Do I need insurance for a stored car?

You still need liability insurance for a car in storage in most states. Comprehensive coverage is also important to protect against damage from storms and floods.

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A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Jan 22, 2021

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Every state has its own requirements.
  • Where you keep your car impacts your need for liability insurance.
  • Your need for coverage depends on how you plan to use your vehicle.
  • If your car is financed, you must carry liability and comprehensive insurance.

Liability coverage on a car is typically the most important type of auto insurance coverage to carry. It protects you from potentially huge financial losses if you are deemed at fault in a car accident.

There are certain specific cases when liability insurance on a car is less important. In fact, for those with vehicles in storage, the question of whether or not liability coverage is even necessary at all arises often.

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Your State’s Requirements for Insurance on Stored Cars

Every state has its own requirements concerning certain aspects of car insurance.

It is important to check the requirements for your state prior to making any changes to your policy, including removing liability coverage from a car that is stored.

There are some states where you do not need to carry liability insurance coverage while in others you must.

For example, in the state of New York, every registered car (not including motorcycles) you own must have liability insurance on it at all times, even if it is in storage and you do not have the intention of driving it. Be sure to check out the laws where you live.

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Registration and Liability Coverage for Cars in Storage

  • Is your car registered? The key to accurately answering the question of whether or not you need liability insurance on a car in storage depends greatly on whether or not the vehicle is registered. If your vehicle is registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state, it is likely to require coverage.
  • Where is your vehicle parked? Where your car is stored will often be the determining factor of whether or not you need to register it. If the vehicle is parked on the street or in a driveway, it should be registered and insured. However, if it is stored in a garage or a backyard, typically registration is not necessary.
  • What is your state’s policy on unregistered vehicles? Your state’s DMV may require you to turn in your license plates if you opt to not register the car. This means that it will take additional time and forethought if you want to use that car.
  • How often do you plan to use your vehicle? If you have a vehicle that is in storage most of the time and is used just a couple of times a year, as in the case of antique cars, you may be able to get a special type of registration for just that situation. This will be less costly and will allow you to get liability coverage for just the occasions when you are going to use it.

There are insurance companies out there that offer special types of liability coverage for these situations.  Some offer policies for as little as a day while others may charge by miles driven.

Other Insurance Considerations for Cars In Storage

If your vehicle is financed, you will need to carry comprehensive coverage in addition to any state mandated coverage for stored vehicles. In fact, comprehensive coverage is excellent to have on any vehicle in storage as it takes care of practically all the perils that commonly occur.

Theft, vandalism, and fire are all covered by comprehensive coverage.

You should know that even if you store your vehicle in your own garage and a loss occurs, your homeowner’s insurance will not cover it, even in the case of fire.

For this reason, an auto insurance policy which includes comprehensive coverage on all cars of value you own is important.

If a vehicle is stored, the need for collision damage is nil, because it is not being used. The same is true for coverage such as Personal Injury Protection and Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist protection.

Many companies offer a special stored vehicle insurance policy that gives you the coverage that you absolutely need with none of the unnecessary extras. Be sure to ask your insurer if one is available.

As with any type of car insurance coverage, premiums will be based on the same factors as a traditional plan. Ask for discounts for low mileage, multi-vehicle plans and any others you may qualify for.

After you have found out the type of coverage that you need to carry on your stored vehicle, the next task is to find the best provider for that coverage.

In your search for car insurance, you should take the time to get as many insurance quotes as possible and compare cost and coverage.

There may be big differences in the quotes you are given, especially because some companies specialize in offering such policies while others shy away from it.

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