I bring this to your attention it may help others who read your blog from getting caught in the same situation.

    First off I have been a customer of Cooperators insurance for the past 15 years. Within the past 3 years I moved everything over, business, home and auto policies (4 total). My renewal for my business insurance was sent in August of 2013, my renewal for auto was sent in September of 2013. Both policies were roughly the same cost so I remembered paying the auto policy but I was mistaken, it was the home insurance I had paid. My renewal was NOT sent by registered mail and I was NOT sent any kind of reminder letter nor was I contacted by phone to be advised that my auto policy had lapsed. My auto policy expired on September 17th and on October 18th my wife was hit head-on by a drunk driver on the highway at 8:00 in the morning. She is alive but not in great shape. The drunk driver suffered no injuries. The drunk driver had no insurance, license or registration… probably hasn’t had it for years. When I reported the accident to Coop they informed me that I didn’t have coverage at the time of the accident. I was obviously shocked as I was never sent a termination letter or anything informing me of the missed payment. I pay annually by the way, not on a monthly pay plan. I live in the Yukon Territory and there isn’t any underinsured/uninsured motorist fund here. Basically this ‘accident’ has cost us thousands upon thousands of dollars to date… costs will keep on mounting, especially if my wife cannot return to work.

    Cooperators is insisting that the ‘offer to renew’ was only an offer and that it states on the policy that if payment is not received then the insurance is void. In your experience has this ever happened before? You stated above that “…for an insurance company to cancel your policy; they have to have registered letters giving ample notice that they are going to cancel the policy, reason and – if you OWE MONEY – a chance for you to pay it back and continue on your merry way.” Well, for my situation this is not the case! Or is it and they are just trying to put me off?? I have never missed a payment before, I have had auto insurance in effect since 1993 and I have NEVER made a claim in all this time. I have a 840 credit score and now I am being told by other insurance companies that I am not eligible for their products as I have had a history of ‘termination due to non-payment of premium’. Now I’m stuck staying with the same damn insurance company that has practically ruined my life. This is turning into an absolute nightmare, I would never wish this on anyone else.

    I would appreciate any comments/suggestions that you may have for me.

  25. Claudio

    first of all, as someone who was hit but a driver under the influence whilst driving, my heart goes out to your wife. I cannot speak to the Co-Operators rules and you may have to seek legal counsel for the damages that you are incurring.

    I do know that the renewal doesn’t have to be sent my registered letter but cancellation of a policy does (at least in Ontario). It makes no sense that they would take such a stand and with all the business that you have with them, it shocks me that no one followed up with you.

    My sincere advice – consult an insurance lawyer in your area who can properly advise you.

    Claudio

  26. RoseMarie Davies

    My late husband had an Insurance Policy, and I am now attempting to Cancel it. I did originally put in a claim, and sent them the information they requested, which the insist they never received. After 2yrs., I have told them I`m not putting in a claim anymore, and I just want them to cancel the Policy period. They keep insisting that I have to fill out the Claim forms.Is there anything I can do?

  27. Claudio

    Firstly, my condolences to your loss. My sincerest suggestion is to re-complete the claims form and submit it by registered letter so that someone has to sign off that they received it and you get confirmation of that receipt.

    C

  28. Tom

    Question: I had a tanning business, which I had insurance on the tanning beds. The policy I had through my agent does not auto-renew. I closed my business and sold the tanning beds July 1st, 2014. The insurance policy lapsed June, 2014 and we were not notified in writing that the policy was not renewing, nor that there was a lapse in coverage. Aside from that, the business is now closed. The insurance agent is demanding that I sign a Lost Policy & Cancellation Form, essentially indicating it is my fault the policy didn’t auto-renew. The fact is, I still have the original, un-executed copy of the insurance policy, that I choose not to renew because of selling the tanning beds and closing the business. I am not inclined t pay for several reasons:
    1. I was not aware the policy didn’t auto-renew and the agent sent me the original application to renew the policy that expired June 2014, which I did not execute or provide back to them (FYI they sent me this renewal application in July demanding immediate payment);
    2. I closed the business and no longer have the tanning beds.

    Am I correct not to pay? Just looking for direction. They want like $600 from me and the monthly policy is $190. The previous policy expired on June 2, 2014 (and we weren’t aware the policy didn’t automatically renew until they sent an urgent email demanding immediate payment and to sign a new renewal form to start a new policy). We weren’t aware until they sent us the application in the mail, hi-lited in areas where I need to sign.

    Any suggestions would be helpful.

  29. Claudio

    In my experience, a policy that requires an application for renewal cannot be renewed without signed instruction from the insured.

    The $600 is likely the minimum retained premium (non-refundable portion of the premium) that usually goes into effect as soon as the policy starts. If you did not give instructions to renew and didn’t sign the renewal application, I cannot see the leg that the broker is standing on.

    personally, they likely ordered the renewal and now owe the insurance company the $600. They likely also canceled for non payment.

    I understand that the broker was looking out for you but in my experience, you never renew a policy that requires a signed application without that signed application or at least written instruction to proceed by the insured.

    Its a tough situation without seeing all the communication emails and documents. If the policy doesn’t auto-renew, then someone had to order the renewal. If it wasn’t you, it was them. They are responsible for the payment to the insurer and would have to take you to small claims to claim it.

    if the policy is an auto-renewing policy and the form is just once requiring updated information, it is your responsibility to notify the company of your intent to non-renew.

    In the end, this just shows a serious breakdown in communication.

  30. Tom

    Thanks so much Claudio – I have been thinking those very thoughts as you described – I just needed some reassurance from someone qualified. I appreciate your expeditious reply and guidance in this regard.

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