Winter Car Insurance

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What's winter car insurance?


Mother nature can be a fickle friend and this is especially true when it comes to those winter months. If you live in an area with lots of snow, ice, and decreased visibility, it’s understandable that you might want to cut back on your driving time. If you’re considering not driving at all and want some car insurance advice or just want some winter weather help, we're here. Let’s explore your car insurance options for the winter.


Understanding car insurance for the winter
  1. Can I pause my insurance coverage during the winter?
  2. Do I need additional insurance coverage?
  3. Winter readiness: tips




Can you pause your car insurance for the winter?


While it seems like a straightforward idea, you’re not really able to “pause” your car insurance. It simply doesn’t work that way for most policies. This is because the way insurance and your state’s registration work together. In order to legally drive your vehicle, you’ll need to do two things: you need to register and insure it. So, by “pausing” your insurance, you run the risk of having your registration be suspended — which can result in a pretty significant fine.

However, we have some advice to give you some wiggle room and it’s going to take some creative thinking with your insurance company. Let’s explore.


Storage coverage

Some insurance companies offer what’s called storage coverage. Basically, this coverage allows you to drop all your insurance coverage except your comprehensive coverage. Now, with great insurance power come great responsibility. If you drop your insurance coverage to this, you are not legally allowed to drive your car.

Because you technically don’t have the correct insurance coverage for your registration, you run the risk of having your registration flagged and suspended. But there are a couple of things you can do to avoid this. If your state offers and you qualify, you can submit what’s called an Affidavit of Non-Use through your state’s DMV. Basically, this certifies that your vehicle is not being operated or parked on a public roadway and your liability coverage has been dropped. This will avoid any issues of your registration being canceled or suspended.

If your state doesn’t offer this, you should check to see if it actively monitors your registration. If it doesn't, you would just want to make sure your registration isn’t going to be up for renewal when you have your vehicle “in storage.”

Because your vehicle only has comprehensive coverage, this kind of coverage only protects it from damage due to weather/animal-related events, theft, and vandalism. Meaning, it’s probably a good idea to keep the vehicle in a garage or driveway. Moreover, if you have a loan or lease on your vehicle, you probably won't be able to do this as it will be a violation of your agreement.



Reduce your coverage

If you’re not able to use storage coverage, you might consider dropping your physical coverage — your collision and comprehensive. On average, your collision and comprehensive can take up half of your total insurance premium. So, if you’re just going to be storing your vehicle in a garage for a few months, you might consider if it’s worth it to drop these coverages.

Just like with your storage coverage, you won’t be able to do this if you have a loan or lease on the vehicle.


Average Annual Premium by Coverage Level

Coverage Level Average Annual Premium Monthly Premium
Liability Only $672 $56
$500 Deductible $1,427 $119
$1,000 Deductible $1,268 $106

As you can see, the monthly difference between full coverage and dropping your coverage to liablity insurance only is about 50% or $56 dollars.





Should you increase coverage during the winter?


Moving in a completely different direction than our previous section, there are some reasons you might actually want to increase or change your coverage during the winter. Primarily, because the weather conditions make driving dangerous and could lead to an increase in accidents.


What coverage should you consider?

A big consideration for car insurance for the winter is your comprehensive and collision coverage. Unlike your liability insurance, these coverages are designed to protect your car from property damage. In the winter, this could mean you skidding off the road due ice and striking a tree (collision), or your inability to see a deer and striking it (comprehensive).

Unless you have a loan or lease, these coverages are not legally required as part of your state’s insurance laws but they might be a good idea here. Most insurance companies will allow you to drop and add your comprehensive and collision coverage (again, if you do not have a loan or lease). If you’re worried about damaging your vehicle specifically because of the inclement weather caused by the winter, this might be something to consider.


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Winter driving: Tips


If you’re looking for tips on driving safely during the winter or more ways to save on auto insurance, see our articles here:


Recent Questions:

Winter Car Insurance

Do I have to pay insurance if I don’t drive?

Mar 11, 2018

My insurance premium has more than double so I’ve decided to cancel my insurance altogether. I’m turning in my registration ...

Car insurance if I only drive part of the year

Mar 08, 2018

I only drive my car during the months of April to September. I don’t drive it in the winter. Can ...

Can I pause my insurance while I’m away for work?

Mar 06, 2018

I currently live in San Jose but this summer I will be traveling to Seattle for a job for two ...

Insurance when car is parked for 6 months

Feb 11, 2018

I live in Vermont but winter in Florida. If I buy a vehicle in Florida and leave it there parked ...

Additional Resources:

Winter Car Insurance

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