Can You Get Seasonal Car Insurance?

Quick Answer

While insurers don’t sell seasonal car insurance, you may be able to adjust your policy seasonally to save. For example, you could suspend some of your coverage during times of the year when you’re not driving an insured car.

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As the seasons change, so do the auto insurance needs of some motorists. Certain drivers might want to look into adjusting their auto insurance based on the season. Seasonally adjusted auto insurance offers flexible coverage and potential cost savings for drivers by providing protection only when it's needed.

Here's what you need to know about seasonally adjusted auto insurance.

Can You Buy Seasonal Auto Insurance?

Insurers don't actually sell seasonal auto insurance policies, explains Mark Friedlander with the Insurance Information Institute. Instead, standard policies typically come with a six-month or 12-month term.

"However, if you have certain vehicles, such as a motorcycle or classic car that is only driven during summer months, you may qualify for a better rate from your insurer than a vehicle that is driven year-round," says Friedlander.

While you can't buy a seasonal auto insurance policy per se, you can change your coverage during the year to reduce your insurance costs if there are months when you don't use a specific vehicle.

How Does Seasonally Adjusted Auto Insurance Work?

Seasonal auto insurance isn't something you can buy. But if you need your vehicle for only a few months a year, you can adjust your insurance for seasonal needs. This generally involves suspending some of your regular coverage if, for example, you:

  • Won't be using a car that's parked in your garage for a certain period, such as 30 days or more, while you're away from home.
  • Won't be using a car that's parked in the garage of your summertime home.
  • Won't be driving a vehicle, such as a motorcycle or RV, during certain seasons.

Example of Seasonal Auto Insurance

Here's an example of how seasonal insurance might work: A "snowbird" flocking from a colder climate to a warmer climate during winter months leaves their vehicle at their permanent home. In this situation, a motorist might reduce their policy's liability limits or put a hold on optional coverage while they're staying in the warmer climate.

The goal for a snowbird or anyone else obtaining seasonal auto insurance is to lower the cost of coverage compared with a year-round policy while enabling basic protections to stay in place.

How to Save Money With Seasonally Adjusted Insurance

The best way to save money when making a seasonal adjustment to your auto insurance is by dropping comprehensive and collision coverage, according to Friedlander. However, you normally must maintain comprehensive and collision coverage if you have an auto loan or lease, he says. Plus, you typically must maintain the minimum amount of liability coverage that's mandated by your state.

If you own your car outright, you could reduce your liability coverage to the minimum amount required by your state and remove or reduce other coverage.

Can You Suspend Your Auto Insurance?

Depending on your insurance company and the state where you live, you may or may not be able to suspend, or pause, your auto insurance. But you should be able to decrease your coverage whenever you want.

Friedlander says most auto insurers don't allow policyholders to suspend coverage entirely. But if you are able to do it, you might also need to drop your vehicle registration, he warns. Doing so could cost you more in the future, however.

"Suspending or dropping coverage will create a gap in your insurance record, which is seen as a negative factor by most auto insurers and will result in higher rates in the future," Friedlander says.

Before you attempt to temporarily suspend or interrupt your insurance coverage, ask your insurer about their policy. An insurer may allow you to temporarily suspend coverage as long as your premium is paid in full and you notify them ahead of time. In this case, the insurer may reduce your coverage to the bare minimum required liability insurance and keep comprehensive coverage in case of theft or a natural disaster. Doing so could save you a significant amount of money.

Just remember not to cancel your coverage altogether if you won't be driving a vehicle for a while. Doing so would leave your car unprotected, likely break state insurance laws, perhaps cause trouble with your auto lender and potentially result in a cancellation fee and high costs to reinstate auto coverage.

Can You Get Car Storage Insurance?

There's no such thing as a car storage insurance policy, according to Friedlander.

But from a legal perspective, you don't need car insurance for a vehicle that's not being driven and is in storage, he says. However, if the vehicle is stolen, vandalized or damaged due to an accident or weather-related event, you'll be responsible for any expenses that arise if you don't carry insurance.

Benefits of Adjusting Your Car Insurance Seasonally

Adjusting your auto insurance seasonally provides several benefits. They include:

  • Reduced premiums: By limiting coverage to the bare minimum when you're not using your car, you can decrease your insurance premiums.
  • Flexibility: If you don't need year-round coverage, seasonally adjusted auto insurance might fill the void. For example, let's say you own a second home at the beach where you stay only during the summer. If you own a car that you keep there and drive just during that time, seasonally adjusted auto insurance gives you the flexibility to adjust your coverage depending on when you're staying at the vacation home.
  • Protection: If you keep comprehensive insurance while you're not using your car, your car will be covered in a number of non-collision scenarios, such as theft or weather damage.

How to Save on Auto Insurance Premiums

Here are six tips for saving money on auto insurance premiums:

  1. Adjust your coverage. You may be able to save money on your auto insurance by adjusting your coverage. For instance, you might drop your liability coverage to the state-required minimum or get rid of comprehensive and collision coverage if you drive an older car.
  2. Raise your deductible. Raising the deductible for comprehensive and collision coverage, for instance, could result in lower premiums.
  3. Explore discounts. Auto insurers provide a variety of discounts for policyholders, such as those for being a safe driver, insuring more than one vehicle with the same company, bundling auto and homeowners coverage with one insurer and paying your entire premium at one time.
  4. Look into pay-per-mile insurance. If you don't drive all that much, you might benefit from pay-per-mile insurance. The cost of this coverage goes up or down each month depending on how many miles you've logged. If you don't rack up that much mileage, you might save money compared with traditional insurance.
  5. Let your insurer monitor your driving. Some insurers will cut your auto insurance premiums simply by signing up for a telematics program, which tracks your mileage and driving habits. If the data shows you're a good driver, you might pocket even more money.
  6. Compare quotes. Before buying or renewing an auto insurance policy, it's wise to compare quotes from several insurers to see which company offers coverage that is reasonably priced and meets your needs. You can compare quotes by using Experian's free auto insurance comparison tool.

The Bottom Line

Although you can't buy seasonal auto insurance, you may be able to reduce your coverage during certain seasons, such as when you take off to your beach house during the summer months and leave your car at home. Trimming your coverage might save money while still protecting your car in case it's damaged, stolen or vandalized.