If my previous car insurance company has sent me a collection letter for a past due premium on a policy that I cancelled, isthis legal?

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If my previous car insurance company has sent me a collection letter for a past due premium on a policy that I cancelled, isthis legal?

Last year I change carriers. My former policy was paid quarterly. I change carriers after receiving a statement for the 4th quarter premium. At this time, I asked my insurer to review my premium to remain competitive. They were unable to do so. In the same conversation with my agent I advised her that I would be changing companies. Subsequently, I did not pay the premium and I received a notice of cancellation. Now they want me to pay $240 as a past due amount. Isn’t insurance always paid in advance?

Asked on August 31, 2011 California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Whether it is paid in advance or not is not itself the issue. Whether the premiums are paid in advance, concurrently, or even late, the insurer is entitled to the appropriate amount of money for the time period covered. To oversimplify: say that the insurance is $1,200 per year. Say that you cancel after 14 months to switch companies. The total due is $1,400 (since the number I picked means the pro rata monthly rate is $100/month; coverage was provided for 14 months). If the insurer has received $1,400, they have been paid in full; if they received less than that, they may sue for the amount owed. You need to look at your policy and your payment history and see how much you had to pay, based on the date you canceled, vs. how much in total you paid; that will tell you if you owe anything.


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