Car Storage Insurance: Do You Need Coverage for Your Parked Vehicle?

You can buy car storage insurance as a comprehensive-only policy or by suspending specific coverages of an existing policy, leaving only the comprehensive insurance. Doing so will avoid a lapse in coverage while you do not use the car and you’ll be protected against theft, vandalism and weather related losses. You should also consider having collision coverage if your vehicle is stored in a location where it could be damaged by another driver. Be sure to prepare your vehicle for storage as doing so can help avoid costly damage repairs.

If you’re looking to store a car or not drive it very often, keep reading to see why you should still have your vehicle covered and what your options are.

Does Car Storage Insurance Exist?

You won’t find a policy called car storage insurance. Instead, you will find comprehensive-only policies, which will provide protection against covered perils while your car is stored. Covered perils include:

  • Animal attacks
  • Earthquakes
  • Explosions
  • Falling objects
  • Fires
  • Floods
  • Hail
  • Riots
  • Vandalism
  • Windstorms

You can buy comprehensive coverage in one of two ways. You can purchase a new comprehensive-only plan or you can suspend all other coverage on an existing policy leaving only the comprehensive portion in place. However, don’t neglect to consider the addition of collision coverage. Comprehensive is great for non-collision-related incidents, but it won’t help if another vehicle hits your car when it’s stored.

If you are storing your vehicle and forgoing liability coverage, file an affidavit of non-use with your Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) as this will stop your vehicle registration from being canceled.

Comprehensive-only policies will provide protection against covered perils while your car is stored.

If you have a vehicle that has collector merit and is stable or appreciating in value, you can buy collector car insurance. This coverage will allow you to store your vehicle for prolonged periods of time and still gives you the option to drive the vehicle every now and again. However, the insurance company that offers collector car insurance will require you to stay within a certain mileage per year, so make sure you really only intend to drive the insured vehicle sparingly. The provider will also have guidelines for your vehicle to be eligible for collector car insurance.

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Do You Need Insurance on a Car That’s Parked for Extended Periods?

Auto insurance is not required for vehicles that are parked for extended periods of time as they are not being used on the open road. Only when a vehicle is being operated on public roadways does insurance become necessary in most states. If you are caught driving without insurance you could face vehicle impoundment, license suspension, jail time and fines. Below is a list of the fine amounts by state for first-time offenders for driving without proper insurance.

State

Fine

State

Fine

Alabama

$200 - $300

Montana

$250 - $500

Alaska

$100 - $2500

Nebraska

$50

Arizona

$972 - $1,883

Nevada

$250 - $1,000

Arkansas

$50 - $500

New Hampshire

None

California

$100 - $500

New Jersey

$300 - $5,000

Colorado

Up to $1,000

New Mexico

$300 - $1,000

Connecticut

$100 - $1,000

New York

$150 - $1,500

Delaware

$1,500 - $4,000

North Carolina

$50 - $100

Florida

$150 - $250

North Dakota

$150 - $5,000

Georgia

$200 - $1,000

Ohio

N/A

Hawaii

$100 - $5,000

Oklahoma

Up to $250

Idaho

$75 - $1,000

Oregon

$130 - $1,000

Illinois

$501 - $1,000

Pennsylvania

$300

Indiana

$150 - $225

Rhode Island

$100 - $500

Iowa

$250

South Carolina

N/A

Kansas

$300 - $2,500

South Dakota

$100 - $200

Kentucky

$500 - $2,500

Tennessee

$100

Louisiana

Up to $500

Texas

$175 - $1,000

Maine

$100 - $500

Utah

Up to $1,000

Maryland

Up to $2,500

Vermont

$250 - $500

Massachusetts

$500 - $5,000

Virginia

$600

Michigan

$200 - $500

Washington

$250

Minnesota

$200 - $1,000

West Virginia

$200 - $5,000

Mississippi

$500

Wisconsin

Up to $500

Missouri

Up to $300

Wyoming

$250 - $1,000

Source: Consumer Federation of America

Note: You should still have insurance even if the vehicle isn’t being used so you can avoid a lapse in coverage and coverage against theft, vandalism and severe weather.

Do I Need To Insure a Car That Doesn’t Run?

Cars that aren’t running should still have insurance just in case something outside your control happens. A comprehensive plan will protect your vehicle from any non-collision-related events, like falling debris, earthquakes and vandalism. It will not, however, protect your car if it gets hit by another vehicle. You will need collision coverage if someone damages your vehicle with their car.

Consider collision coverage in case another vehicle hits your car while it’s stored.

Why is it important to maintain coverage on stored vehicles?

There are a couple of reasons to maintain coverage for stored cars. Otherwise, you will pay more in the long-run:

Avoid Lapses in Coverage - A lapse in coverage refers to a period of time when you have no insurance, including:

  • Your driver’s license getting suspended
  • Your vehicle being repossessed by your leasing company or lender
  • Getting points on your driving record
  • Higher rates for your car insurance
  • Having to file an SR-22
  • Having to pay out-of-pocket in the event of an accident

You will pay much more in insurance coverage after a lapse. If your provider refuses to renew your policy, you will need another policy from a different provider as soon as possible. Otherwise, you will have a lapse in coverage. Lapses in coverage can be caused by several things, such as:

  • Your insurance company has canceled your coverage - Insurance companies will cancel your coverage for several reasons, including:
    • You committed fraud - Committing fraud can include lying about information when you’re first insured or not being forthright about information involving a claim.
    • You committed a vehicular crime - Criminal action taken while behind the wheel will cause your provider to cancel your coverage.
    • You have a medical diagnosis that impairs your driving - If you have a medical condition that makes you unfit to drive, your carrier will avoid the risk and cancel your policy.
  • Your insurance company has decided not to renew your policy - Insurance companies do not have to renew your policy if they find you to be high-risk. A nonrenewal of your policy can occur for several reasons, such as:
    • You’ve had several accidents in a short period of time - Whether you’re at fault or not, too many accidents can cause an insurance company to not renew coverage.
    • You’ve filed too many claims - The more claims you file, the more of a risk you’re considered to be.
    • Your credit score may have dropped too low - Insurance companies see a link between those with poor credit and those who file insurance claims. If your score drops very low, your provider may view you as too high of a risk and refuse to renew your coverage. A low credit score is anything under 580. To avoid a drop in your score, pay off your debts when you can, don’t be late with your bills and don’t use more than 30% of your total available credit.
  • You’re late on your premium payment - Premium payments tend to be due on a fixed day every month. If several weeks go by without you making your payment, you will have a lapse in coverage. This means you won’t be insured when an accident occurs and you’ll pay more when you buy a new policy.

Your Vehicle’s Safety - Even a car in storage can be damaged by unforeseen events. Without proper coverage, any damage done to your vehicle may have to be paid out-of-pocket if you’re uninsured. At the very least, buy a comprehensive-only plan even if you won’t be driving, so your vehicle get’s protection from random weather events, civil unrest and vandalism.

You should still have insurance even if the vehicle isn’t being used so you can avoid a lapse in coverage.

What Types of Car Storage Insurance Options Are There?

You have a few options for car storage insurance, including:

  • Comprehensive coverage - Comprehensive coverage helps pay to repair or replace your vehicle if it is damaged by something other than a car accident. Fires, falling objects, explosions, earthquakes, windstorms, hail, floods, vandalism, riots and collision with animals are covered perils.
  • Collision coverage - Collision coverage helps pay damages to your vehicle caused by an accident regardless of who is at fault. Although collision coverage is not required by law, if you are leasing your car or you have an auto loan, the leaseholder or lender may require you to have collision and comprehensive coverage.

What Should You Do if Someone Hits Your Parked Car When It’s Stored?

There are a few things you need to do to make sure your vehicle is taken care of if it gets hit while stored:

  • Call 911 - You’ll always want to call the authorities if there is a car accident.
  • Gather information -  If you can, get the driver’s name, contact information and insurance information so their liability coverage will pay for the damages to your car.
  • Take pictures - You’ll need to get pictures of the damage to submit to the insurance company.
  • File a police report - You’ll need to give a statement to the police when they arrive. Be sure to get a copy of the police report when available so you can submit it as evidence to the insurance company.
  • Contact the insurance company - Contact the applicable insurance company. If you have the offending driver's information, you’ll contact their insurance provider. If they fled the scene before any information could be gathered, you’ll need to use your own collision coverage or uninsured motorist coverage, if you have it. Unfortunately, your rates will most likely go up if you decide to file a claim.

How To Get Car Insurance for A Stored Vehicle

You can get insurance for your stored vehicle in a couple of ways.

  • Storing an existing car that you already have insured - If you’re storing a vehicle you use to drive, you can get coverage for it by maintaining your comprehensive coverage and dropping the other coverages. This is called suspending coverage. Doing so will help you save money and your vehicle will be protected while it sits.
  • You're storing a newly purchased car - If you need coverage for a newly purchased vehicle that you’re storing, start by finding an insurance company that will get the coverage you need at the price you want. Once you’ve done that, provide them with the following information:
    • The address where both vehicles are registered
    • The current mileage of the vehicle being insured
    • The date you purchased the vehicle
    • The use of the vehicle (business or personal)
    • The Vehicle Information Number (VIN) for one or both vehicles depending on what’s being insured
    • Your driver’s license number
    • Your name and date of birth
    • Your prior insurance carrier if applicable

This information, along with your credit score, credit history and driving record will help the insurance company generate your rates. You can then purchase a comprehensive-only policy so your vehicle is covered while it isn’t being used.

Remember that once your vehicle is stored, you should not drive it. Comprehensive coverage is not enough to legally allow you to drive as most states require a minimum amount of liability insurance. Leave the car where it is. Notify your insurance provider if that changes, and they’ll get you the coverage you need. You should also file an affidavit of non-use with the state so your vehicle registration doesn’t get canceled.

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Tips To Prepare Your Car for Long-Term Storage

J.D. Power lists several steps to take when storing a vehicle for a long period of time.

Fill Up the Tank

A full tank and fuel stabilizer will help keep air and moisture out of the tank, preventing rust and corrosion. You will need to drain the fuel if you intend to drive the vehicle after several months as it will be unusable.

Change the Oil

Changing the oil just before storing the vehicle will help save the engine components from being damaged. Make sure to change the oil again when you’re ready to start driving the stored vehicle.

Protect the Engine Cylinders

Removing spark plugs and spraying protective oil into the cylinders can help protect the engine block. If you can’t, have a mechanic do it for you when you get your oil changed before storing your vehicle.

Maintain the Battery

Use a battery maintainer to intermittently charge the battery so it doesn’t die while it sits. If you don’t, the battery will need to be reconditioned after being stored.

Wrap the Wiper Blades

You can wrap your windshield wiper blades with plastic wrap to avoid adhesion to the windshield. You can also pull them to the “out” position or remove them altogether.

Plug the Exhaust Outlet

Plug up your exhaust with a rag or tinfoil to keep rodents and other creatures from making homes in your car. You can close up other openings to avoid the same thing. Unplug these openings before starting your vehicle.

Elevate the Vehicle

Consider using jack stands while storing the vehicle to avoid causing flat spots on your tires. Check your vehicle’s owner manual for more information.

Clean the Interior

Clear out any perishable items, use a sealer on the seats if their leather to avoid cracking and wipe, vacuum and dust the rest of the interior. Cover vents to keep anything from getting into your vehicle.

Clean the Exterior

Clean and wax the vehicle before storing it to avoid any wear on the paint from particles and grease.

No Parking Brake

Disengage the parking brake and chock the wheels. Failing to do so could result in the braking surface being fused and getting stuck.

Park on a Tarp

Park on a tarp to avoid any potential drips or leaks from the vehicle while it’s being stored.

Use a Car Cover

Use a soft fiber cover that’s breathable to protect the paint and metal of your car, whether it’s stored outside or in a garage.

If you have a vehicle that has collector merit and is stable or appreciating in value, you can protect your car with collector car insurance while it's in storage.

Car Storage Insurance FAQs

What does it mean when your car is stored?

A car is stored when it is inside or covered and parked in the same spot and left sitting for an extended period of time without the owner driving it. This could be for days, weeks, months or even years.

How often do you need to start a car in storage?

Consider starting your vehicle once a week and letting it run until it hits its normal operating temperature.

What is parked car insurance?

Parked car insurance is the same type of coverage you’d get for a stored car. It’s comprehensive coverage at least with the addition of collision if desired.

Key Takeaways

  • You can get car storage insurance by suspending coverage on an existing auto policy and keeping the comprehensive insurance or by purchasing a separate comprehensive-only policy.
  • Consider getting collision protection to protect your vehicle in case it is hit by another driver while it is stored.
  • Prep your vehicle before you store it to avoid damage while it sits.

Sources:

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