- You need to carry insurance on any car that is registered with your state’s department of motor vehicles
- If your vehicle is not registered and does not have a license plate, you are not required to carry insurance on it
- A comprehensive car insurance policy will cover a parked or stored vehicle for vandalism, theft, weather damage, and more
If you own a car that doesn’t run, you may think it’s pointless to carry an auto insurance policy on that vehicle. And truthfully, a car insurance policy may feel like a waste if your car is not running and you do not plan to drive it.
But should you carry insurance on a car that does not run? The answer depends on where you live and whether your vehicle is registered.
If you have registered your car with your state’s department of motor vehicles, you may be required to carry auto insurance on the car. This is because your car has a license plate and could be repaired and ready to drive at any time.
Any vehicle that is not registered and does not have a license plate does not legally have to carry a car insurance policy. So, for this reason, any vehicle you have that’s registered but not currently running could be unregistered, allowing you not to have to carry insurance on the car.
If your vehicle is not registered but is stored, and you do not plan to drive it, you do not have to carry any insurance on the car. Still, you may want to carry a comprehensive policy on the vehicle to protect it from weather damage, theft, and other things.
Does a car need insurance if it doesn’t run?
You must carry a car insurance policy on any registered vehicle with a corresponding license plate in most states. So even if your car doesn’t run, if it is registered in your state, you will likely need at least a cheap liability car insurance policy on the vehicle.
What kind of car insurance do I need on a car that isn’t working?
If you have not registered the car with your state or live in a state that does not require a registered vehicle to be insured when it's not being driven, you may still want to consider carrying insurance on your car.
The most notable option for car insurance on a car that isn’t running is comprehensive coverage. This insurance option will cover your vehicle in the following scenarios:
- Natural disasters
- Falling debris
A car may have been in an accident or damaged in other ways that kept it from working. If this is your situation, you should also consider a comprehensive insurance policy on the vehicle while you have it repaired.
How much is comprehensive auto insurance?
You’ll be happy to know that comprehensive car insurance is not typically very expensive. The average cost for a comprehensive policy in the U.S. is less than $200 annually.
Certain factors can cause your comprehensive policy to be more expensive than average. Still, you will never know exactly how your specific circumstances will impact your comprehensive car insurance rates until you shop around and compare quotes from multiple companies.
What is a coverage gap?
In terms of car insurance, a coverage gap refers to a specific timeframe in which you owned a car registered in your name when you did not carry insurance on the vehicle. Gaps in insurance coverage are the main reason canceling insurance on a car that doesn’t run can be bad.
While you are not likely to get in much legal trouble for canceling your auto insurance on a registered car that doesn’t run, you may find that purchasing a car insurance policy on the vehicle in the future is exceptionally difficult.
When insurance companies see a gap in coverage — anywhere from a few weeks to months or even years — the companies are less willing to provide insurance coverage.
Gaps in coverage signify many things, like missed payments or car accidents. Unfortunately, these events give insurance companies plenty of reasons not to offer a policy. However, you can do a few things to avoid a gap in auto insurance coverage on your vehicle.
How can I avoid a coverage gap?
Since a gap in coverage can cause your auto insurance rates to increase significantly in the future, you will want to avoid this whenever possible.
The easiest way to avoid having a gap in your insurance coverage is to maintain a car insurance policy. If you have a vehicle you don’t drive, this could be as simple as having a liability-only policy or even a comprehensive-only policy.
If you don’t want to continue paying for car insurance on a vehicle you don’t plan to drive, you can speak with your insurance company to see if you can suspend your policy. Suspending a car insurance policy allows you to maintain a current account with your insurance company that you will begin paying for as soon as your vehicle is up and running.
You can speak with your insurer, or price options with other insurance companies, about purchasing a storage insurance policy. This type of policy will likely carry specific requirements regarding how you store your car, but it could provide the coverage you need at a low price.
A suspended policy can help you save some money on coverage, but you will have to pay for repairs out of your pocket if your car is damaged by theft, natural disasters, or anything else.
Your last resort for avoiding a gap in car insurance coverage is to cancel your vehicle’s registration. Of course, this will mean you will need to re-register your vehicle if and when you ever decide to drive it again. Still, it will help you avoid any gaps in coverage or legal ramifications for not carrying the proper insurance.
The Bottom Line: Should I insure my car that isn’t running?
You should try to maintain some level of coverage on your vehicle even if it isn’t running. This is especially true if your car is registered in your state and is only temporarily out of order.
Choosing not to carry insurance on your vehicle is a possibility, but you should check with your state’s motor vehicles department before deciding. In most cases, you will need to cancel your car’s registration.