Insurance tips on taking your car off the road for the winter

With winter fast approaching, you may be considering taking your summer vehicle off the road and into your garage. If so, there are a few things you should be aware of regarding your auto insurance.

Let’s start off saying that you just want to park your car for the winter without revoking your registration and/or insurance coverage. For instance, you might have a valuable car that even if parked for the cold weather months, you still wish to insure against theft or damage that might occur while parked. What do you do in that case?

Whether you are looking to insure your car, truck or RV, you may have an alternative to an all-or-nothing approach to insuring your vehicle – removing your liability and collision coverage while maintaining your comprehensive coverage.

There are a couple of key reasons why this is probably the best way to go. First, letting your insurance lapse can significantly raise your insurance rates over the long term as insurance companies often do not offer the best rates to those without prior (i.e. existing) insurance.

Additionally, if you do not have comprehensive coverage and something happens to your car while parked such as fire or theft, you will have to cover those expenses out of your own pocket.

There are a couple of things you may want to take into account when maintaining comprehensive-only coverage – once you remove collision and liability coverage, in some states the motor vehicle authority will be alerted by your insurance company that you have removed your coverage. Your state’s motor vehicle authority (the Department of Motor Vehicles or DMV in many states) may contact you to find out why you removed your coverage without officially taking your car “off the road”. They will most likely require you to prove that you are not driving your car (which of course, could be a hassle).

Another downside to just maintaining comprehensive coverage is that you cannot legally drive your car without liability coverage. So if you plan to drive your car for even one minute throughout the winter, you should just keep your full coverage.

If you really have no intent on moving your car and want to make it non-operational (thereby skipping any potential conflicts with your DMV), remember that you may be required to turn in your license plate and/or cancel your registration when you car is non-operational. Even if you do make your car non-operational, you may be able to keep your comprehensive coverage to protect your car while it sits. We suggest discussing this option with your insurance provider.

One last thought – even if your car is kept in a garage, you should understand that it may not be covered by your home insurance (get a quick quote with us if you don’t already have home insurance). For instance, if your garage collapses onto your vehicle, even if you do have home insurance, your car may not be covered under that condition (though it may be, depending on the circumstances).

Just to be 100% clear: we strongly recommend that you keep at least some level of auto insurance coverage throughout the winter for the reasons we’ve listed above.

So, are you planning on parking or garaging your vehicle for the winter? If so, what will you do with your insurance coverage? Please let us know in the comments!

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10 Comments on "Insurance tips on taking your car off the road for the winter"

  1. Georgia B November 10, 2016 at 9:42 am · Reply

    I’ve got a vintage car that I am probably not going to be driving at all this winter since it doesn’t do well in the snow or in cold conditions. I’m glad I came across this article because I wasn’t really sure how to handle the insurance situation! It sounds like the best option for me is to remove just liability and collision coverage and keep paying for the comprehensive coverage like you suggested. I want to make sure my insurance rates don’t go up in the long-term, so I’m glad I know not to just cut off insurance as a whole on that car!

  2. Paula September 18, 2016 at 4:49 pm · Reply

    My son got his first car..a 88firebird…want to insure while sitting an begin worked on…..not road ready..but would like to know if I can insure while doing this

  3. Ferdinand Mulch August 6, 2016 at 11:14 pm · Reply

    Aw, this was an incredibly good post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort to make a really good article… but what can I say… I hesitate a whole lot and don’t seem to get anything done.|

  4. ken bauer May 13, 2016 at 8:41 am · Reply

    Also when I do put the motorhome on the streets I call the insurance company and add the collision coverage then I call again when I put it back in storage.

  5. ken bauer May 13, 2016 at 8:05 am · Reply

    I am financing a motothome through a credit union and I have it in storage 11 months out of the year and I keep full coverage insurance except for collision coverage because it is not on the road. Now the credit union says after years of doing this with storage that they will put there own coverage on it. I can not believe they can get away with this, am I correct.

  6. James Bergman May 11, 2016 at 7:13 am · Reply

    I think it is probably better to just keep your car insurance over the winter. It just isn’t worth it to me to cancel my registration or turn in my license plates. I will also probably drive my car at some point. Maybe not often, but sometimes I have to because my wife is using the other car. Better to be prepared even if you have to pay a little more on insurance.

  7. Cheryl May 3, 2016 at 11:33 am · Reply

    What if you were to take a 3rd vehicle off the road, as you only use it in the winter months for plowing? Sounds worth it to save $120 per month just on that 1 vehicle, vs additional registration fees when you need to put it back on the road to use it for plowing.

    What do you do in that instance? Older truck with liability only now, so what are the steps, for doing that? Is it possible, and would it save you money if you took it off insurance and turned in plates while not driving? What are the hassles when trying to then put it back on the road?

    I would assume call and add the insurance to your existing policy for the truck, but how would the RMV work? What would you do to register it then, and are the costs involved worth it in the end?

    I see your point from the article for leaving insurance on it, to protect from theft or fire.. however, if it is an older truck with minimal coverage while driving, what’s the point?

    Thanks for the help

  8. Dejan February 24, 2016 at 3:30 pm · Reply

    Great post

  9. Anthony April 10, 2014 at 7:24 pm · Reply

    cant im sry

  10. Anthony April 10, 2014 at 7:23 pm · Reply

    what if you can afford insurance for a while can u take loan car off the road

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