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Car Insurance Coverage for Snowbirds

By Insurance.com Posted : 03/07/2007

When the weather turns cold, many car owners flock to warmer climates, like Florida, to get out of the snow and bask in the sun. In some cases, the cars stay north, while the drivers head south and the question of how to handle an annual car insurance policy arises. Of course, everyone wants to save as much as possible when it comes to car insurance. But it's important to remember that auto insurance is not just coverage for accidents that happen while your car is being driven. Different parts of your auto insurance policy serve different purposes, so the question is really more complicated than it appears.

Important Coverages
Collision coverage, liability coverage, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, and medical payments coverage are what most people think of when they hear the phrase "auto insurance." Each of these coverages protects you against some aspect of a potential automobile accident. But comprehensive coverage is another important part of your auto insurance policy. Comprehensive coverage insures you against damage to your vehicle caused by events other than an accident -- for example, fire, theft, flooding, or vandalism. Any of these things can happen to your car, even when it's not being driven. The risk of certain occurrences, such as theft and vandalism, may be heightened if your vehicle will be parked outside an unoccupied house for any length of time. So, the basic answer to your question is that you might be able to suspend part of your auto insurance if your car won't be driven for an extended period of time, but it would be unwise to cancel your policy entirely.

Can You Suspend Coverage?
Now the question is whether your auto insurance company (and your state) will allow you to temporarily suspend part of your insurance coverage. Most states require that all registered vehicles carry a minimum amount of insurance coverage, so suspending your coverage may also mean dealing with the hassles of suspending or canceling your registration (and reinstating it when you return). And even if the state does have a system that allows this, your auto insurance company may or may not be willing to allow you to suspend part of your coverage temporarily. To find out for sure, you'll need to contact your insurance company and ask. One more important consideration: if you have an outstanding car loan on your vehicle, the terms of the loan probably require that you keep the car fully insured. Check your loan documentation carefully before you take steps to suspend your insurance coverage.

Maybe your insurance company is unwilling to suspend part of your coverage, and you think there's little risk that your car will be damaged or stolen from your garage while you're gone. Whatever you do, don't think that you can simply stop paying your premiums, let the insurer cancel your policy, and then purchase a new policy when you return from your winter in Florida. A canceled insurance policy will show up on your credit report, and can make it extremely difficult (and expensive) for you to get car insurance. coverage in the future.


Please note that this description/explanation is intended only as a guideline.

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