Do you need car insurance if you don’t drive your car?

There are some situations in which you can choose not to insure a car that isn’t being driven.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: May 13, 2022

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Things to remember...

  • You are legally required to insure cars that are registered in most cases
  • It is possible to suspend your car insurance for a time, under certain circumstances
  • A car that is not insured can’t be driven on the roads at all

Many people have at least one car that they use to drive to and from work, school, errands, and trips to the local coffee shop. These cars have to be insured at all times in order to meet legal requirements.

But what if you have a car that you do not currently drive? Does this vehicle need car insurance while sitting idle, or can you let any current policies lapse and skip paying for insurance until you are back on the road? Read on to learn more.

Car Insurance When You Don’t Drive Much

While a car that isn’t being driven doesn’t have to be actively covered by insurance as long as it’s on private property, it’s in your best interests to keep your policy active. Even if you own an old clunker that you plan to pass on to your kids someday, or have a collector car that sits in your garage away from the elements, you should make sure that your car is properly insured. 

Having a lapse in coverage can increase your rates dramatically when you do decide to purchase insurance again. You can also face severe consequences if you take your stored vehicle out for a spin without an active policy. 

If you want to remove the insurance from your car, check with your state’s DMV to find out what you need to do. You may need to surrender your plates or register the car as non-operational.

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Suspending Car Insurance

If you are heading off to college or traveling abroad for an extended period of time, you may be asking yourself, “Can you pause your car insurance if you have no plans of driving for a while?”

Depending on which insurance company you have, this might be an option, which could in turn save you money. 

In addition to going to college, a trip, or temporary relocation out of the country, being deployed in the military may also qualify you for a suspension in insurance. This is an option for people who wish to use their vehicle when they return, and cannot take it with them.

Car Insurance for Non-Drivers

While most people who don’t drive generally do not own a car, there are circumstances where they will have one. 

For example, if someone is widowed or a widower and the late spouse did all of the driving, they may have a vehicle sitting in the driveway that they do not know how to operate. The same is true for someone who has inherited a vehicle, but they never learned how to drive that style of car. A common example of this would be someone who only knows how to drive an automatic but now owns a stick shift vehicle.

So, is car insurance required for non-drivers? Yes, if that car will ever be driven by anyone on a public street, or even parked on one. Remember that insurance follows the vehicle. If anyone drives that car for any reason, it has to be insured by you, the owner. You may be able to drop your policy down to more affordable car insurance with lower liability limits.

You should also look into getting comprehensive insurance coverage for the car. This way, if it is hit by a falling tree branch when it’s parked in your driveway, your vehicle will still be protected. 

If you have a car you don’t drive, a comprehensive policy will also protect that car against vandalism, floods, and riot damage. However, you can’t drive or park a car that has no liability insurance on any public road.

Car Insurance is Required Most of the Time

While many people believe that you do not need car insurance if you’re not driving a car that sits idle, state laws vary. You may need special registration, since most states will revoke your registration if your insurance lapses.

While you can sometimes qualify for certain exceptions and loopholes, you should insure any car that is in your possession unless you have taken the proper steps to put the car in storage. Being caught without insurance can result in hefty fines, so never take an uninsured car out on a public street. 

If your current car insurance is still too expensive for your parked vehicle, shop around to make sure you are getting the best possible quote for your unique circumstance.

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