Don't drive your car? Here's how to insure it

By Barbara Marquand on October 7th, 2012

You know you need to insure a car you drive. But what about a car you don't plan to drive?

It may not be a question insurance agents field every day, but it does come up from time to time. Here are three scenarios and how car insurance could come into play:

1. You can't drive because of a disability or old age, but keep a car for someone else to drive.

Some car insurance companies will let you buy a car insurance policy that excludes yourself as the driver. Typically in that case, the company will ask you to list a licensed driver on the policy, usually a member of your household who operates the car. The premium would be based on the listed driver's age, driving record and other information.

An insurance company is most likely to accommodate someone in this situation who's done business with the company before and has a good track record. Call your insurance agent and ask for help.

2. You have a convertible that sits in the garage half the year.

Ask the insurance company about discounts for seasonal vehicles. During the part of the year when the car is not operated, you might also consider dropping optional types of coverage, such as collision insurance. Collision coverage pays to repair your car if it's damaged in a traffic accident. However, it's a good idea to maintain comprehensive insurance, another optional form of coverage. Comprehensive covers losses from causes other than traffic accidents, such as vandalism, theft and natural disasters. Those risks are there, even if the car is never driven.

Keep in mind you might not be able to drop liability insurance temporarily, depending on where you live. In some states, such as California, your car's registration is invalid if you let liability coverage lapse.

3. You go overseas for several months and let your sister drive the car.

Tell your car insurance company about your absence. If your sister will have regular access to the vehicle, then ask about listing her on the policy. The premium will be adjusted to reflect her risk as a driver.

If relatives and friends will have only infrequent access to the car, then you might not have to list other drivers on the policy while you're gone. But ask your car insurance agent and company about how to handle this. Be open about your plans, including where the car will be garaged.

Don't risk coverage by keeping secrets. It's better to be open with your insurer to make sure the policy reflects your circumstances. Then if something goes wrong, you've got the financial protection you need.

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