The year 2020 has undoubtedly presented the world with its fair share of challenges, and the presence of COVID has likely impacted you beyond just the scope of your health. With so many businesses forced to close, and millions of people finding themselves out of work, keeping up with rent and mortgage payments can be difficult.

More and more individuals are facing financial instability and, when presented with the reality that they can no longer continue living in their former residence, turning to living in their cars. Often referred to as “vehicular homelessness,” it’s a circumstance that’s becoming common.

For some, sleeping in a vehicle is no different than spending time in a camper or taking a snooze at a rest stop, but it’s essential to keep in mind that truly living in your car does have some specific considerations. It’s not illegal to live in your van or an SUV; however, you’ll want to think about how it will impact a variety of areas in your day-to-day routine.

One aspect to remember is that you’ll still need to have car insurance, even if you aren’t driving your vehicle. Whether you are currently uninsured or need to find a new policy to cut costs, Insurify can help. Finding car insurance quotes is as easy as a few clicks, and before you know it, you’ll be able to cross that task off your to-do list.

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Why Auto Insurance Is Mandatory

Typically, we think about auto insurance as something that’s needed as we drive to and from work or when we head out on a fun road trip. The reality is that even if we’re spending a night or two in a Walmart parking lot or we park in the driveway of a family member’s home, car insurance is still a must.

If you’re both living in the backseat of your vehicle and using it to get to and from work, you must have auto coverage. Not only is it a legal requirement to operate your car on the road, but it will protect you in the event of an accident. Yet if you’re not driving anywhere, why exactly would you still need coverage?

Individuals living in their car likely have more than just a sleeping bag and toiletries in their vehicle. If you don’t have the means to afford storage space for your belongings, you might have nearly everything you own carefully packed inside your car. At the very least, you’ll want to have auto insurance that protects you in the event of vandalism or theft.

While you may not be operating your vehicle, that doesn’t mean that others won’t be driving in your vicinity. Parking at a truck stop to use the restroom or even leaving your vehicle unattended for a few hours while you utilize your gym membership to shower means that someone else could hit your car. Although it wouldn’t be your fault necessarily, having auto insurance in these situations will help.

How to Get Cheap Car Insurance Quotes Online

Car dwellers are typically dealing with an extreme period of financial instability, and with many people currently out of work or left waiting to receive the state benefits they applied for, cutting costs is a high priority. It might be tempting to avoid the hassle and expense of enrolling in auto insurance, but you could end up spending far less than you think.

Rather than draining your cell phone battery trying to compare car insurance quotes across multiple websites, try using Insurify. Our easy-to-use auto insurance quote comparison platform asks just a few simple questions before retrieving real-time pricing from multiple companies at once. The average Insurify user saves nearly $500 a year simply by being able to locate and enroll in the lowest rates available.

In many cases, it’s recommended that you take your time exploring the range of coverage limits, deductibles, and premiums that are associated with auto insurance so that you find the best policy for your needs. However, if you’re currently living in your vehicle and working on cutting your expenses, the cheapest option might be the best one for the time being.

Tips for Living in Your Car

Whether you’re going to be living in your car for a short period or if it looks like it could be the norm for a while, there are a multitude of things you can do to make this transition easier. First, it’s recommended that you keep your car registration current and that you have a valid driver’s license and insurance, even if you won’t be going anywhere.

It’s also essential that you determine what address you’ll be using to receive mail, as this will be required when you register for auto insurance and will also come in handy when it comes time to pay monthly bills. You may find that a P.O. box will suffice, or a friend or family member may allow you to use their address as your own even if you won’t be living with them.

Other tips to make living in your car as comfortable as possible include:

  • Utilize free Wi-Fi whenever possible. Whether you’re job hunting online or simply want to check your email, visiting a coffee shop to use their internet will eliminate the hassle of relying on your cell phone data plan only. See if you can set up a DC-to-AC inverter system to provide electricity to your larger devices while you’re driving, too. 
  • Purchase a pair of foam earplugs to help block out noise when you sleep. Parking in some environments, like truck stops, will naturally be louder than residential areas.
  • Unless you’re a van dweller, consider renting a storage unit that’s close to where you’ll be parking your vehicle. Rather than keeping everything you own in your trunk or hatchback, this will allow you to have more space in your car and provide a place for you to store larger items.
  • Rethink how you eat and visit the grocery store more often for smaller purchases rather than trying to stock up on non-perishable foods. While it may be convenient to eat more fast food, it can add up quickly and make it difficult to cut expenses.
  • Invest in a sunshade and window shades to provide you with more privacy. During colder months, these can even act as an additional layer of insulation. You can find affordable and durable options on Amazon or at a local store.
  • Make sure you’re aware of city parking ordinances—in most states, you can’t simply park your car and spend the night wherever you’d like. Sometimes, church parking lots and campsites are great options as well as rest areas or residential areas, but it’s always best to do your research first.
  • Car living means you won’t have regular access to hot water, so it’s best to know where your closest laundromat is. Many people who live in their vehicle choose to enroll in a low-cost gym membership or visit the YMCA for showering and restroom purposes so they can avoid relying on a porta-potty or other more public settings. 

Living in your car certainly makes your day-to-day life different from how it likely was when you lived in an apartment or a house; however, it’s not impossible. When financial instability strikes, as it has for millions of now homeless people across the United States, living in your car can help cut expenses.

We’re Here to Help—and So Are They

Navigating financial instability can be challenging, but you don’t have to go it alone. Depending on where you live, the following resources may be available to you:

  • The HUD program offers assistance to homeless people and can help you secure a permanent residence.
  • Individuals on the West Coast, particularly in California, can access a list of places to park in their area. Bay Area residents and those in the Los Angeles area have several options.
  • Some homeless people require legal assistance but may not be able to afford traditional lawyer fees. The American Bar Association offers free legal help in some situations.
  • Financial instability can be difficult to overcome, and those needing short-term financial assistance can contact for help.

The above resources are just a few of the ways that individuals living in their vehicles can obtain help. Remember, living in your car doesn’t have to be a permanent situation.

Car Insurance for Living In Your Car FAQ

Is it illegal to live out of my car?

While living in your car isn’t technically illegal, there are stipulations in each city and state regarding where you can park. Explore your local parking ordinances to make sure you won’t be asked to move your vehicle in the middle of the night.

What things should I have if I’m living out of my car?

The items you’ll want when living in your car will vary based upon your specific situation. Still, most people find they need a sleeping bag, earplugs, a phone charger that plugs into your vehicle’s cigarette lighter, and a foam mattress.

How can I compare cheap car insurance quotes online?

Cutting costs is a must when living in your car, but rest assured, you can find cheap car insurance quotes online through Insurify. You’ll be able to compare prices in a matter of minutes and find a policy that gives you the coverage you need at an affordable rate.

Conclusion: How to get the best and cheapest car insurance

While living in your car may not be your first choice, you can still find ways to navigate this situation and work toward changing your circumstances. One of the ways to do so is by cutting out any unnecessary expenses, including paying for an expensive car insurance policy.

Many people often don’t realize how much they’re overpaying for coverage until they visit Insurify. Our platform allows you to quickly and easily see which options will be right for you by comparing multiple quotes in a matter of minutes. We quote all across the country, from Maine to Florida to California.

Cheap car insurance offers you peace of mind as you’ll be saving money while also knowing your vehicle is covered in the event of an accident. Even if you enroll in state-minimum coverage limits or have liability protection only, you’ll be prepared for whatever comes your way.

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Updated April 26, 2021

A former licensed insurance producer, Courtney Levin has been a freelance writer since 2016. She graduated from Sonoma State University with a degree in Communications and has been creating content for Insurify for nearly two years.