What is car storage insurance?

1
shunli zhao/Getty Images
Bankrate Logo

Why you can trust Bankrate

While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation for . This content is powered by HomeInsurance.com (NPN: 8781838). For more information, please see our

If you do not plan on driving your car for a while and are wondering what options you have, you may have read about car storage insurance and are currently wondering about car storage insurance costs.

What is car storage insurance

First things first: vehicle storage insurance is not an insurance policy. It is another way to think of bare-minimum coverage for vehicles not being driven. If you do not plan on driving your car for an extended period of time, auto storage insurance is just removing coverage from your policy or placing your vehicle in a storage status with your insurer. These changes can help keep your car insurance premiums low while your vehicle is not being used.

How to get car storage insurance

Your best bet is to talk with an insurance agent. They will be able to tell you if you are eligible for putting your vehicle in a storage status, what the process is and what you can do to fulfill your state’s and lender’s requirements.

Most insurance companies allow you to make changes to your policy at any time (unless a massive storm is on its way). This means you can add and remove coverage options at any point during your term or place your vehicle in storage if needed.

The most important thing for you to realize is that you cannot simply cancel your car insurance policy. If you decide to cancel your policy but still keep your car registered, your state may revoke your driving privileges— meaning you will have to pay state fees, like a license reinstatement fee, to get your driving privileges back. The amount of the fee depends on the state. Some states, like Kentucky, only charge $40, while others, like Massachusetts, can charge between $100- $1,200 depending on the situation. There are other costs associated with canceling your policy, too. If you cancel your insurance and your vehicle is financed or leased, your lender could also charge fees.

When to use car storage coverage

You may want to consider looking into alternative insurance options, like vehicle storage, when:

  • You do not plan on driving the car for several months or more.
  • You inherited a car but do not have any active plans to use it in the near future.
  • You are traveling or are a student and will be away for an extended period of time.
  • You are in the military and are being deployed.
  • If your vehicle has a mechanical issue and cannot be driven for an extended time.
  • You have a vehicle kept at a secondary/seasonal residence and only use it a few months out of the year.

Basically, you may consider putting your car in storage if you plan on not driving your vehicle at all for an extended period. If you drive your car while your vehicle is in storage status, it is unlikely that your insurance company will provide coverage should an accident occur. This means that you would pay out-of-pocket for all damages and injuries from an at-fault accident.

How to prepare for storing a car

  1. Find an indoor place to store your vehicle: A garage or public storage facility will keep your car safe from the elements.
  2. Have it cleaned: Any dirt or gunk left on the car for an extended period of time can damage the paint, which would also make your car vulnerable to rust. You may also want to consider getting a wax job for extra protection.
  3. Change the oil: Old used oil can damage your car’s engine, especially if it will sit for a while.
  4. Fill up your gas tank and add a fuel stabilizer: Topping off your gas tank will prevent the seals from drying out during storage. The fuel stabilizer will prevent the gas from deteriorating for up to 12 months, which will protect your car’s engine.
  5. Start it on occasion (if possible): If you do not, the battery will die, and you will need to jump when you are ready to use it. If you do start it up, remember not to drive it. Another option, instead of starting it, may be to simply unplug the negative cable. Some insurance companies may require you to disconnect the battery before changing your car insurance coverage to storage status.
  6. Disengage the parking brake: It is unwise to use your parking brake for too long because it may fuse with the rotors. Use a tire chock instead.
  7. Make sure your tires are properly inflated: Tires can lose air pressure in colder temperatures, so if it is a possibility you may need to drive it again before the weather warms up, get them up to grade before you leave.
  8. Optional— remove your tires and rest the car on jacks: Tires can develop flat spots if they are stored too long without moving, which may require you to purchase new tires when you bring your car out of storage.
  9. Protect your car from pests: mice and other rodents will seek your car out during colder months, looking for a dry, warm nesting area. Clog up the exhaust pipe and cover up the air intake. You may also want to consider other mice deterrents such as mothballs or mouse traps.

Frequently asked questions

Do I need insurance for a stored car?

If your vehicle is registered, you need car insurance on it unless you live in one of the few states that do not require insurance, like New Hampshire. When you put a vehicle in storage status, your insurer will notify the state you have suspended liability coverage, and any other state required coverages, from your policy. Because of this, you may have to sign an affidavit from the state.

If you are not placing your vehicle in storage status and only adjusting your comprehensive and collision coverage, generally you do not need to fill out any additional paperwork.

Are there any car storage discounts?

Yes, there are companies that offer a storage discount in addition to the reduction in premiums from adjusting your coverage. Here are a few:

  • USAA offers a storage discount of up to 60% for military personnel who are deployed.
  • Erie offers a “reduced usage discount” for vehicles stored for 90 consecutive days or more.

What is the benefit of putting your car in storage?

Not only can you see savings with insurance costs by putting your vehicle in storage, keeping comprehensive coverage on your policy will help cover repair costs should something happen to your vehicle while it is in storage. For example, if a fire starts in the garage where your vehicle is stored and your vehicle is totaled, your comprehensive coverage would help cover these expenses.

Written by
Lauren Ward
Insurance Contributor
Lauren Ward has nearly 10 years of experience in writing for insurance domains such as Bankrate, The Simple Dollar, and Reviews.com. She covers auto, homeowners, and life insurance, as well other topics in the personal finance industry.
Edited by
Senior Insurance Editor