Do I need car insurance for occasional driving?
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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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For people who do not drive their cars regularly, paying for car insurance can seem like a waste of money. After all, if a person only drives a few miles a year, how likely is it that the vehicle would be involved in an accident? Is all of that insurance really necessary?
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The fact is that all vehicles need to be insured, regardless of how often they are driven. The type of insurance can be changed to suit the needs of that vehicle’s owner, however, and certain discounts may apply that can reduce the cost of coverage to something more manageable.
Why so I need car insurance?
Basic liability insurance is required by the state. You cannot register a car without having proof of insurance, and if you drive a vehicle without proper registration you are breaking state law. If you were to be pulled over for your missing registration, the police officer would also cite you for lacking insurance, making it doubly important to maintain both.
Additionally, if your vehicle causes damage to another person’s property, you are personally liable to pay for that damage whether or not you have insurance. It’s important to note that your vehicle can cause damage without being driven. For example, if your vehicle is parked and slips out of gear, rolling backwards into someone’s mailbox, you will be held responsible for that damage.
Sometimes vehicles have electrical problems; shorts in the wiring can lead to sparks and fires, even in parked vehicles. If your car catches fire and that fire spreads to your neighbor’s property, you are responsible for that damage.
Car insurance also pays for injuries caused by your vehicle, whether or not anyone is driving in it. If you and a friend are working on your vehicle in the garage and the car falls, injuries that you and your friend sustain can be covered under your auto insurance. The same goes for damage caused by slamming a car door or even falling when exiting your vehicle.
Any damage you are found liable for will be charged against you through a collections agency, and you could be taken to court for damage you cause as well. Insurance acts to protect you from being sued. While it may seem easy to pay for minor damage out of pocket, expenses add up quickly and other parties may not be cooperative.
Bear in mind also that even parked vehicles can sustain damage. Items can fall on it, vandals can scratch the paint and the vehicle could be stolen. If you don’t keep at least some first-party coverage on your vehicle, you cannot receive any reimbursement for this type of damage. While paying for car insurance can be an inconvenience, paying for expensive repairs out of pocket can be a much more damaging unexpected expense.
How do I save money on the cost of car insurance for a vehicle I do not drive often?
If you put very few miles on your vehicle each year, you should be sure to contact your insurance company and let them know. Car insurance companies typically assume you will be putting at least 10,000 miles on your vehicle each year and determine your rates accordingly. Some insurance companies have a pay-as-you go play that allows you to pay a variable rate depending on your driving habits; you can ask your insurance company if they offer such a plan and volunteer for it.
You can also lower the coverage on your policy, within reason. If you are unlikely to get into an accident, you might feel comfortable raising your deductible or lowering the limits of your liability coverage. If your vehicle is in storage, you may choose to keep comprehensive coverage on the vehicle but drop collision coverage.
You can lower the cost of your insurance premium in other ways as well. Having good credit and carrying multiple policy lines with one company can lead to discount. You can also save money on your car insurance by choosing a vehicle that’s cheap to insure; vehicles that have high safety ratings and are inexpensive to repair will have much lower premiums than luxury or sports cars.
Regardless of what choice you make, you should always maintain basic liability coverage on your vehicle at all times in order to stay in line with the law.