You cannot be without car insurance for any period of time if you have a car that is parked or driven on public property. Car insurance is mandatory in every state except New Hampshire and Virginia, and even driving off a dealership’s lot without insurance is illegal.
If you have an existing insurance policy, your car insurance company may have a grace period of 0 to 30 days after the payment due date, giving you a chance to pay your premium and avoid a lapse in coverage. Exhausting this grace period and allowing your insurance coverage to lapse will lead to higher premiums in the future. During the grace period, however, your car is still covered.
On the other hand, if you won’t be driving your car for a while, it doesn’t need insurance if it’s parked on private property. But most states require you to turn in or destroy your license plates before dropping your insurance coverage in order to avoid penalties for driving without insurance. Furthermore, comprehensive coverage or a storage insurance policy is still recommended for a car in a private garage. Otherwise, the owner is financially responsible for anything that happens to the car, like fire or flood damage.
In addition, most leased or financed cars need to be insured even if they’re not being used. Lenders often require full coverage so that the car doesn’t lose its value as collateral if it is damaged. And if the car leaves the garage to drive even a quarter of a mile, it needs to be insured.
It’s also important to note that regardless of the reason, being uninsured means your insurance premiums will be more expensive the next time you need to buy an insurance policy.
Although cars are never allowed on the road without insurance, there are a few situations in which you can be without car insurance. For example, young drivers with a learner’s permit usually do not need their own insurance policies. Most companies will cover teens with learner’s permits if they drive under the supervision of an insured adult. Similarly, if you are driving a borrowed car that is insured by someone else, their policy will usually cover you, but it’s best to make sure before taking the risk.
Some insurers also allow armed forces members to suspend car insurance while deployed. For deployed soldiers, and any other individual whose car is sitting idle, it’s best to fill out a form with the DMV to avoid possible sanctions for a lapse in coverage. Being clear with your state’s DMV will keep you from unpleasant surprises in the future, since the DMV might otherwise assume you were uninsured and penalize you accordingly.
How to Make Sure You Have Enough Insurance
If you are buying a car and have an existing policy, check your insurer’s specific terms to ensure that you will be covered from the moment you turn on the engine. Pay attention to the details, though: Your new car will only be covered up to the limits of your current insurance policy. This means that if the new car needs full coverage and you only have liability insurance, you’ll need to change your policy or get a new one.
If you plan on buying a new car and don’t already have insurance, purchase a policy before you drive the car for the first time. Finally, if you own an uninsured car, compare insurance quotes and buy a policy immediately to help protect your wallet from the dangers of driving without insurance.
WalletHub Answers is a free service that helps consumers access financial information. Information on WalletHub Answers is provided “as is” and should not be considered financial, legal or investment advice. WalletHub is not a financial advisor, law firm, “lawyer referral service,” or a substitute for a financial advisor, attorney, or law firm. You may want to hire a professional before making any decision. WalletHub does not endorse any particular contributors and cannot guarantee the quality or reliability of any information posted. The helpfulness of a financial advisor's answer is not indicative of future advisor performance.