There are many reasons you might want to close the door on your home insurance policy – you might be moving to a new city, downsizing homes or switching insurers because they’re not a right fit.
What you need to know
You can cancel your home insurance at any time you want.
You don't have to wait until you get your renewal notice or give a reason for cancelling.
Typically, you'll only pay a small cancellation fee of around $30-$40 and you'll get back all your pre-paid premiums.
If you've decided to cancel your home insurance, you should start by calling your insurance provider. You'll need to be the named policyholder in order to cancel your contract. Your insurer should tell you if you need to contact them in writing about your cancellation.
If they do, be ready to include the following information:
- Your name
- Your policy number
- The address of the insured home
- An address for them to send any refund
- Your contact number
- Your signature.
When you contact your insurer, they should tell you about any fees you have to pay. Bear in mind that stopping your direct debit won't cancel your home insurance policy. You'll need to tell your provider directly that you want to end your contract.
Yes. If you decide to cancel for any reason, all you have to do is let your insurer know. There might be a different way to cancel your policy depending on how you’re paying:
- If you're billed monthly. If you pay your premium on a monthly basis, you’ll be required to finish out the month you’ve already paid for but your policy will end after that. You may have to pay a small fee.
- If you pay annually. If you’ve already paid for the year in advance, you’ll be required to finish out the current month. Your policy will end after that and you’ll receive a refund for the months you didn’t use. You may have to pay a small fee.
- If you’re still in the cooling-off period. If you cancel within the cooling-off period (usually anywhere from 14 to 21 days) and you haven’t made a claim, you’ll receive a full refund of everything you’ve paid.
You won’t pay any fee if you cancel within your cooling-off period and you haven’t made any claims. If you cancel outside your cooling-off period, you’ll most likely pay a cancellation fee of around $30-$40. Plus, you need to pay any government taxes still owed (this will apply whether you are paying monthly or you’ve paid annually).
Here is a list of cancellation fees for a bunch of leading Australian home insurance companies.
What's a cooling-off period?
A cooling-off period is a time during which you can get out of your contract, without being charged, if you change your mind. For new home insurance plans, this will usually be 14 or 21 days after you first take out your cover. After this period, you'll need to pay a cancellation fee to cancel your contract.
There is no situation where you can’t cancel your policy. As long as you let your insurer know you want to cancel and you pay the relevant fees, you should have no problem cancelling.
If you cancel within your cooling-off period and you have made a claim, you can still cancel but you won’t receive any refund for the period you were insured.
Besides the small cancellation fee, you may face some downsides for cancelling early. Here’s where you could run into trouble:
- Being without cover. If you cancel one policy with the intention of purchasing a new one, you could get into trouble if you forget to sign up for the new one. If something happened to your home during that time, the consequences could be very costly.
- Losing your served waiting periods. When you sign up for a new policy, you usually have to wait 48-72 hours before you can claim for storms, floods and bushfire. Your new provider might waive this requirement if you’ve already served the waiting period with your previous insurer, but only if you switch within a certain amount of time.
- You might end up with a worse policy. If the only reason for cancelling is to sign up for a shiny new policy that promises a lower premium, you’ll want to make sure the new policy still offers enough cover for your needs.
No. You can’t transfer your home insurance to someone else because the insurer needs to rework details of the cover based on the new person’s individual circumstances.
Let’s say someone purchases your house and needs home insurance. The insurer will need to recalculate the new owner’s premiums based on more than just the house’s value. For example, they’ll want to know if the new owner has a history of making home insurance claims, whether they have a criminal record and whether they represent a bigger risk based on their age.
They could end up with a vastly different premium, so it’s necessary for them to start from square one if they want to insure the house.
Yes, many insurers will allow you to transfer your policy to a new home without paying any fees. If your insurer offers this benefit, it will probably come with the following conditions:
- You’ll need to give them details about your new home as soon as you’ve entered into contract to buy it.
- The insurer must agree to insure the new home based on these details.
- You will need to pay any additional premium if necessary.
Insurers who offer this will usually also allow you to transfer your contents insurance to the new home. If they offer “contents in transit” protection, they may also cover your belongings while you are transporting them from the old house to the new one.
Yes. If your policy is about to expire or you don’t want to pay a fee, you can wait until your policy end date and simply contact the insurer and cancel it before it renews.
Just prior to your end date, many insurers will send you a renewal invitation spelling out any new terms for the coming year.
If you don’t respond to the renewal invitation, some insurers will automatically renew your policy under the new terms. This is done to protect you so that you don’t end up being uninsured, but you’ll also get a brand new cooling-off period of 14-21 days, depending on the insurer. If you cancel during this time, you’ll get a full refund.
If you’re set on switching to a different insurer or you no longer require home insurance (for example, you’re moving overseas), cancelling is your best bet.
If you’re just trying to score a better deal, you should consider talking to your insurer. You might be able to reduce your premiums by doing the following:
- Increasing your excess. This is the amount you pay out-of-pocket every time you make a claim. The more you agree to pay, the lower your premium will be.
- Removing unneeded options. Your policy may include options you don’t need. For example, if you have flood protection but you don’t live in a floodplain, you should consider removing it.
- Taking out a different form of cover. If you happen to be in the market for a different form of insurance like car insurance or life insurance, your insurer might give you a multi-product discount if you buy the new policy with them.
Can a home insurer cancel my policy without consent?
According to The Financial Rights Legal Centre, there are some circumstances when insurers may cancel your policy during the period of your insurance. This could be if your provider receives "additional information provided by you that increases the insurer's risk to an unacceptable level". Another time they may do so is if you've failed to keep up with your premiums.
To dispute a policy cancellation, it's best to lodge a complaint with The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA).
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