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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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Car insurance is one bill that cannot be completely cut from a household budget. As long as you own a vehicle, you need to carry liability insurance. If you want that vehicle to be repaired when it’s damaged, you will need to purchase full coverage auto insurance as well. The more coverage your policy includes, the more expensive the premium will be. While it’s tempting to lower your coverage to the bare minimum in order to cut costs on a policy, you may sometimes need full coverage.
Luckily, you are able to change your coverage at any time in order to suit your needs. While most insurance policies renew every six months, you can always update the policy midway through a renewal. The cost of the changes will be prorated onto your existing policy.
Why change coverage midway through the year?
If you rarely drive your vehicle, you may not need to carry full coverage auto insurance. Perhaps the vehicle is a secondary car that you use only on weekends, or maybe you keep it stored at your summer house. If a vehicle spends very little time on the road, it does not need as much insurance as a car that’s in constant use.
Sometimes your driving habits change, though, and your coverage should be updated to reflect the change. For example, if you keep your vehicle at your lake house and don’t drive during the winter, you might choose to add full coverage to the policy during the summer months when you are at that property.
In other cases, seasonal variations may necessitate a coverage update. You might decide that you only need comprehensive coverage during hurricane season when a vehicle is most likely to sustain damage. Or, you might choose to add collision coverage during the winter when ice and snow make a car accident more likely.
Use Caution when Changing Coverage!
Whenever you update your coverage, the new policy is available from the date of the change forward. This means that the coverage applied to a claim is based on the date the accident occurred, not to when the claim was filed. Therefore, if you have preexisting damage on your vehicle, you cannot file a claim for those repairs unless the coverage existed on the policy at the time the damage occurred. Changing your policy to add coverage after an accident has occurred is insurance fraud.
If you file a claim very shortly after changing your policy coverage, your insurance company will probably send your claim to the special investigations unit (SIU) to investigate for fraud. Claims determined to be potentially fraudulent will be denied, and your insurance policy may be canceled.
How do I change my car insurance coverage?
The easiest way to change your insurance coverage is to log in to the insurance company’s website. If you are able to pay your bills online, you should be able to view and change your insurance policy from the website as well. Usually, the site will allow you to see what a policy change would cost before committing to that change; this way you can test multiple coverage combinations and find the right one for your needs.
If you’re not comfortable with web technology or if your insurance company does not offer this option, you can call the company to make policy changes over the phone. The representative will be happy to discuss your options with you and help you choose the best policy coverage for your needs. Be aware, however, that some insurance representatives are paid on a commission basis, so they might try to sell you more coverage than you need.
You may want to deal with your local agent instead, especially if you have an existing relationship with him. An agent is able to discuss your coverage in detail and can help you choose the right policy. Agents are also especially adept at finding discounts and ways to reduce your rates while maintaining the best coverage.
No matter how you choose to reduce your coverage, be sure not to allow the policy to drop below the state minimums. Some states require you to carry uninsured motorist coverage, while others may have a high limit of liability that you must carry. Failing to carry the necessary amount of insurance can get you in trouble with the state, so you should always maintain at least the minimum required coverage for your area.