Should You Keep Car Insurance on a Car You’re Not Driving?


Say your gorgeous convertible is tucked away safely in the garage this winter. Do you need to keep insuring it? Can you get away with less coverage on a car you aren't driving?

should you keep car insurance on a car you're not driving

Maybe it’s a classic convertible; maybe it’s a car your son or daughter won’t need this semester; maybe it’s a car you plan to fix up over the course of a number of months—or years. Whatever the reason, you might find yourself in a position to protect your car from winter’s harshest elements and take it off the streets for a few months. But should you keep car insurance on a car you’re not driving? And just how much car insurance is required for a stored vehicle?

Do you have to pay insurance on a car you don’t drive?

In almost every state, a car must carry the legal minimum insurance if it is registered in that state. So, if you’re truly taking a break from the car in question, you’ll want to cancel your registration, in addition to locking it up in storage and canceling your insurance. But laws on this vary from state to state, so check your individual DMV for more information.

However, if you plan on not driving your car for a while, consider car insurance for low-mileage drivers. Essentially, a device is implanted in your vehicle that tracks your driving behavior in order to give the insurance companies a more accurate representation of your driving, then design your premium accordingly. Since you drive less and present less of a risk to the insurance companies, they will most likely give you a significantly reduced premium.

Can you temporarily suspend your car insurance?

Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as “pausing” 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 — as we mentioned above. So, by “pausing”, or “suspending” your insurance, you in turn run the risk of having your registration be suspended — which can result in a pretty significant fine. Before making this decision it’s best to give your insurance agent or company a call as there are some exceptions (for example if you’re in the military) and even downsides (suspended license).

What is parked car insurance?

Parked car insurance is a type of comprehensive coverage for vehicles that are stored either at home or at a self-storage facility. This type of coverage usually protects your car from fire, weather damage, or if it’s stolen; it does not cover collision damage. Not every insurance company offers this type of policy so to be sure to contact your local agent for more information.

Alternatively, some companies will allow you to drop your collision and comprehensive coverage if the vehicle will be in storage for at least six months. If you can swing it, it can make a real difference. Nicole Fleming, a licensed insurance agent with The Zebra explains: “Your collision and comprehensive is roughly half of your total insurance premium. By getting rid of your physical protection, the vehicle is not legal to drive, but the policy is much cheaper.”

Not an ideal storage scenario.
Not an ideal storage scenario.

Can you drive a car with storage insurance?

In short, no. This is due to several reasons. For one thing, a standard storage insurance policy doesn’t actually cover your car — just everything inside of the unit itself. But more importantly, if you choose to change your insurance coverage to this, you are not legally allowed to drive your car.

Keep in mind just where it is your car will be stored—and remember that space has to be locked to count as storage (anything else, including your front lawn, is just parked in the eyes of the law and insurance companies.) As Esurance explains, “The more secure your car’s storage space, the lower your car insurance rates can often be. For instance, renting out a garage spot for your vehicle can typically net a lower premium than using a carport. You’ll also rest easier knowing there aren’t prying eyes on your valuable vehicle.” If you’re looking for a good place that will keep your car safe in storage, check out SpareFoot.

A Final Tip

Feel like adjusting your insurance is the right choice to get you through this long winter? Great — just make sure to remember to call once the season changes so that you don’t find yourself on the road without coverage in the event of an accident.

  • Jarett

    A great option for those who don’t drive much is Metromile (www.metromile.com). You wrote about us in August last year (https://zebrablog.wpengine.com/450/metromile-insurance/). You pay a low monthly base rates and pennies per mile you drive. The less you drive, the more you save.

    • 49er proudfan

      The only problem with metromile.com is they want all names of other drivers; If you want to be strict about anything, you should be strict about the person who is applying for metromile.com.

      Metromile.com’s customer service mentioned they needed to have the other drivers due to the fact that they had access to your vehicle. Just because someone resides within the same property as you does not mean they have access to the vehicle.

      I probably would have went with metromile.com if it wasn’t for that.

      God Bless.

      • Neil Richardson

        That is actually the case with almost any insurance company. If you aren’t asked about additional household members of driving age when you purchase insurance that is probably an oversight by the agent writing the policy. You should have the option to either cover or exclude these people from your policy, but listing additional household members is a must for insurance companies because they increase your risk profile.

  • Brandon Roberts

    One of my good friends was actually wondering this same thing! He has his old high school sitting in his drive, that he doesn’t drive anymore, but is still paying insurance on it. He was wondering what he should do about this. So I just wanted to thank you for talking about this. One I told him about it, it really cleared up a ton of the confusion he had.