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Car storage insurance: How does it work?

You should keep your car insurance while your car is in storage in order to avoid a lapse. You may be able to reduce your coverage to just comprehensive, which would cover any damage that happens while your car isn’t being driven.

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Headshot of Kara McGinley

By

Rachael BrennanRachael BrennanSenior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance ExpertRachael Brennan is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. Her work has also been featured in MoneyGeek, Clearsurance, Adweek, Boston Globe, The Ladders, and AutoInsurance.com.&Kara McGinleyKara McGinleySenior Editor & Licensed Home Insurance ExpertKara McGinley is a former senior editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she specialized in homeowners and renters insurance. As a journalist and as an insurance expert, her work and insights have been featured in Forbes Advisor, Kiplinger, Lifehacker, MSN, WRAL.com, and elsewhere.

Updated|5 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.

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But 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. 

Instead of canceling, you may be able to reduce your coverage to just comprehensive coverage, sometimes called “car storage insurance,” which would cover the types of damage that can happen while your car isn’t being driven.

Key takeaways

  • Comprehensive-only coverage is what’s sometimes referred to as car storage insurance or parked car insurance.

  • 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.

  • Having some car insurance coverage on your car while it’s in storage keeps you from having a coverage lapse on your record, which could affect your rates in the future.

Why do I need insurance for a car in storage?

You still need insurance for a car in storage because cars are still at risk for the kinds of damage that aren’t caused by a collision.

Even though you won’t be driving your car, there’s still a possibility it could be damaged while it’s parked in a garage or storage facility. Flooding, theft, vandalism, fire, animal-related damage, 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 an 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.

What kind of insurance do I need for a car in storage?

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. Dropping your full-coverage car insurance down to just comprehensive coverage is what’s usually referred to as car storage insurance or parked car insurance.

→ Learn more about comprehensive coverage

What is comprehensive-only coverage?

When you hear car storage insurance or parked car insurance, that usually means comprehensive-only coverage. 

When your car is in storage, dropping liability and collision coverage leaves you with just comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive coverage pays for damage caused by things that aren’t a car accident, like:

  • Hail

  • Wind

  • Hurricanes

  • Riots

  • Fire

  • Theft

  • Vandalism

  • Flood

  • Falling objects

  • Earthquakes

Check with your insurance company to see if they can offer you comprehensive-only auto insurance for a car in storage (they may call this car-storage insurance, parked car insurance or seasonal vehicle insurance). 

How to get car storage insurance

Some car insurance companies will only let you reduce your coverage to comprehensive-only after a vehicle has been in storage for a minimum of 30 days. Check with your auto insurance carrier to see whether car storage insurance is an option for you.

Switching to comprehensive-only can save you a lot of money, since your car insurance premiums will be significantly lower, 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. Any accidents you, or someone else, has while your car is only protected by car storage insurance might not be covered. 

Do I need insurance for a car that never gets driven?

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.

How much is storage insurance on a car?

Car storage insurance is typically only comprehensive coverage, which is the cheapest part of car insurance. 

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, drivers spent an average of $160 per year on comprehensive coverage from 2015 to 2019. That means that car-storage insurance might only cost you a couple hundred dollars a year. [1]

Coverage type

Average monthly cost

Average annual cost

Comprehensive

$13

$160

Collision

$30

$358

Liability

$50

$605

Insurance rates vary based on a number of factors, so the easiest way to make sure you are getting the best car insurance storage rates is to work with an insurance expert to compare quotes from multiple companies

How do I prepare a car for long-term storage?

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 coverage policy before you plan on driving again

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    Frequently asked questions

    What does it mean when your car is stored?

    There are multiple definitions of a stored car but, for insurance purposes, a stored car is a vehicle that is parked continuously for more than seven days in a facility like a parking garage. Most insurance companies will only allow you to switch to car storage insurance if your car is being stored for 30 days or longer, but check with your insurer to verify the requirements.

    Can you have storage insurance on a financed car?

    If you’re financing your vehicle, you may be required by your lienholder to maintain a certain amount of car insurance coverage. 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.

    Can you drive a car with storage insurance?

    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.

    What should I do if my car is damaged while in storage?

    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.

References

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Policygenius uses external sources, including government data, industry studies, and reputable news organizations to supplement proprietary marketplace data and internal expertise. Learn more about how we use and vet external sources as part of our

editorial standards.
  1. National Association of Insurance Commissioners

    . "

    2018/2019 Auto Insurance Database Report

    ." Accessed October 28, 2022.

Authors

Rachael Brennan is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. Her work has also been featured in MoneyGeek, Clearsurance, Adweek, Boston Globe, The Ladders, and AutoInsurance.com.

Kara McGinley is a former senior editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she specialized in homeowners and renters insurance. As a journalist and as an insurance expert, her work and insights have been featured in Forbes Advisor, Kiplinger, Lifehacker, MSN, WRAL.com, and elsewhere.

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