When and How to Pause Your Car Insurance

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Person sitting in car trunk

If you find yourself in a situation in which you don’t need to drive for a period of time and won’t need as much auto coverage, you might be able to pause your car insurance temporarily. Ultimately, it’ll depend on your state’s laws and if your car insurance company allows it.

While you may think you have a valid reason to suspend your coverage, it’s not a widely available option. If you’re having trouble maintaining your insurance, you can discuss money-saving options with your insurer, such as dropping or reducing certain coverages. But canceling your coverage altogether can lead to higher insurance rates later.

In the article below, we explain when and how to pause auto insurance and the pros and cons, plus alternatives to consider.

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Can You Temporarily Pause Your Auto Insurance?

It’s possible to pause your auto insurance coverage if you’re not planning to use your vehicle for an extended period of time, but it depends on your insurer and local laws. For instance, if you need to travel for several months or are leaving on military deployment, you may be able to suspend or reduce your coverage.

But you’ll need to contact your car insurance company first to see if it’s even an option. Though many insurers don’t allow it, some might be willing to do so only in certain situations. Insurers such as The Hartford, State Farm, and Allstate allow you to suspend coverage, but rules vary.

Since most companies won’t pause coverage, your insurer may allow you to drop liability and collision coverage if you’re not driving the car. But you’ll still have to keep the comprehensive coverage to protect your vehicle against damage — such as theft, falling objects, and weather events like flooding or fire — that can happen while it’s in storage.

Your state may still require you to have liability coverage even if you’re not driving your car. It’s important to verify this with your insurance company because not maintaining your state’s minimum insurance requirements can lead to a lapse in coverage and penalties.

Reasons to pause coverage

Pausing your coverage may save you money in the short term, but you shouldn’t pause it if your state requires you to meet certain insurance requirements or if your lender requires you to have comprehensive and collision coverage.

With that said, some instances when you may need to pause coverage if you won’t drive your car for a while include:

  • You’re traveling abroad. If you’ll be out of the country for several months or more, you can look into “vehicle storage insurance,” which is essentially comprehensive-only coverage that protects your stored vehicle.
  • You’re getting deployed. If you’re in the military and are leaving on a deployment, it’s a good time to ask if you can put your auto insurance on hold. You may qualify for savings when you reduce your coverage. For example, USAA offers military members and veterans a discount for long-term vehicle storage.
  • You have a suspended license. If your state has suspended your license, you may want to pause your coverage until your state’s department of motor vehicles (DMV) reinstates it.
  • You’re away at college. You may want to pause car insurance if you live on your college campus and leave your car with your parents. Many insurers, like State Farm, offer a student away at school discount.
  • You can’t drive because of health issues. If you have an injury or mobility issues that prevent you from driving, pausing coverage could be an option.

No matter your reason for pausing, you can’t pause your coverage for fewer than 30 days. It’s also not a good idea to pause your car insurance coverage if you’re unemployed or facing financial difficulty. In that case, you can talk to your insurer to discuss ways to reduce costs and still keep your required coverage.

How to Pause Your Car Insurance

man on a laptop pausing auto coverage

The process of suspending your car insurance coverage depends on your insurance company and your state’s laws. If you lease your vehicle or have a car loan, it’s also a good idea to check with your lender or leasing company since you may have to maintain certain coverages.

Below are general steps you can take to pause your auto coverage.

1. Call your insurance company

You’ll first need to see if your insurance company will allow you to pause your coverage. Contact an insurance agent with the company or a customer service representative to see what options are available, how to submit the request, and other requirements. For instance, some insurers may require a written request.

2. Review state laws

Review state laws about insurance coverage with your local DMV or the equivalent agency in your state. Some states require insurance at all times. For example, if you’ve registered your car in New York, it must be insured at all times, even if you’re not driving it or you put it in storage, according to the New York State DMV.

3. Complete relevant paperwork

Get everything in writing with your insurance company and fill out any necessary paperwork. Some states may require you to fill out something called an “affidavit of non-use” with your local DMV.

The affidavit lets the state know that you’re not using your vehicle for a specific period of time, and you no longer have the minimum liability insurance required by the state. For example, the California DMV requires an affidavit of non-use.

How to reactivate your coverage

Since a pause in car insurance is temporary, you’ll need to reactivate your coverage when you’re ready to start driving your car again. You must have an active liability insurance policy to resume driving your vehicle.

Reactivate your car insurance by contacting your insurance company and letting them know you’d like to reinstate your policy. You can review the policy limits and deductibles and add different coverages based on your situation to make sure you have all the protection you need before getting back on the road. Lastly, make sure your car registration is current with the DMV.

Pros and Cons of Suspending Your Car Insurance

man leaning against his car

If your insurance company allows you to suspend your car insurance, it can lead to several benefits like lower insurance costs. But pausing auto insurance isn’t always a good idea. Here are some pros and cons to consider.

Pros Cons
Save on car insurance premiums Leasing companies or lenders may not allow it
Suspend coverage for long periods Limited protections when driving without insurance
Protection against damage unrelated to car accidents Many insurers don’t allow car insurance pauses
Avoid a lapse in coverage State law may not allow it

Alternatives to Suspending Your Policy

woman smiling at cell phone

Suspending an auto insurance policy isn’t for everyone or every situation. Here are some alternatives to consider to help lower your car insurance costs.

Reduce your coverage

If you plan on storing your vehicle for more than 30 days, you may be able to reduce certain coverages. Typically, this means dropping liability and collision coverage but keeping comprehensive insurance. That means comprehensive coverage will pay for any damages to your vehicle caused by floods, fires, falling trees or objects, and theft.

Reducing your coverage can lower your premium costs, but you’ll have to keep liability insurance if your state requires it.

If you’re financing your vehicle and have a car loan, this probably won’t be an option. Even if you store your car in a safe place, lenders typically require you to maintain collision and comprehensive coverage.

Remove yourself from the policy

If you have a car insurance policy with other family members, you can remove yourself from the policy. That may help you get a lower rate without suspending or canceling your policy.

But if you decide to take a quick drive and get into an incident, your insurer won’t pay for the damage since you’re no longer on the policy. Not being on the policy makes you ineligible for the benefits.

Cancel your policy

Canceling your entire policy is one option, but it’s not advisable if you plan on driving later on. When you cancel insurance and have a registered vehicle, insurers consider it a lapse in coverage. A coverage lapse increases your risk for insurers and can lead to higher premiums when you get a new policy.

Increase your deductible

You might consider increasing your deductible on your auto policy to help reduce your insurance premiums. If you’re not driving the vehicle, there’s a lower chance of filing an insurance claim. But if you need to file a claim, just know you’ll pay more out of pocket, so be sure you can afford the expense.

Switch to usage-based insurance

Another option is to look into usage-based insurance. This type of insurance uses telematics to set your rate based on your driving and how much you drive. You can also look into pay-per-mile insurance — which reduces costs significantly for low-mileage drivers.

While you’d be responsible for the base rate each month, the company wouldn’t charge you for miles since you wouldn’t drive anyway. Before making the switch, consider some disadvantages of switching to usage-based car insurance.

Typically, you’ll need to share your data, download an app, and have a device track your driving behavior. Depending on how the insurer uses your data, you may not be eligible for significant savings.

Shop for a new car insurance company

If you’re concerned about your car insurance premiums while you’re not driving, you can shop for new coverage instead of suspending your policy. You may be eligible for discounts that can reduce your costs.

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FAQs About Pausing Car Insurance

If you have questions about pausing your car insurance because you won’t be driving, check out answers to common questions.

How long can you freeze car insurance?

It depends — you may not be able to at all. Many insurance companies don’t allow you to freeze your car insurance. Contact your insurance company to see if freezing or pausing your car insurance policy for a period of time is possible. Typically, your options are to cancel the policy or reduce your coverage.

Can you pause insurance while traveling?

It depends. You may be able to pause your car insurance if you’re traveling and plan to be away for several months. Discuss options with your car insurance company and review state laws. Some insurance companies only allow you to reduce coverage to comprehensive-only insurance.

Is it better to cancel or suspend car insurance?

It depends on your situation. Suspending your car insurance coverage and maintaining comprehensive coverage is typically a better idea than canceling your auto insurance policy. You may need to keep liability insurance per state laws as well.

Canceling is only a good idea if you’re getting rid of your vehicle and plan to go carless. If you sign up for car insurance coverage later, rates will likely be higher because of the lapse in coverage.

Do you need to insure a car you don’t drive?

It depends. You may not have to insure a car you don’t drive, but some states require liability insurance even if you’re not driving the vehicle.

Research the rules set by your state’s DMV and talk to your insurance company about pausing certain coverage types like liability and collision coverage and having comprehensive only.

Can you suspend insurance on a financed car?

Not usually. If you’re financing a vehicle you’re not planning to drive, you typically can’t suspend or pause your car insurance policy. Most insurers have minimum-coverage requirements for drivers with financed vehicles. You likely need liability, collision, and comprehensive coverages even if you’re not driving your car.


  1. New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, “Insurance lapses,” Accessed March 22, 2024.
  2. National Association of Insurance Commissioners, “Understanding Usage-Based Insurance,” Accessed March 22, 2024.
  3. Insurance Information Institute, “Understanding your insurance deductibles,” Accessed March 22, 2024.
  4. Insurance Information Institute, “Auto insurance basics—understanding your coverage,” Accessed March 22, 2024.
  5. State of California DMV, “Affidavit of Non-Use,” Accessed March 22, 2024.
  6. Office of the Insurance Commissioner Washington State, “Usage-based insurance,” Accessed March 27, 2024.

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