How to Switch Car Insurance Companies After Filing a Claim
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Assuming all of the papers on your end have been valid and completed as necessary, switching insurance with an open claim in the works shouldn't affect the validity of that claim. The short answer to this question is that your claim will be unaffected. Just because you're not going ahead in business with them doesn't mean they've lost their responsibility to you when you were a customer.
Switching car insurance companies mid-claim may complicate your situation in other ways, but future plans will not invalidate their past obligations. However, the mere process of getting the promised insurance reparations may be enough that a customer's view of his current provider is soured. This post-claim switchout is not unheard of, and it can be worthwhile to consider this specific situation from multiple viewpoints before making a choice.
Why switch companies with an open claim?
It's a common thing for insurance customers to feel they only find out their insurer's true colors once an accident occurs. Things don't always fare as well as expected. Because insurance claims are handled on a case-by-case basis, the outcome (or delayed lack thereof) can be enough to impel someone to seek out new options.
Free insurance quotes are available for customers on the lookout. With the event of an accident, you can take the mishap to your indirect advantage by using it as a more indicative "real world" comparison of the rates and deals between companies. In any case, the open claim that was filed will remain in the hands of the provider you were with when the accident occurred and was reported. Your old insurer may be less-than-desirable in the way they're handling things, but it remains their legal obligation to see the job through.
You may be confident in your decision to take your business elsewhere in the future. Do not, however, change insurers just because you want a different company handling your current claim. With the possible exception of very special circumstances, a new insurance company is not going to take the financial burden of their competition. In other words, at least for that claim, you're basically stuck with the one you initially claimed with. "Double-claiming," as it's called, is a recipe for disaster. Attempting to file the same claim with multiple insurers constitutes fraud in the Criminal Code.
Don't be too rash in rushing out the door
Just because past claims are going to be safely handled doesn't mean you suddenly have no use for insurance in the present. You shouldn't cancel out of your insurance policy prematurely. In certain states with an insurance mandate, the old insurer may need proof that you've fallen in with a new provider before they're allowed to let you cancel. Do your best to avoid a "gap" in your coverage, unless you know you won't be driving for a set amount of time.
Human psychology and personal biases might suggest that something like an accident only happens once in a given set amount of time. Lightning rarely strikes the same place twice, after all. However, just because you recently had an accident you've submitted a claim or doesn't mean you suddenly have a lower risk of getting into another predicament in the near future. If you cancel and get into an accident, there won't be any "take backs," and most surely not on the insurer's part.
Can an open claim affect your premiums with a new insurer?
The short answer: Yes.
Insurance companies trade notes on the history and experience of customers. An open claim may leave you looking like you're more of a financial liability than you're worth. This is especially true in instances where you have been cited as the blame in the claim. Despite their legal imperative, it's important to remember that insurance companies are out to draw a profit. The likelihood of affecting your search for a new insurer will depend on the specific circumstances of your claim. In the event that you have reason to believe it could be an issue, it may be best to hold out with your current insurer until the dust has settled.