Updated October 22, 2021|4 min read
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If you’re putting a car in storage for a long time — maybe because you’ll be traveling for a few months, or your job is taking you overseas for a year, or because you have a sports car you only drive in the summer — you might be tempted to stop paying for car insurance altogether.
After all, you won’t be driving, so why would you need to have auto insurance? Why not cancel your insurance and save the money you’d spend on your monthly premiums?
Ready to shop car insurance?
There are actually a few reasons why you should keep your car insurance policy active even though you won’t actually be driving your vehicle, like avoiding a lapse in coverage and covering any unexpected damage.
You may be able to reduce your coverage to just comprehensive coverage, which would cover the types of damage that can happen while your car isn’t being driven. But comp-only coverage, often referred to as car storage insurance, isn’t available in every situation.
Don’t cancel your car insurance policy if you are putting your car in storage, your vehicle is still at risk of damage or theft
Some insurance companies will let you drop everything but comprehensive coverage for a car that’s going to be in long-term storage
Comp-only coverage is what’s sometimes referred to as car storage or parked car insurance
Having some car insurance coverage on your car while it’s in storage keeps you from having an coverage lapse on your record, which could affect your rates in the future
Even though you won’t be driving your car, there’s still a possibility it could be damaged. Flooding, theft, vandalism, fire, and even damage from falling objects are all still risks even when you’re not driving your car. If you cancel your insurance policy while your car is in storage and it gets damaged, you may have to pay out of pocket for the repairs.
But there are other reasons to keep your car insurance policy — maintaining at least some insurance coverage on your car while it’s in storage also keeps you from having insurance coverage lapse on your record.
When you apply for car insurance, the insurance company will take a look to see if you’ve been uninsured in the past. Having a lapse in coverage can make it harder to get insurance, or can mean your rates will be higher, since insurance companies may see you as more of a risk.
One more factor to consider is whether you are still paying off a loan on your car. If you are, then your lienholder may require you to maintain certain types of car insurance coverage on your car for as long as you’re still paying off your loan, even if you won’t be driving it for a while. If you own your car outright, either because you’ve paid off your loan or you paid in full when you bought it, this won’t be an issue.
If you’re leaving your car in long-term storage, you may want to check with your insurance company and see if you can reduce your coverage to just comprehensive coverage, and drop liability coverage and collision coverage.
Comprehensive coverage covers your car from damage that can happen when you’re not driving, like the types of damage we mentioned above.
It can specifically include damage caused by:
Check with your insurance company to see if they can offer you comprehensive only auto insurance for a car in storage (they may also call this car-storage insurance, parked car insurance or seasonal vehicle insurance).
Some insurers will only let you reduce your coverage to comprehensive coverage only after a vehicle has been in storage for a minimum of 30 days. Doing this can save you a lot of money, since your premiums will be significantly lower if you reduce your coverage to comp only, but remember to switch back to full coverage before you drive again. Once your coverage is reduced to comp only, driving your car, even just a short distance, could be costly and get you in trouble.
It’s easy to assume you don’t need car insurance coverage for a vehicle that you plan on never driving, say because it’s a collector’s item that you only plan on taking to car shows.
But just like other cars that are kept in storage, your vehicle is still at risk for damage, theft, and other perils that aren’t caused by a collision with another vehicle — like if something falls and damages your vehicle’s roof while it’s in storage.
You should ask your insurance company about comp-only insurance coverage for your car that you do not drive. In all but two states, it is illegal to drive without car insurance coverage, so if there is even a slight chance that you want to take this car on the road, you should talk to your insurance company about what other kind of coverage you might need, like liability coverage or collision coverage.
Whether you’re paying for a car storage facility or leaving your vehicle in a friend’s garage, you’ll want to prepare your car as much as possible, so it’s still in the best shape when you’re ready to start driving it again. Here are some steps you can take to prepare a vehicle for long-term storage.
Change the oil
Fill up your tank with gas and add fuel stabilizer
Refill the brake fluid, windshield wiper fluid, and coolant
Clean the inside of your vehicle and take any important items out of the glove compartment
Make sure your parking brake is released
Add pressure to your tires or remove them and put your car on blocks
Wax the exterior of your car and then put a car cover over it
Remove and store your car battery, or connect it to a battery tender
Put a reminder on your calendar to restore your insurance to a full policy before you plan on driving again
If you’re financing your vehicle, you may be required by your lienholder to maintain a certain amount of coverage for that vehicle. If you know you won’t be driving for a period of time, you can check with your lienholder to see if you can safely drop liability and collision coverage while your car is being stored, but they may still require you to have full coverage.
No, you can’t drive your car with comprehensive-only insurance. You need to have at least the minimum amount of car insurance required in your state. And in order to be fully protected in the event of an accident, you need even more than that. If you’ve reduced your coverage while your car was being stored, be sure to reinstate liability coverage before you drive it again.
If your car is damaged while it’s in storage, you should speak to both the car storage company and your insurance carrier to determine who's responsible for covering the cost of the damage. You may need to file a claim with your insurance, and your insurance company may reach out to the storage company for reimbursement.