Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insuran...

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Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager

UPDATED: Aug 11, 2021

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Key takeaways...

  • If you don’t need to operate your vehicle for a period of time, you may be able to put your car insurance on hold
  • Many companies will require you to present proof that you’ve surrendered your plates before insurance is suspended
  • If a surrender isn’t required, be sure to verify that you won’t be fined by the DMV for putting your insurance on hold
  • Drivers with a valid registration and a suspended auto insurance policy could be fined as if they were uninsured
  • Some carriers will suspend all coverage and others will allow you to keep comprehensive for damage protection

There’s no point in paying for car insurance when you’re not using your car. Unfortunately, you can’t just automatically cancel your policy and do away with the bill because you don’t plan on driving for the next few weeks or the next few months.

Doing this could land you in trouble with law enforcement officers and the courts.

Instead of terminating your contract, you need to take the appropriate steps so that you can avoid getting into legal trouble.

Compare car insurance companies and see which offers the right coverage for the right price for your situation.

There is a way to put your insurance on hold as long as you’re following the laws of the state. If you won’t have access to your vehicle for weeks or months, here’s a guide to help.

What Are Your State’s Insurance Requirements?

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Auto insurance is mandatory in most states for licensed drivers. You either have to have a minimum amount of liability coverage or you have to file an acceptable alternative form of financial responsibility. This is meant to cover the other party’s injuries and property damage if you’re at fault in an accident.

You must keep either your insurance or your evidence of financial responsibility on file without any lapses for as long as the vehicle is registered. Some states will suspend your license if they have reason to think you’re driving around uninsured.

If you do let your policy lapse, you could face some serious consequences. The consequences aren’t as serious when you’re not caught driving your car but there are still some hefty penalties. All of the penalties that are assessed for owning an uninsured car vary by state.

If the DMV discovers that your car isn’t coverage, some of the potential penalties include:

  • Suspended your registration
  • Suspended your driver’s license
  • Required SR-22 forms that will lead to increased insurance rates for even basic liability insurance for an extended period

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What Are The Reasons to Put Your Insurance on Hold?

You shouldn’t put your insurance on hold or suspend your insurance just so that you can avoid making payments. If you have any intentions of driving the vehicle while the insurance is on hold, you need to maintain coverage by paying your premiums. This could get you in a lot of trouble and end up costing you more in the long run. Even if you don’t plan on driving for awhile, you should consider the total long-term costs.

Here are a few of the acceptable reasons that you can suspend your insurance:

  • If you’re taking a long trip out of the country or out of the state
  • If you’re in the military and you’re being deployed
  • If you’re surrendering your license after a disability and you’re planning to get it back in the future
  • If your car will be parked in storage during the winter months
  • If your car is inoperable and you won’t be getting it repaired right away

What Do Insurers Require to Put Your Insurance on Hold?

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Every insurance company has its own requirements when a client wants to place their insurance on hold. Some companies will honor the client’s request as long as the suspension is being requested on a future date.

Other companies are more strict and they require some sort of proof. Some of the types of proof that can be requested include:

  • Proof that your license plates have been surrendered
  • Proof that you’re traveling out of state
  • Proof that your vehicle is going to be disabled for repairs
  • Proof that you’re being deployed and the vehicle will be in storage
  • Other proof to confirm that your vehicle will be parked for a long period of time

You might think that you can just lie and say that you’ve surrendered your plates, but that’s not a good idea. The DMV can now verify that you have coverage real-time in most states.

Since the state has developed a database where insurance is reported every day, the DMV can easily find out that you are violating the law on a vehicle that has a registration.

You can cancel your car insurance. But any period without insurance coverage will create a gap in your history much like a gap in your work history. Just like it’s harder to find a job when you have a gap on your resume, insurance companies will charge more if you have a gap in your insurance coverage. This is true even if you have a good reason for doing it. Even if there’s no way you’ll be driving, you may want to consider keeping your comprehensive insurance active to protect your car from bad weather, falling tree branches, etc. while it’s in storage.

What Types of Coverage Can Be Suspended?

If you have an older car that doesn’t need any type of physical damage coverage, you can suspend all of your comprehensive, collision, and first-party coverage options. Generally, experts recommend you keep your PIP (personal injury protection) and of course the state required liability coverage. This generally comes with low insurance premiums and no interruptions in your insurance history. So if you get a newer car later on and want comprehensive coverage, you won’t have to worry about any penalties.

For those who need damage protection while the vehicle is parked, there is an option to get parked car insurance where you just keep your comprehensive coverage and nothing else. Again, you would still have an ongoing record of some kind of insurance. So you wouldn’t have to worry about being penalized later on for a lapse in coverage.

It’s best to suspend your coverage when you don’t need it. This makes it easier to secure coverage and keep loyalty discounts when you need to buy insurance again.

If you aren’t confident that you’re getting the best rates when you reactive your coverage, you can get auto insurance quotes quickly by going online.

Use our online quote tool, compare different quotes, and then decide which policy is best for you.