It's possible to get an accurate car insurance quote with an open claim — find out how to get rates, find coverage, and switch companies.
Why you can trust The Zebra
Yes — as long as the accident happened when your auto insurance policy was active, canceling it afterward will not affect your ability to file a claim. Most auto insurance companies allow policyholders to cancel coverage at any time, though you may be subject to a cancellation fee. Moving to a new car insurance company will not impact the claim with your previous insurer.
However, having an open auto insurance claim can have ramifications when you try to switch insurance companies or make changes to your current policy. Let’s run through some common scenarios and some best practices on how to handle auto insurance with an open claim.
Switching insurance companies — even with an open claim — is as simple as shopping around, either online or by reaching out to an insurance agent. If the claim doesn't make you ineligible with your new company, you can usually begin coverage the same day.
You can switch car insurance companies after you’ve filed a claim. However, the open claim will be settled under your prior policy and handled by your previous insurer. Although you’re transferring your coverage from one policy to another, the claim will stand as-is and the payout would come from the company insuring you at the time of the claim. For example, if you were involved in a total-loss accident on June 21 and canceled your policy on June 30, your claim would still be handled through the provider of your old policy: after all, you were carrying coverage when the incident occurred.
You should keep in contact with your previous company to ensure the claim is resolved. Once the claim is satisfied, any future claims will be settled by your new insurer.
While you can always switch insurance companies while carrying an open claim, it could be tougher to change your coverage while staying with the same insurer. If you get into an at-fault accident but only have liability insurance, you won't be able to add full coverage afterward that would cover damages to your own vehicle. While your liability insurance will provide coverage for the other individual in the accident, any damage to your vehicle won't be covered without collision coverage.
Insurance companies don't allow customers to backdate coverage, which would essentially be insurance fraud. To avoid situations in which you could be left uncovered, carry all the coverage you might need at all times. Other changes — such as adding a vehicle or making changes to vehicles not in the claims process — should be fine.
Although the point of maintaining an active car insurance policy is to be able to utilize it when necessary, having claims on your insurance record can be costly. A simple but often-overlooked rule for car insurance is that you should only file a claim if the value of the damage exceeds the premium increase you would suffer as a result of the claim. That said, if you already have a claim on your record, this is a moot point.
Let's assess some car insurance options for an insurance customer driver profile with an at-fault accident claim on their record.
After a car accident, it can be difficult to find affordable insurance coverage. In 2020, the average yearly rate increase after an at-fault collision claim was $658. Take a look at some of the biggest insurance providers featured below to see the average increase in insurance costs.
|Insurance Company||6-month Premium — No Claims||6-Month Premium — 1 At-Fault Accident Claim|
The overall difference between an average car insurance premium without a claim versus the premium with claim(s) is $658. Most auto insurance companies will rate the claim on your insurance record for three years. So that $658 annual average hike may add up to an overall increase of more than $2,000, based on your driving history. And that's just the additional cost on top of your existing premium. Insurers that are most forgiving after an at-fault accident tend to be USAA and State Farm, so you may want to consider them first if you are looking for a new policy.
Except for adding coverage for a vehicle currently in the claims process, the way to buy car insurance with an open claim isn’t much different than purchasing, switching, or changing car insurance without a claim. You can still shop around and cancel your coverage. Just remember to keep your previous company’s information handy if you do plan on canceling, as your new company will not be able to provide support for this prior claim. If you are ready to shop around for car insurance The Zebra's online comparison tool can help — just enter your ZIP code below to get started.
The Zebra is not an insurance company. We publish data-backed, expert-reviewed resources to help consumers make more informed insurance decisions.
The Zebra’s insurance content is written and reviewed for accuracy by licensed insurance agents.
The Zebra’s insurance content is not subject to review or alteration by insurance companies or partners.
The Zebra’s editorial team operates independently of the company’s partnerships and commercialization interests, publishing unbiased information for consumer benefit.
The auto insurance rates published on The Zebra’s pages are based on a comprehensive analysis of car insurance pricing data, evaluating more than 83 million insurance rates from across the United States.