Summer Only Car Insurance

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Important facts to know...

  • All vehicles that are in storage for winter and fall need to be insured as long as they have valid plates
  • One way to avoid financial responsibility laws on stored cars is to file the vehicle as non-operable with the DMV
  • If you intend to keep your vehicle registered, you can’t strictly buy auto insurance during the summer
  • One way to keep low rates while your vehicle is in storage is to lower liability limits and eliminate other coverage
  • Raise your third-party limits on your insurance before driving your vehicle so that you’re not vulnerable to lawsuits

Summer is the most-loved season of the year. It’s a time where the sun comes up, the cold gives way to warmth, and many families plan their summer getaways.

Not only do you spend a lot more time soaking in the sun in the great outdoors, you may also spend a lot more time in your favorite car that you’ve waited to drive since last Halloween.

Before you take your car out of storage, you need to be sure that the vehicle is properly insured. In fact, it’s your responsibility to insure your vehicle at all times, in storage or not.

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How much insurance you’ll need and the type of coverage that you elect to carry depends on the registration status of the vehicle and where it’s located. If you’re winterizing your summer car or tuning it up to prepare it for the warm weather, here’s an insurance guide:

Do you need insurance on a car in storage?

Winter isn’t kind to vehicles, especially when you live in an area that gets a lot of rain and snow. Sports car and luxury car owners who live in these regions will winterize their cars and put them away in a garage until the snow melts and the rain stops.

They may not drive their cars for half of the year but their cars will also retain value.

You obviously need to insure your winter cars and trucks, but do you need to insure your summer car when you’re not operating it? The answer isn’t as straightforward as you’d think it would be.

The answer depends on two things:

Here’s how insurance requirements work in both scenarios:

If You Keep Your License Plates Active

You have to register any personal or business car that you own in order to drive it on public roads. It doesn’t matter if it’s a winter car or a summer car, it still needs to be registered and have valid license plates before you can drive it or park it publicly.

Keeping your plates active while your car is parked on private property or stored in a garage is convenient. When you have valid tags on the car you don’t have to visit the DMV once to surrender your plates and again to reactivate the registration right before summer.

While it is the more convenient option, if you hold onto your plates to avoid the hassle, you’ll have to keep mandatory insurance on the car.

If You Turn In Your Plates

It works much differently if you decide to turn in your plates while your car is sitting. When you surrender your plates, you’re essentially telling the DMV that you won’t be using your car on public roads.

In most states, you’ll be asked to fill out an application to change your registration to Planned Non-Operable (PNO) at the time of surrender.

Once you file the car as a PNO through the DMV, the requirement to prove that you’re financially responsible for the vehicle is placed on hold. Since the car can’t be driven, it can’t possibly cause bodily injury or property damage.

This filing eliminates the need to prove that you have mandatory liability insurance until you reactivate your tags.

Should you carry more than liability on a stored summer car?

Liability insurance is required on all registered cars in states with mandatory insurance laws whether they’re in storage or not.

If summer recently ended or you’re revisiting your insurance needs while your car is in storage, you might still need additional coverage.

Here are some options to consider while the car is stored:

  • Comprehensive – to pay for damage if the car catches fire, is stolen, or is vandalized while it’s sitting (required if the car is financed)
  • Collision – to pay if the parking brake fails and the car goes rolling down a hill (required if the car is financed)
  • Medical Payments – to pay for any auto-related injuries you suffer as a passenger in another car or as a pedestrian

Is suspending your insurance a good option?

If you don’t keep your summer car registered and it’s filed as a PNO, you can either cancel your insurance or suspend the policy. Suspending the policy means that you’re putting some or all of the coverage on-hold until you need to reactivate it.

A suspended policy is a good idea because you can keep comprehensive for just parked car coverage.

What to Consider When Updating Insurance on Your Summer Car

You will need substantially more auto insurance coverage when it’s time to take your car for a spin. If you’ve lowered your limits of liability to keep your rates low during the rest of the year, it’s time to bump those limits up for sufficient asset protection.

State minimums will satisfy insurance laws but they aren’t high enough to safeguard you.

Not only should you raise your liability limits for your joyrides and your summer road trips, you should also consider adding optional coverage. Here are other types of coverage that can help you live comfortably after an auto loss:

  • Comprehensive and Collision
  • Uninsured Motorist Protection
  • Medical Payments Coverage
  • Rental Car Reimbursement
  • Towing
  • Custom Vehicle Coverage
  • Roadside Assistance
  • Accidental Death and Dismemberment

You need to build a policy that will really be there for you when you need it. No one wants their summer to be ruined by an auto accident, but if you’re unfortunate enough to have one, be sure that you’re with an insurer who will pick up the pieces.

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