Updated June 15, 2022
If you’re planning a long trip, taking an extended hiatus from driving, or your car is being repaired, you might consider pausing your coverage. Putting it on pause isn’t the same as canceling it. But when can you pause it? And what options do you have if you can’t?
It’s essential to understand the basics of pausing car insurance before you take the leap. If cost is a factor, comparing car insurance quotes from different companies can help you lower your premiums.
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Drivers may be able to pause car insurance, but it depends on the state and insurer.
Motorists might consider it if they’re traveling abroad or putting a car in storage.
Policyholders have other options to lower insurance costs if they can’t pause their coverage.
Pausing Car Insurance
Can I pause my car insurance or temporarily put it on hold?
There is no legal way to freeze your car insurance policy if you’re still driving your car, but you may be able to cancel your coverage indefinitely if you’re away for a long period of time.
You may be able to temporarily suspend or pause your policy if you won’t be driving your vehicle for a while and don’t need coverage. However, this varies by insurer and state. Some states require ongoing coverage, so it depends on where you live.
You can’t typically pause your entire policy. Liability insurance is usually the only part of your policy that can be paused — and only if you have another type of coverage in place, such as comprehensive insurance.
Depending on state law, you may need to file an affidavit of nonuse with your local department of motor vehicles (DMV) if you put your auto insurance on hold. Some insurers will automatically submit this document for you, but others won’t. It’s best to ask your insurer about their procedure before pausing car insurance.
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What if you’re financing a car?
If you’re leasing or financing a vehicle, there’s a good chance that the loan terms prevent pausing car insurance. That’s because lienholders and lessors want the car protected from damage whether it’s being driven or not.
Your lender may let you drop liability coverage if you won’t be driving your car for an extended time. However, you may have to keep comprehensive coverage to cover physical damage from trees, storms, vandalism, and other non-collision accidents.
Driving a Vehicle after Pausing Insurance
If you don’t have liability coverage, you’ll be uninsured and won’t be able to drive the vehicle legally in most circumstances. It might be tempting, but you must restore coverage before driving the vehicle.
When to Pause Car Insurance
When you pause car insurance, your insurer stops providing coverage for a specific time. How long the auto policy is suspended depends on why you want to pause coverage. For instance, you might consider putting a hold on your policy if you’re:
Putting the car into long-term storage
Vacationing or traveling abroad long-term
Being deployed overseas
Driving a seasonal or vintage car
Dealing with a suspended driver’s license
Suffering from an illness or injury that prevents you from driving
Waiting on car repairs and can’t drive the car until it’s fixed
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Pros and Cons of Suspending Your Car Insurance
If you don’t have an immediate need for car insurance, you may be considering putting your policy on pause. It seems like a win-win situation — you can save some money on insurance premiums without letting your policy lapse. But it’s not always a good idea. Consider these benefits and downsides:
Pros of Pausing Car Insurance
Lower auto insurance premiums
Avoid an insurance lapse that can lead to higher premiums in the future
Can keep comprehensive coverage to protect from damage
May be able to pause it for long periods
Cons of Pausing Car Insurance
No protection if you drive without coverage in place
Might be against lender or lessor policy
Insurance options may not allow it
State law might prohibit it
See More: Cheap Car Insurance
Alternatives to Pausing Car Insurance
You may want to pause your car insurance if you’re going away for a while or don’t plan on driving your car. Unfortunately, it isn’t always an option. While it may not be possible for everyone to simply pause their car insurance coverage, there are many ways that you can keep your rates low and avoid paying for a service that you’re not using.
Lower Your Coverage
Your car insurance premium is the amount you pay for coverage. Think of that as your monthly rent. If you don’t make payments, you won’t have protection. But if you need to lower your rate temporarily, you might lower your coverage instead of pausing your car insurance. Here are two ways to lower your costs.
Drop full coverage: This coverage helps pay to repair or replace your vehicle if it’s damaged in an accident or stolen. But it costs more than liability-only insurance. Dropping it could save you money. But without full-coverage insurance, you’ll have to pay for repairs out of pocket if you get into an accident or your car is stolen.
Lower liability limits: Liability coverage is almost always required by law and covers bodily injury and property damage claims that you cause in an accident. Lowering your amount of coverage should lower your costs. But going too low means that you could pay tens of thousands (or even hundreds of thousands) of dollars out of pocket if someone sues you.
Keep in mind these two options could lower your premiums, but they can also increase your financial risk. Plus, you may not have the option if your car is financed or leased. If you have a loan or lease, you may need to keep your insurance active until it’s paid off and the lienholder is removed — even if you aren’t driving the car anymore.
Switch to a Usage-Based Policy
One option sometimes used by drivers to lower costs is to switch to a usage-based policy. These policies rely on telematics — devices installed in your car that monitor and report your driving behavior — to determine your rates. If you don’t drive much or at all during your policy period, your bill can go down dramatically.
However, usage-based policies aren’t always cheaper. You could pay significantly more than a standard auto insurance policy if you drive a lot. But it could work out well if you drive very little or won’t be driving for several months.
Ask About Discounts
If pausing your car insurance policy isn’t an option, ask about car insurance discounts to lower your premiums. Most major and regional insurers offer discounts, such as good driver, defensive driving, automatic payments, multi-car, and bundling discounts. You may have to ask about them because they can sometimes not be automatic.
Remove Yourself from the Policy
If you’re named as a driver on a policy that’s not in your name, the primary named insured can remove you from the coverage, which will likely lower their car insurance rates. However, you may not be able to drive the vehicles covered under that policy after you’re removed.
Cancel Your Coverage
You might consider canceling your coverage if you’re getting rid of your car. After all, you’ll no longer have a vehicle to insure. The cancellation process can often be completed online or over the phone. Just ask your insurance company about the process to ensure you do it properly.
Shop for New and Cheaper Car Insurance
Whether you’re a new driver or an experienced one, shopping around for car insurance rates can help you save on a new policy. Using an online quote-comparison tool can speed up the process and give you several options to compare side by side.
Should You Pause Car Insurance?
When you pause auto coverage, remember that you’re still responsible for insuring your car. Your state laws or lender may require you to keep a minimum amount of coverage on the vehicle, even if you aren’t driving it for an extended time.
If you think you might want to pause your car insurance, the first step is to reach out to your insurance provider — and your lender if the car is financed or leased. Talk with a representative to determine your options before pausing your auto insurance coverage.
Frequently Asked Questions
You may be able to pause your car insurance in some situations. If you’re traveling abroad or have had your driver’s license suspended, contact your insurance agent or auto insurance company to ask about your options. Your state or lender may not allow it, so make sure you get all the facts before pausing coverage.
Pausing your car insurance suspends the policy for a short term. If you suspend liability coverage but keep comprehensive insurance, you may not legally be able to drive the vehicle. But comprehensive coverage can pay for damages from fallen trees, storms, and theft.
It depends on the lender. Many lenders have minimum insurance requirements built into their contract terms. Contact your lienholder or lessor to find out what your options are. Even if they allow you to drop liability coverage, they may require you to keep comprehensive coverage.
If you can’t pause your car insurance, you have other options. You may lower your coverage, switch to a usage-based policy, take advantage of every available discount, remove yourself from the policy, cancel your coverage, or shop around to find a cheaper policy at a different company.
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Data scientists at Insurify analyzed over 40 million auto insurance rates 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. With these insights, Insurify is able to offer drivers insight into how their car insurance premiums are priced by companies.