Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insuran...

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Written by Rachael Brennan
Licensed Agent for 15 Years Rachael Brennan

Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager Chris Harrigan

UPDATED: Jun 21, 2022

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Key takeaways...

  • Car insurance can always be changed going forward, but not retroactively
  • You can cancel and get a new policy mid-term or change insurers after your policy has expired
  • A car accident is going to almost always result in an increase in premium

One of the worst things that you can ever experience as the owner of a vehicle is that of a car accident. Car accidents can cause severe damage to your automobile, to property, as well as to your own health and the wellness of others involved.

Possible damage is where car insurance comes into play and why it is so important to have quality insurance coverage that meets your needs and ensures that you are indemnified should such an unfortunate event occur.

As a consumer, though, does having a car accident mean that you are stuck with your insurance carrier at the time of the accident for the long haul?

Do you still have the opportunity, after an accident, to actually change your car insurance?

What drives car insurance first and foremost is the coverage period, the named drivers on the policy, as well as the covered automobiles. When you look at your car insurance policy, all of this information is likely going to be on the declarations page.

The declarations page is where you will see your limits, deductibles, and all of that coverage information in one, succinct place.

When in a car accident, the declarations page is the best spot to look after the accident occurs.

if you are concerned about the possibility of accidents and want to have the best auto insurance coverage and rates, enter your ZIP code above to start comparison shopping!

Changing Car Insurance


The car insurance policy that you have in effect at the time of the car accident is going to be the insurance policy that exists for your actual claim. There really is no getting around that.

The coverage that you have, your deductible, and everything else in your car insurance policy that was in place when the unfortunate event occurred is going to be the one still in place when you go to file the claim.

You really do not have the ability to retroactively change your car insurance policy or coverage to before the accident occurred, for your own benefit.

As a car insurance provider, the premium that the carriers calculate is based on:

  • The risk exposure that you present for the life of the policy
  • Taking into account your coverage limits
  • Deductibles
  • The time the period is in effect, etc.

If you could change what the premium is based on, it would basically make the whole insurance underwriting process pointless.

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Switching After the Expiration Date

What you do have the power to do as a consumer is to switch your car insurance policy to a new carrier after your current policy has expired.

Say you have a policy that is effective through December 31st of this year. You have decided that after the policy expires, you want to get a new car insurance carrier.

You are completely within your right to go out, get insurance quotes, and switch to a new carrier once your current policy has run its course.

The other option is that you do have the ability to cancel your current car insurance policy and then start up a new policy with a new carrier.

Getting a policy with a new carrier is another option in the event that you want to change mid-term.

The one thing you will not be able to do though is to make your new policy retroactive before the accident occurred. In turn, you would create duplicate, overlapping coverage.

Having duplicate, overlapping coverage for an accident is known as unjust enrichment, is against the law, and can result in your claim being denied by both insurers.

The Impact on the Premium


The one thing to remember is that whenever you switch to a new car insurance carrier after an accident or even renew your current policy with the carrier you have now, you can expect your premium to increase.

Premium is going to be based on the exposure you present to an insured and when you have an accident, it goes on your driving record and makes you a riskier driver to insure.

Being labeled a high-risk driver is going to result in a surcharge on your premium, making it more expensive that renewal year no matter which insurance carrier you choose to go with.

As the years go by, the surcharge will drop off little by little until it is gone. As a consumer, you certainly have the power to change your car insurance after an accident occurs.

Though you will not be able to alter the coverage at the time of the accident, you can shop around so that you have proper coverage and a premium you are comfortable with for the period subsequent to that accident occurring.

You always want to do price comparisons as well after an accident, when your policy is up for renewal, as some insurers may be more comfortable with your risk exposure than others and offer your lower premiums.

Start comparison shopping today with our FREE online quote tool by entering your ZIP code below!


  1. https://www.myinjuryattorney.com/law-blog/car-accident-affect-life/
  2. https://www.thebalance.com/what-is-an-insurance-declaration-page-2645728
  3. https://www.iii.org/article/what-determines-price-my-auto-insurance-policy
  4. https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2011/05/top-10-tips-for-finding-the-right-car-insurance-policy/index.htm
  5. https://www.thebalance.com/how-long-will-i-be-a-high-risk-driver-527279
  6. https://www.mass.gov/ocabr/insurance/vehicle/auto-insurance/safe-driver-plan/faqs-surcharge-appeal.html