Do You Need Insurance On a Car If You Don’t Drive It?

So your car is broken down or in storage. Maybe it’s sitting in your driveway. Maybe it’s in a friend’s yard. Maybe your convertible is tucked away for the winter. Whatever the situation may be, you’re probably curious about whether or not you need insurance.

Do you need to pay insurance on a car if you don’t drive it? The answer depends on the situation.

In general, state law requires all registered vehicles to carry the legal minimum insurance. As long as the vehicle is registered in the state – and that registration is active and has not expired – then that vehicle is required to carry insurance.

In other words, if you want to avoid paying insurance on a vehicle for a period of time – like over the winter – then you’ll need to cancel your registration.

Laws on this process vary from state to state. They also differ between insurance providers. Some providers allow you to reduce your insurance cost temporarily, for example, if you’re not driving a vehicle. Some companies allow “comprehensive only” insurance while your vehicle is in storage, for example.

How Comprehensive Only, or “Comp Only” Insurance Coverage Works

When your vehicle has “comprehensive only” coverage, it protects the vehicle from fire, theft, vandalism, and weather damage. Your insurance company might also call this “comp only” coverage.car parked in storage

Comp only coverage is a popular option for protecting vehicles that you’re not currently driving. It’s significantly cheaper than full car insurance coverage, but it still protects your property from unexpected events.

Rules on comp only policies vary between insurance companies. Some companies require you to store your vehicle in a certified and protected storage facility, for example. Others will only issue the policy if your vehicle is being stored for at least six months.

It’s important to note that comp only insurance does not make your car legal to drive. If your vehicle only has comprehensive insurance, then it’s illegal to drive that vehicle on the road. States require you to have liability coverage at a bare minimum. Under comprehensive-only insurance policies, your vehicle does not have collision protection or liability coverage.

Storage Needs to Be Locked to Count as “Storage”

Your insurance policy will carefully define its storage requirements. You can’t leave your car parked on your front lawn all winter in the snow and ice, then expect your insurance company to cover all damages.

At a bare minimum, most insurance companies require your vehicle to be kept in a locked storage location – like a vehicle storage facility or a locked garage.

If your vehicle is “stored” in an unlocked location – like your driveway or your backyard – then your vehicle is considered “parked” in the eyes of law enforcement and your insurance company.

Having a locked storage facility is good, but having extra security measures is even better. The more secure your car’s storage place is, the lower your insurance rates will be.

You Can Insure a Car for Someone Else to Drive While Excluding Yourself from the Policy

There are a number of situations where you’re not driving a car, but still want to get insurance. Maybe you’re a licensed driver, but you’re keeping your car for someone else to drive.

In that situation, you can exclude yourself as a driver on the policy while still purchasing insurance for the car under your name.

If you’re in this unique situation, then you’ll need to contact your insurance company. Typically, your insurance company will want to know why you’re in the situation. They might ask whether or not you have a license, for example, or who the primary driver of the vehicle may be.

Insurance companies are generally okay with this situation. Typically, an insurer will want a licensed driver listed on the policy – like a family member living within the household. They may also require the background, personal information, and driving history of that family member.

Insurance companies will not be flexible with this arrangement if you’re using it to avoid high insurance costs related to previous accidents or DUIs. If you’re insuring a vehicle in your name because your wife has multiple DUIs, for example, then your insurance company won’t be very accommodating.

What If Nobody is Driving the Car for Months

So your car isn’t kept in storage, and it’s just an extra vehicle that nobody needs to drive for the next few months. Do you still need to get insurance?

In most states, you’re still required to keep liability insurance on your vehicle. If you intend to drive that vehicle at any time – even if it’s not being driven for months – then you’ll need to have liability coverage as a minimum.

If you let your insurance lapse, then your vehicle registration becomes invalid, in which case you’re no longer able to drive your vehicle.

In other words, your vehicle needs to be insured in order to be registered. In most states, that means you need to keep liability insurance on your vehicle as an absolute minimum – even if your car isn’t being driven for months.

However, if nobody is driving the car for months, then you may want to consider dropping full insurance from the vehicle – including optional types of coverage like collision insurance. Some might also want to drop comprehensive insurance (which covers your car against vandalism, natural disasters, and theft). Comprehensive insurance isn’t required, but it’s a good idea even if your car isn’t being driven.

Conclusion

Ultimately, most states require you to maintain insurance on a vehicle even if you’re not driving it. As long as your car is registered in your state, and that registration has not lapsed, then you’re required to maintain the minimum legal level of insurance (liability insurance).

However, some insurance companies may offer comp only coverage, which allows you to maintain protection against theft, vandalism, and natural disasters while significantly reducing your costs. Insurance companies may offer this if your car is kept in locked storage – but they’re unlikely to offer it if your car is parked on your lawn or in your driveway.

Talk to your insurance company to learn your options when your vehicle is not being driven for an extended period of time.

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  Comments: 31

  1. Grace J. Gniazdowska


    My car has been broken completely down for over 4 months now, I can not even get it out of the driveway. The only time it left the driveway was on a tow truck to get an estimate of repairs. Then towed back to the house. I am on a very small disability monthly check and I can not afford to pay insurance on a vehicle that I can’t drive. I am also unable to repair it due to the amount of the estimate. I tried to sell it for parts or mechanic special but no one wants it, not one message for 3 months now. I need every penny to save for a new used car because I live in an area where there is absolutely no public transportation and I have no one to ask for a ride when I have a doctors appointment or have to buy some food. I don’t really know what to do. I really can not afford to even pay the minimum insurance right now while the car is a total lemon. Please advise. After paying my rent I have only $200 left for the month.


    • Well, it sounds like you might need to cancel your registration and auto insurance on the car and just let it sit in your driveway. You won’t be legally able to drive it though!


      • My van is parked in front of my door,
        I ‘ve been trying to save some money up to fix it for months now .lm also on a monthly income & can’t afford to do it all I have to choose between things. Now someone crashed into it while parked in front of my door.Does the driver have to fix the damage that they caused? Thanks if you know!


      • My car was crushed Outside of my house on the high street and it is not drivable at all. It’s still there. I do not think that my insurance will repair it. Do I need to pay road tax? I am not planning to drive that car. I have insurance: third party fire and theft only. The accident was recorded in police and insurance company do not want to find out third party details so I have to do by myself. Do I need still pay for insurance (I pay monthly)?


        • Not sure what you mean by “road tax”… Usually, you are required to pay registration fees, which would then allow you to drive and/or park your vehicle on public roadways.

          Otherwise, if your vehicle registration is expired, it can be ticketed if parked on the road with expired registration. In addition, some cities have ordinances that prohibit a vehicle from parking in the same location for over 72 hours. If a vehicle is left for over 72 hours (even if it has valid registration) it can get towed and impounded (and eventually sold to cover towing and impound fees).

          In your case, if you do not plan on repairing your damaged vehicle, why would you want to continue to pay fire and theft on a heap of metal that you cannot use?

          Cancel your insurance, and call a few junkyards to see if any of them would come to get it from you as scrap metal… They might even pay you a few bucks if they do take it…

        • Andrew@4AutoInsuranceQuote


          Hi Alina,
          It depends on what happens to the car. If it’s undriveable and you don’t plan to drive it, then what are you going to do with it? If you’re going to get rid of it soon, then you can drop the insurance on it. If it’s just going to sit there for a long time, then technically you should keep insurance on it if it’s ever going to be driven. Basically, if you are going to fix it and keep it, then you should keep insurance on it, but if you are going to get rid of it, then you can cancel the insurance as soon as you don’t own it anymore.


      • I have a truck that was recently totaled,
        How do I cancel registration


        • To cancel your registration, contact your state’s DMV office.

        • Andrew@4AutoInsuranceQuote


          Hi Jerry,
          Yes that is correct. To cancel your registration on a totaled vehicle, just pay your local Department of Motor Vehicle office and explain the situation. You might even be able to do this online, but you will probably also need to create an account on your state’s DMV website. It isn’t difficult or complicated to do, but that is where you need to do it.

    • Andrew@4AutoInsuranceQuote


      If your car is undrivable, which you made clear that it is, then you can drop the insurance on it. Dropping Comprehensive on it means that you won’t get any money if it gets damaged while sitting there, and dropping liability on it means that you cannot legally drive the vehicle if you do fix it. But since it’s undrivable and you don’t have any immediate plans to fix the car, then yes you can drop the insurance on it. If you’re saving for another car anyway, you could also consider selling your broken car to a junkyard. They won’t pay top dollar, but you could at least receive some money if you don’t plan on fixing it or driving it again. Once you do get another car, you’ll need to buy insurance again.


  2. I have ALS and can no longer drive. I also have a bad driving history so my premiums are high. If my wife is the only one driving the vehicles ( my children are grown and gone) can I remove myself and lower my premium?


    • My mom just passed away from ALS, and the reason I’m looking at this site is because I’m trying to find out if a car that’s not currently being used (her old one) needs to be insured. Seeing you mention your condition made me tear up; I’m sending you all my best, and wishing you strength.

    • Andrew@4AutoInsuranceQuote


      You’ll need to contact your insurance company, but yes you should be able to remove yourself as a driver. Just make it clear that you have a disability and that you can’t drive. They should be accommodating and remove you as a driver. The most you might need to do is send them some type of documentation or doctor’s note that states you can’t drive. If they don’t remove you and are not understanding, then you should probably consider switching insurance companies to one that understands your condition.


    • Yes, you can exclude yourself from the policy only allowing your wife to drive the car. This should lower your premium.


  3. My car was in an accident and is not driveable. It’s been stored in a neighbor’s driveway since july of 2018. I canceled my insurance in July and just found out yesterday that the car was involved in an accident in December, which I don’t know how because I have the only key. Am I going to be held liable for this? The car to me is considered stolen since these people didn’t have a key or permission to drive the car.


    • If the vehicle was still registered to you, then, yes you will be held responsible.
      I, personally, think that this is BS., but nevertheless TRUE.
      IT’S ALSO BS that you must keep liability insurance on a vehicle that is parked or broken down, but same situation.

    • Andrew@4AutoInsuranceQuote


      Did the accident take place in your neighbor’s driveway? It might sound silly, but you could have been notified that it was in an accident even if it was a minor accident in the driveway. In this case, they are simply sending you a notification and it was likely someone else’s fault. If the vehicle was somehow fixed, stolen, and drove away and was involved in an accident, then you shouldn’t be held liable. You’ll need to prove that you had the only key, that it was stolen, and that it was not driveable as far as you were aware, but you did not give permission to whoever stole your vehicle, so shouldn’t be held liable.


  4. My car has been sitting at my parents for over 6 months. I just found out I could have been saving money since it isn’t being used. I live in the state of Louisiana an want to know once I notify my insurance company that I want to put it in storage. Do I need to cancel registration an turn in my plates?? How long can I keep it in storage an be covered? I don’t plan on driving it for a while.

    • Andrew@4AutoInsuranceQuote


      If you don’t plan on using your car for a long time, but want to keep it legally registered and insured, then you could shop around for an insurance company that offers Comp-only policies. These do not offer liability coverage, so they do not meet the state requirement to carry insurance. However, they do protect your car while it’s sitting in storage. Fire, theft, and water damage would be the primary things to be worried about, and a Comp-only policy would cover that. If you don’t care at all about damage to the car, then you could just cancel all your insurance on it, but you won’t have any coverage if it’s ever taken out on the road.


  5. I took my car to Mexico for repair (Yes I bought a full coverage insurance for MEXICO). While being there my Texas insurance expired but I decided not to renew it because I did not know how long my car was going to be over there. I received a letter from Texas about my car not being insured. What should I do? my car was insured all the time while being in Mexico.

    • Andrew@4AutoInsuranceQuote


      It’s good that you purchased insurance in Mexico because a US policy doesn’t cover Mexico. You will need to contact your insurance company and explain that you had your vehicle in Mexico for an extended period of time and that you had insurance on it in Mexico. You will likely need to send them proof. This should be enough for them to take back your penalty for not being insured. If it’s not, you might need to switch to another insurance company. Before you buy a new policy, verify with the new company that your Mexican insurance policy is enough to satisfy their requirement for continuous coverage.

  6. Alphonso Tyrone Wattie


    What if someone registers your vehicle with out your permission, forging the process claiming their friend at dmv is just transferring the tittle?

    • Andrew@4AutoInsuranceQuote


      Hi Alphonso,
      The other person is essentially stealing your vehicle and is breaking the law. You should contact the police and tell them what happened. From an insurance standpoint, you wouldn’t be liable for any accident caused by that person. If you have full coverage on your vehicle, then the theft is included under Comprehensive coverage, so you would have coverage there as well. Any time someone takes your vehicle without your permission, you aren’t liable for any damages or accidents that your vehicle causes. Of course, if someone really did register your vehicle without your permission, the insurance company and police will need as much documentation as you can provide to support your side of the story.


  7. I have a 2012 Mitsubishi lancer that is not drivable. The engine went out and I don’t have the money to get it fixed. So I had to get another car, that was more reliable. My question is, I still owe on the loan and still paying on it, can I cancel my insurance on it?

    • Andrew@4AutoInsuranceQuote


      Hi Shawn,
      The short answer is, yes you probably can. If you don’t have full coverage on the car (if you did, the insurance would fix it) and your loan company isn’t requiring you to carry full coverage on the car, then you can probably cancel the insurance on it if it is undrivable. You need to legally have insurance on vehicles that you have registered and drive on the road, but if a car is just sitting there and is unable to drive, then you don’t need insurance on it. You might want to double-check with your loan company to see if they know you don’t have full coverage because they might require you to have it in order to keep the loan.


    • My husband has lost both leg due to an illness and Can not drive any more at the moment.will I be cancel my car insurance

      • Andrew@4AutoInsuranceQuote


        Hi Marie,
        If nobody is going to drive the car, then it’s possible you can cancel the insurance on it. However, you should be aware that you need to maintain the insurance to renew keep your registration valid. If you are going to keep the car but never drive it, then you could also just drop your coverage to the state minimum liability limits, and maybe keep comprehensive coverage on it in case it’s stolen or something else happens to it while it’s sitting there. But if you are going to drive the car, then you need to keep insurance on it.


  8. I own a vehicle with my husband we haven’t driven for 2 years. It’s is old broke down van which we are not going to fix. The tittle is in both names. The insurance was in my name. I canceled it. My Husband drives a vehicle that is covered through his step dad who passed and his insurance. I barely drive maybe down the street to the drug store once in a while. Do I still need insurance. I still have a flawless licence. Just don’t drive my husband takes me everywhere .

    • Andrew@4AutoInsuranceQuote


      Hi Andrea,
      It seems like you wouldn’t necessarily need insurance yourself, though your husband can’t maintain his step dad’s insurance. Meaning, he likely doesn’t have coverage, or at least won’t for much longer. Your husband would need to transfer the title of his step dad’s vehicle into his name and get his own insurance policy to be properly covered. At that point, you should probably be listed as a driver on your husband’s policy. If you aren’t, some companies would be okay to not have you on as a driver if you rarely drive, while others would require you to be on the policy. If you have a flawless record, then there would likely be no additional cost to have you listed as a driver.


  9. My father insures my car (different address, I am registered owner) on his insurance, is he liable if I cause an accident?

    • Andrew@4AutoInsuranceQuote


      Hi Cheryl,
      The simple answer is yes, his insurance would cover your accidents. Insurance follows the car, so if the car is on his policy then his insurance would respond if you get into an accident.
      Having said that, there’s a possibility the insurance company would deny your claim, or at best would likely cancel his policy if you got in an accident. This is because the car should not be on his policy. If you are the registered owner and you live in a separate address, then he doesn’t have an insurable interest in the car. The car needs to be insured on your own car insurance policy.

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