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Drivers put their vehicles in storage for a variety of reasons, from long-term travel to protecting an expensive sports car during the winter months. While there’s no federal legal requirement to maintain an insurance policy on a stored car, it’s wise (and maybe required) to keep coverage that protects the vehicle in case of damage from things like vandalism and severe weather.

We can help you understand your options for insuring and protecting a vehicle that’s stored or parked for a long period of time. You can probably save money by simply reducing your current coverage. And if you’re shopping for a new auto insurance policy, you can compare quotes online to find the right coverage for you.

Quick Facts
  • No federal law requires auto insurance for motor vehicles that are kept in storage or not driven.

  • However, there are reasons you might want or need to keep at least some type of insurance on your stored car.

  • The good news is you can likely reduce your insurance premiums while still maintaining essential coverage.

Reasons to Keep Car Insurance Coverage for Stored Cars

Do I need insurance for a car in storage?

Legally, no, a car not being driven does not need to be insured. However, to protect against theft or damage, insurance is always a good idea.

You might be tempted to completely cancel the insurance on a car you’re not using so that you don’t have to keep paying the premium. But completely scrapping your auto coverage could cost you much more in the long run, and it might not even be allowed, depending on where you live and if you have a loan on the car.

Property damage can happen to your vehicle even if you’re not driving it. If you’re storing a car in your garage and a tree falls and flattens your vehicle, you need coverage to help pay for the replacement. Odds are, homeowners insurance won’t cover this. Keeping insurance on your vehicle while it’s stored ensures that it’s still protected.

If you’ve taken out a loan for your vehicle, your lender might require you to maintain auto insurance — usually full coverage — even if you’re storing it or not driving it for an extended period of time. Check with your loan company about its requirements.

If you cancel your plan entirely and later try to buy a new plan, insurance providers will see that you’ve had a gap in your coverage. This will suggest to them that you’re high-risk to insure. The outcome is higher premiums on your future auto insurance.

Luckily, there’s a good chance you can at least reduce your coverage so that you still get the essential protection you need but at a lower cost than your current car insurance policy.

Best Car Insurance Companies

Best Car Insurance Companies

Car Storage Insurance Options

There’s not a specific type of coverage called “car storage insurance” or “parked car insurance.” Usually, these terms simply refer to what’s known as comprehensive insurance — coverage for damage that’s not caused by a collision but by things like natural disasters, theft, and vandalism. If you’re not driving the vehicle at all, this is theoretically the only coverage you need.

A good rule of thumb is that if you’re keeping your car parked for more than a month, you might not need “full coverage” and thus might be able to drop or reduce some parts of your insurance, like collision, liability, and uninsured motorist coverage. Reducing your policy, especially to comprehensive only, will lower the cost of your premiums but keep your protection.

Before reducing auto insurance coverage on your stored vehicle, it’s important to check your state’s minimum requirements so that you don’t accidentally end up with less coverage than legally mandated. And remember to restore appropriate coverage before driving the vehicle again. Driving without the right insurance isn’t only illegal — it could ruin your finances, too.

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What Comprehensive Insurance Costs and Covers

An auto insurance policy typically includes one or more components that cover different things and situations. Comprehensive coverage is the part of a policy that helps pay for repairs or replacement if the vehicle is damaged while not in use. It’s very important to note that you cannot drive a vehicle if it has only comprehensive coverage.

Comprehensive coverage is useful because it applies to damage resulting from a variety of risks that could endanger a vehicle even while it’s parked or in storage, including:

This type of coverage might be optional for you, but it’s a wise one to have, whether the vehicle is in storage or not. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), the average cost of comprehensive insurance is only $134 per year. Since this insurance could theoretically replace your car in the event of a catastrophe, it’s a lot of coverage for not much money.

Some insurers will require proof that your vehicle has been in storage for at least 30 days before allowing you to reduce your policy to comprehensive coverage only.

How to Prepare Your Vehicle for Storage

This depends on where you’re leaving it, for how long, and what type of maintenance will be provided during storage. For example, are you leaving it in your cousin’s driveway for a year or in a full-service storage facility for three months? Regardless of location or duration, be sure to remove all valuables from the vehicle.

No matter where it’s stored, you should change the oil and refill all the vehicle fluids like antifreeze, coolant, wiper fluid, and brake fluid. You also need to fill the gas tank, add a fuel-stabilizing product, and then drive for about 40 miles before leaving it parked or in storage. If you’re not connecting the battery to a tender for the duration of storage, remove it.

You’ll also need to decide whether to remove the car’s tires and store it on blocks or leave the tires on. If keeping them on, add 10 extra pounds of pressure to each. And if you’re storing the vehicle outdoors — even in a covered location — invest in a well-fitting, weatherproof cover. Be sure to plug/cover openings like tailpipes so insects or animals can’t make their way inside.

Cheap Car Insurance

Cheap Car Insurance

Considerations If You Cancel Your Coverage

If you’ve decided to cancel your coverage completely (for example, if the vehicle is no longer running and you don’t intend to repair it), you need to cancel your vehicle registration first so that you don’t have any gaps in coverage. Insurance gaps can result in higher premiums when you try to reinstate coverage, whether you’re working with the same insurer or a different one.

Depending on where you live, if you entirely cancel your auto insurance, you might also be required to return the vehicle’s license plates to the local department of motor vehicles. Check your state’s rules regarding registration cancellation and car insurance mandates.

Keep Essential Coverage on Stored Vehicles

You’ll probably want or need some type of vehicle insurance even if your car’s parking brake will be engaged for a while. Comprehensive coverage is a popular choice because it costs less than full coverage but still protects your car against non-collision damages that can happen during storage. But check your lender’s and state’s requirements before changing your insurance.

If you’re already insured, contact your current company to ask about coverage options if you’re planning to store your vehicle or if it will be out of commission for more than a month.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How can I find a good vehicle storage facility?

    First, consider the level of protection you want. Do you need an indoor or covered storage unit, or are you OK with keeping the vehicle outdoors? Also, look at the security and other services that storage facilities might offer, like routine maintenance. As with all shopping, ask around and read online reviews before deciding where to spend your money.

  • What should I do if my car is damaged while in a storage facility?

    You’ll need to work with both the storage facility and your car insurance provider to determine who is responsible for covering the losses. Depending on the details of the situation, you might need to file an insurance claim.

  • How can I save money on my car insurance?

    Many factors determine insurance rates, including your insurance history. To save on premiums, consider raising your deductible or bundling with your home insurance or life insurance. Call your insurance agency and ask about any discounts you might be eligible for. And always shop around to compare plans and get insurance quotes from multiple companies.

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Data scientists at Insurify analyzed more than 40 million real-time auto insurance rates from our partner providers across the United States to compile the car insurance quotes, statistics, and data visualizations displayed on this page. The car insurance data includes coverage analysis and details on drivers' vehicles, driving records, and demographic information. Quotes for Allstate, Farmers, GEICO, State Farm, and USAA are estimates based on Quadrant Information Service's database of auto insurance rates. With these insights, Insurify is able to offer drivers insight into how companies price their car insurance premiums.

Mallory Profeta
Mallory ProfetaInsurance Writer

Mal Profeta is a writer, editor, educator, and public health advocate. They serve as the communications director of an NIH-funded clinical and translational science research center that focuses on addressing health disparities in Appalachia. A former Fulbright recipient, they hold a bachelor's degree from Transylvania University and a master's from New York University.