How quickly do changes I make to my policy go into effect?

Changes you make to your policy will take effect right away in most cases. To make policy changes quickly, either call your insurance company or use the website or mobile app. There will likely be a change in your rates when you make changes to your policy, so ask the insurance company to see how much it will be before you finalize the changes. In some cases, switching insurance companies may be cheaper than changing your policy.

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Tonya Sisler has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of South Carolina in Journalism and has worked for 15+ years in management. She has also completed a proofreading certification and is currently a professional writer.

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Brad Larson has been in the insurance industry for more than a dozen years. He started out as a claims adjuster for a national carrier. He has since switched to the agency side of the business. Brad is licensed in all P&C lines.

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Reviewed by Brad Larsen
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Brad Larsen

UPDATED: Mar 14, 2022

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Things to Know

  • Most changes to a car insurance policy go into effect immediately
  • You can make changes to your policy online, over the phone, or even by mail
  • Changes to your car insurance policy can be made at any time


If you need to make a change to your car insurance policy, you might be wondering, “how quickly do changes I make to my policy go into effect?” The good news is that if you make changes over the phone or online, they should go into effect right away.

You can make changes to your insurance policy whenever you like, even midway through the term. If you’re not sure how changing car insurance mid-policy works or when and how changes will take effect, we can help. Read on to learn everything from who has the authority to make changes to an insurance contract to how much changes affect your rates.

Before you read more about when changes you make to your insurance take effect, consider how much a change in insurance provider could save you. Enter your ZIP code above to compare free quotes from top car insurance companies near you.

How long does it take for changes I make to my policy to take effect?

Thanks to online and mobile account access, it’s easier and faster than ever to make changes to your car insurance policy. However, you may find that some insurance companies have limits on what changes can be made online and may require you to call customer service to take care of certain changes.

Fortunately, changes made over the phone go into effect just as quickly and in most cases your change should be complete before you hang up.

Some of the changes you can make that will go into effect right away include:

  • Adding or removing a car
  • Adding or removing a driver
  • Increasing coverage limits
  • Adding additional coverage like comprehensive, collision, or roadside assistance

There are some changes that might take a little longer to go into effect if the insurance company needs additional information to complete the change, such as driver or vehicle details.

If you’re not sure how to make the changes yourself, or if you have questions about the changes you want to make, you should call customer service rather than trying to make the changes online.

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Changing a Car Insurance Policy After an Accident

You can change your car insurance policy at any time, and that includes after an accident. However, it’s important that you know that coverage can’t be backdated.

You can’t go back and add coverage to pay for an accident after you’ve already been in the accident.

So, if you’re in an at-fault accident and you didn’t have collision coverage at the time, you can’t add it after the fact and expect that your accident will be covered. The coverage you add does take effect right away, but it doesn’t apply to claims that took place before you made the change.

It’s best to make sure you have the coverage you need before you actually need it. Attempting to backdate insurance can be seen as insurance fraud, and most companies won’t do it except in two situations:

  • You have sold a car and can provide evidence of the date you sold it
  • You bought a new car and already have an active policy

Your insurance company provides what’s commonly known as a “grace period” for adding a new car to an existing policy. However, contrary to popular belief, it’s not free coverage. You’ll be covered on that new car as a courtesy until you have time to contact your insurance company and get it added. The coverage (and new rate) will be backdated to the day you bought it, and you will be billed.

How much do changes I make to my policy cost?

How the changes affect your rates will depend on the type of change. Adding coverage or increasing limits will mean your rates will go up since you are now buying more coverage than you were before.

Adding a vehicle will also increase your rates, except in the rare situation where you are replacing one vehicle with another that is cheaper to insure.

If you’re adding a driver, the rate change will really depend on the driver. Adding a teen driver will cause an increase, while adding an older driver with a clean record might even mean a lower rate. That’s because rates are based on the risk a driver presents. A teen driver is a much higher risk than an older, more experienced driver.

Your insurance company can quote the changes for you and let you know the costs before you agree to the change.

Can you switch insurance at any time?

Whether it’s a question of “how to switch my insurance plan” or “how to switch my insurance company,” the answer is the same. You can change insurance at any time, whether it’s a policy change or a complete change of companies.

Bear in mind that you may not get a refund from the previous company unless you paid in advance for your coverage. Some companies also have fees or penalties for canceling mid-term. It’s a good idea to ask before you make a final decision.

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Can anyone else change my insurance policy?

Only you or a named insured on the policy can request changes. Your insurance company will have secutiry measures in place to make sure no one else can make changes. This includes passwords and security questions.

The insurance company itself may make changes to your policy, but will notify you of the change and the reason for the change.

Although the company that has the loan or lease on your car can require you to carry certain coverage, it can’t make changes to your policy. It can, however, take out a policy to protect its interests and charge you for it. Since that type of coverage is very expensive, it’s best to make any changes the lender requests right away.

Making Changes to Your Policy: The Bottom Line

You can make changes to your car insurance policy at any time, and those changes will go into effect immediately in most cases. Calling your insurance company or using the company website are the fastest ways to make policy changes.

Before you complete a policy change, make sure you know how much it will cost to avoid surprises. And, with that number in mind, you can compare rates elsewhere. Enter your ZIP code to see free car insurance quotes from top companies right now.

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