The Best Time to Buy Insurance

How to Maximize Your Savings

woman filling out form for car insurance


Kittisak Jirasittichai EyeEm/ Getty Images

The best time to shop for a winter coat at a retail store is in the spring; stores have not yet cleared out their inventory of this year’s items but are desperately trying to, and the prices reflect that.

The worst time to shop for a winter coat is during a blizzard. As any big-city dweller will tell you, the worst and most expensive time to buy an umbrella is during a rainstorm. On a happier note, the best time to buy Halloween, Valentines, or Christmas candy is the day after the holiday.

But what about insurance? Does it really matter when you buy or renew your insurance policy? The best time to shop for insurance actually depends on your current policy and the reason you would like to switch. Shopping for insurance is a little different than shopping for new clothes or furniture. Holiday sales and last-chance deals are not available for insurance.

Begin Shopping Once Renewal Is Received

The date your policy is scheduled to renew is the best time to switch insurance. Renewal paperwork usually comes in the mail approximately 30 to 45 days in advance of your actual renewal date.

Once you receive your renewal paperwork, you know what your future rates are going to be. If you are seeing a major change in your insurance rates, it may signal that it’s time to buy insurance through a different carrier or at least contact your agent. Begin shopping for insurance once you review your renewal paperwork.

Perks to Shopping Ahead of Renewal

Shopping for car insurance before your policy's renewal date has its benefits.

  • You will have the most recent copy of your declarations page.
  • You make a clean break from your current insurance company by switching at the renewal.
  • Shopping ahead of your renewal date could potentially get you an extra discount.

Your declarations page is important when shopping for insurance because it verifies your current coverage. The declarations page provides proof of prior insurance, which is required to get a preferred insurance rate. Also, it allows an accurate comparison between your current coverage and the quotes you receive. If you do not have a current copy of your declarations page, get one from your agent before shopping.

Switching at your renewal gives you a clean break from your prior insurance company. As long as you haven’t made recent changes to the policy, nobody should owe anyone money. Insurance companies also often reward clients who shop ahead of time with an advanced quote discount.

Typically, this discount applies if you shop more than eight days ahead of your switch date. Shopping ahead portrays you as a responsible client, which is exactly what insurance companies want to see in a potential client.

Shop Anytime

You can switch your insurance at any point in time. For instance, if you are frustrated with your current agent because nobody ever answers the phone or returns your call, now might be the best time for you to shop for insurance.

Most of the time, as long as you have had your insurance policy for a few months, a penalty fee is not charged for switching midterm. You will be refunded any unused premium within a few weeks of cancellation.

Tips for Shopping Midterm

Shopping for car insurance midterm can be tricky. Make sure to follow these guidelines to keep it as simple as possible.

  • Keep your payments up to date.
  • Have a good payment date in mind.
  • Give a little more than a week's spread between shopping and switching.

Keep payments up to date with your current insurance company, because if you fall behind and then cancel the policy, you are still responsible for the days you were insured. It can be a hassle getting the last payment into the company and if it goes overlooked it could go to collections. Having your payment current makes for a smoother transition.

Switching insurance midterm gives you the opportunity to pick the day of the month you'd like your payments to be due. Insurance companies typically set your due date as the date of purchase.

For example, if you start your new policy on the third of the month, the third will be your new due date. It is possible to change your payment date with most companies, but why not kill two birds with one stone and preselect your payment date and starting your policy at that time?

Even though shopping for insurance may not be your idea of fun, it can really pay off. The best time to shop for car insurance is shortly after receiving your renewal paperwork. But don't let that stop you from switching midterm if the situation warrants a quick switch.