West Virginia (WV) laws governing the cancellation of automobile insurance policies provide detailed requirements insurers must follow before depriving an insured of coverage. In 2016, WV auto insurance cancellation laws were significantly amended by the legislature. This article covers car insurance cancellation laws in the Mountain State.
West Virginia law requires all vehicles to be covered by minimum amounts of automobile liability insurance. Drivers must carry proof of that insurance when they drive and can be heavily penalized if they fail to meet the requirements of the law.
What Are Legal Reasons for WV Auto Insurance Cancellation?
W. Va. Code § 33-6A-1 provides the only allowable reasons insurance companies may cancel automobile liability insurance in West Virginia. Under that law, cancellation is only permitted if the insured:
· Fails to pay policy premiums timely;
· Obtains the policy "through material misrepresentation";
· Violates a material term of the policy;
· Has his or her license suspended or revoked for specific reasons;
· Is diagnosed with epilepsy or heart attacks and cannot receive a physician certification for safe vehicle operation (a medical report form);
· Is convicted of certain motor-vehicle related crimes or forfeits bail for those crimes; or
· Receives three or more three-point moving violations in 12 months.
The last four reasons for cancellation also apply to other household members and to those who "customarily operate" the automobile.
What Must an Insurer Do to Effectuate a WV Auto Insurance Cancellation?
Before an insurer may cancel a WV car liability insurance policy, it must provide proper and timely notice of its intent to do so.
When Must Notice of Cancellation Be Provided?
The general rule in West Virginia is that an insurer must provide 30 days' notice to an insured before cancelling an auto liability insurance policy. However, there is a major exception when the reason for cancellation is nonpayment of premiums.
If an insured fails to pay the premium or an installment by the due date, an insurer need only provide a 14-day notice of cancellation. The 14-day period starts when the notice is mailed, and the insured's payment is deemed made when the check is sent by first-class mail. Therefore, if a policyholder puts a check in the mail, postage prepaid, by the last day of the 14-day period, he or she avoids cancellation.
A separate provision applies with a shorter time period if an insured fails to make a first premium payment.
How May a WV Insurer Cancel an Auto Liability Policy?
Senate Bill 330, passed in 2016, added a new provision to WV law that allows insurers to provide electronic notice of cancellation "at the request of the policyholder." Although snail mail to the address on the policy application may still be used, when this electronic provision applies, the insurer may notify the policyholder "by email or other electronic means."
What Must a WV Auto Insurance Notice to Cancel Contain?
A notice to cancel a WV car liability insurance policy must give the policyholder certain information:
· The date on which the auto insurance policy will be cancelled; and
· The specific reason for cancellation.
Insurers with questions about WV auto insurance cancellation laws should contact the experienced attorneys at Jenkins Fenstermaker, PLLC. We have decades of experience defending insurance companies and helping them construe laws in West Virginia, Kentucky (KY), and Ohio (OH). Complete our contact form today to begin building a relationship with your Huntington insurance defense lawyers.