Can they cancel my car insurance for a late payment?
Most insurance companies typically offer options regarding the payment of premiums. Almost all companies issue policies with a 6 month term. The premium can be paid in one payment or multiple payments depending upon the selected payment plan. Generally, the longer the payment period, the greater the premium actually paid.
Some of the insurance companies even offer monthly payments. These carriers typically are an option for minimal coverage low cost options for coverage. Unfortunately, people who select these options for coverage are the ones who typically run into problems with late premium payments because of tight budgets which forced the selection of a monthly payment option in the first place.
Pennsylvania law provides the consumer with some protection here. Under Pennsylvania law, the insured is entitled to advance notice that his/her policy will be cancelled unless the premium payment is received by the carrier. Typically, the insurer will send out this “notice of cancellation” a day or two after the premium’s due date. Under regulations in PA Code, the cancellation date must be no earlier than 17 days after the date of the cancellation notice. The actual form for this notice is included in the regulations. The failure to provide a timely and adequate notice of cancellation can invalidate the purported cancellation of the policy.
The problem is especially complicated when the insured is on a monthly billing cycle. In order to comply with the regulations, these carriers will actually try to combine the bill with a notice of cancellation. There are many ways to challenge the cancellation notices under these circumstances and one of our car accident lawyers can help.
I recently had a case where a company sent out its bill/notice indicating the policy payment was due by June 29. This was one day earlier than the previous month because of the fact there were 31 days in May. On June 30, the insured’s payment was received, however, the insured was in an accident early on June 30. The carrier denied coverage, indicating the policy was cancelled June 30 and reinstated on July 1.
There was no valid cancellation notice provided under the law and when threatened with bad faith, the carrier provided coverage and even paid reasonable attorney’s fees for forcing the insured to retain counsel to contest the denial of coverage. If you should find yourself in such a situation, gather the last couple of months bills/notices and your policy and immediately schedule a free consultation with one of our Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers. You may still be entitled to coverage.
As a final word of advice, do not select the convenient monthly premium payment plan. This option is not only the most expensive, but it is also the one which can most easily lead to an unwanted cancellation of your policy.
Not only is the cancellation of coverage extremely serious in itself, it means you will have limited tort status despite any full tort selection in your policy. Also, if you are uninsured for 30 days or longer, your carrier can charge you “high risk premium rate,” which is the highest premium rate permissible by law.
Our lawyers can help.
If your car insurance company is saying your policy was cancelled after an auto accident, our personal injury attorneys can help. Call one of our Pennsylvania lawyers today for a free consultation: 814-452-6232.