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 in...

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer

UPDATED: Jul 14, 2021

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Here's what you need to know...

  • The law sees parking and driving on the roads as the same thing
  • If you are not driving your car, you will want to avoid parking on the road
  • Any car on public roadways should be registered, and 49 states require insurance on the vehicle
  • Steep penalties can be levied if you break the law

Insurance can be expensive, and you may want to save a little money every month on your policy if you don’t drive your car.

There may be times also where you may not be driving a vehicle because you are traveling long term or have a child away at college, or another reason.

However, you cannot legally cancel the coverage on your car unless you take additional steps to alert the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Before you decide to drop the plan on the car you are not driving, here’s what you need to know. Start comparison shopping by entering your zip code into our FREE tool above!

Mandatory Insurance Laws

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Most states require drivers to have insurance on a car before they get behind the wheel. The minimum levels will vary from one state to the next, but liability insurance is required in almost every state.

New Hampshire is the only state that does not have any such requirement.

In Arizona, insurance is necessary for a car to be operated on all public roadways. This law also extends to motorcycles, golf carts, and mopeds. Insurance must be obtained immediately before the car can be driven or parked in public areas.

Most state laws require all vehicles must be fully registered before being driven, parked, or even towed on public roads and must also have the proper minimum insurance levels.

For instance, California has very clear expectations regarding vehicle registrations.

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Non-Operational Cars

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There are times when drivers own cars but are not driving it, and you may choose to park it for an extended period of time.. These vehicles may qualify for non-operational status in states like California.

It only costs a few dollars to keep the car registered, but it cannot be driven or parked on the public roads.

Once the proper insurance is obtained, and the car is safely parked on private property or in a garage, then it may be possible to drop the insurance on the vehicle.

The Role Proof of Insurance Plays

While states focus their legal language on a car’s registration, it’s important to remember that you cannot register a car without showing that you have adequate insurance on the vehicle.

In Minnesota and other states, you will not be able to obtain or renew a registration without showing the proof of insurance.

A non-insured car won’t be registered and will not qualify for parking on any public thoroughfares.

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Choosing Garage Insurance

Some companies offer coverage called garage insurance. This coverage is designed for vehicles that are rarely driven and covers them in the event of an accident in the garage.

However, this is not liability insurance, and states like Nevada will not accept it. If you decide to drop the proper liability on a car in this state, then you will have to:

  • Cancel the registration
  • Surrender the license plates
  • Refrain from driving or parking the car on public roads

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Policy Freezing

If you have a car that won’t be driven for months at a time, and you want to save money on the insurance, then you can ask about temporary freezing options. With this alternative, the policy will remain in effect with minimal coverage on it.

You’ll have the state-mandated liability requirements, but there won’t be any comprehensive or collision coverage, which is an ideal solution for classic cars that are garaged in cold weather.

Steep Penalties

The state can check the insurance status of most cars on the street, which includes vehicles parked in alleys and on other public roads. So if you are not driving the car and plan on keeping it on the street be aware and have the right coverage.

For instance, in the State of Virginia, having an uninsured vehicle on the roadway can result in steep penalties. You can expect to:

  • Lose your driving and registration privileges
  • Pay a $500 statutory penalty
  • Be required to provide an SR-22 Certificate to the DMV for three year
  • Pay applicable reinstatement fees

The good news is that there are ways you can save on your insurance plan if you never drive the car. Just dropping your car to minimum state requirements can provide you with substantial savings.

However, if the car will be on a public roadway where someone could hit the vehicle, you will want to keep some level of collision and comprehensive coverage in place.

If you need insurance quickly, don’t hesitate and enter your zip code into our FREE comparison tool below!