I have compiled some common questions about coverage cancellations and agency changes. As consumers we experience occasional changes that affect the insurance policies we purchase. It is common place for insurance companies to acquire their competitor and many other coverage and customer service issues to occur that directly relate to our individual policies. It leaves us wondering if we can return to a former company or agent. Can we move our coverage anytime we want to? Here are a few of the most common questions:
Q: Can I switch insurance companies when I have an open claim?
A: You have the right to switch insurance companies any time you want. Even if you have an open claim with another insurance company, you can elect to switch your coverage. Keep in mind that your current claim will not transfer to the new insurance company, though, and your old insurer will still be the one that handles the claim until it has been resolved. They cannot default on a settlement just because you are no longer insured by them, unless there is some reason the claim would have been denied anyway, such as fraudulent information in the claim.
Q: I am afraid that switching companies will cause unwanted repercussions.
A: For the insurance companies, a customer switching to another company is a regular occurrence, and they have no reason to try to force you to stay with their company against your will. There are no added fees or penalties for changing companies, and the only role your old insurer will have to play is to cancel the coverage when your new policy goes into effect.
Q: What do I need to do if my Homeowners Insurance is cancelled because my insurance agent is no longer working with my insurance company?
A: If your insurance company decides to non-renew your Connecticut home insurance policy, they are required to notify you of such at least ninety days before the date of your current policy’s expiration. Ask the insurance carrier for the name of another local agency that could service your policy if you want to maintain your policy with the carrier. Find out if the carrier is down sizing their agency network or has decided to limit new business growth for strategic reasons.
Q: Do I have a contract with my insurance agent/agency or is that between me and the insurance company? I want to make sure I notify the correct party if I elect to switch my insurance agent.
A: Ultimately, the insurance contract is between the customer and the insurance company, regardless of how it was sold. Most reputable agents want to do what's in the best interest of a client. If you attempt to make an amicable change, you might avoid running into any type of problem. If the agent is not willing to satisfy their client, then the customer can appeal to the insurance company to change their agent of record. It's also important to never cancel a policy without sufficient notice or to simply cease paying premiums, as these moves could adversely affect your credit score and void your insurance. NOTE: In some cases, your new company may help you cancel your policy with your existing company.
Q: Will I have to worry about a coverage gap if I transfer my professional liability insurance to a new insurance company?
A: Provide a copy of your current coverage to the new company representative so they can review your policy effective dates, the form of coverage you currently have and the limits of liability you currently carry. An agent with professional liability knowledge will know exactly what has to be done to set up a new policy for you without jeopardizing your continuation of coverage. Medical malpractice policies available here in CT will pick up and carry over your prior acts date unless you have extenuating circumstances which you should discuss with the new agent. For example; dentists that were insured by the CSDA’s endorsed professional liability company can return and will be given credit for past years of coverage. This means you could already be eligible for a free tail policy when you retire eliminating that gap also.
Q: Do I have to switch my insurance policy if my agent wants me to sign a letter moving me to a new insurance agency or company?
A: No. It is not uncommon for insurance agents to move to a new insurance agency for employment reasons, acquisitions, or mergers. Often your agent may roll your policy to a new company and again it is your choice as the policyholder to agree to the new terms or request that nothing be changed. Do some background research on any insurance company or agency that you are being asked to consider switching to:
1.Read online reviews.
2.Check ratings from the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
3.Find out what their customer service is like.
4.Do they have any endorsements from associations you belong to?
If they do not provide prompt and helpful responses when you are scouting them out, they are unlikely to be easy to deal with during a claim. Make a list of your priorities so you know what to look for. These may be some of the items that are important to you:
1.Cost and coverage bundles.
2.Tailor customer service for your specialty and specialized claims service for your specialty.
3.The company’s focus on social responsibility.