I'm going without a car for half a year or so, what are my auto insurance options?
March 26, 2008 8:49 PM   Subscribe

I junked my old car and am going without a car for half a year or so, what are my auto insurance options?

My beloved car was recently totaled, and now I am going without a car for the time being (girlfriend and buses can suffice for a while). I figure that I can save on my expensive New York insurance and put that money towards a replacement car in the fall.

In light of this, it doesn't seem to make sense to have auto insurance for essentially nothing; what I'm unsure about is if it is a good idea to simply cancel my auto insurance. Will my rates be higher if I reapply to the same company (particularly in light of the totaled car)? Is there any way to suspend my auto insurance completely (but still sort of maintain ties to the insurance company)? If it is better to keep my insurance going, is there some sort of special insurance for people without an actual car?

(Side question: if I give up insurance but sometimes drive my girlfriend's insured car, is that a good idea/legal?)
posted by kosmonaut to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
A lapse in insurance could be counted against you if you tried to get it again later, even with the same company. My husband (a long time ago) cancelled his without thinking and his old company wouldn't pick him back up (this is in NY). And if you were in an accident if your girlfriend's car, you would be an uninsured driver and that's never a good thing...

This is just a guess, but I would think that your rates would go way down on your policy once you removed your car from it? Some quick Googling indicates that there are such things as "non-owner" policies. I would call your insurance company and see what they suggest, but canceling is probably a poor idea, especially if you plan on driving at all.
posted by stefnet at 9:27 PM on March 26, 2008

stefnet is quite right. Ask your company how long you can go without being insured without your customer status "resetting"... I did something similar, and by sheer luck managed to buy a new policy within days of the cutoff, saving a lot of money. (I think it was 6 months for Geico, but don't take my word for it)
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 9:43 PM on March 26, 2008

Best answer: I had to do this once, and my insurance agent offered to put the policy on hold (there was a word for the status, maybe 'suspended' or 'inactive' or something, I forget) rather than cancel it. It meant that they didn't refund my money (which if you pay every six months can be a fair chunk of change) but at the same time the policy remained on the books, so it could be restarted instantly with no gap in coverage (and at that time the already-paid money could be credited to the new policy). I don't know if all insurance companies do this or only some, but it worked out really well for me at that time.

So my suggestion is to go in person and talk to the agent -- I went in to cancel the policy and they suggested the other option instead. If they are helpful, they will know lots of options that you may not.
posted by Forktine at 10:00 PM on March 26, 2008

My car was totalled in January and I have no plans to get a new car. My insurance company offered me a very inexpensive non-owner policy that covers the occasional rental/borrowing scenario and keeps my policy active at a level that will give me better rates if/when I choose to own a car again.
posted by judith at 10:25 PM on March 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

According to this you can get a non-owner car insurance policy that would cover you when driving a borrowed or rented car. Don't know what the rates are like; you should consult with your insurance agent to figure that out.
posted by Jemstar at 7:07 AM on March 27, 2008

I don't know what other people could possibly be answering, but this is a question you should ask your insurance company.
posted by thomas144 at 7:43 AM on March 27, 2008

Best answer: From Ms. Vegetable:

Could you be a named driver on your girlfriend's policy? I'd assume that's the car you'd be driving most often, and then if/when you apply for your own insurance, you'd have previous insurance without a lapse to use.

You do NOT want a lapse in coverage in most states. One exception is New Hampshire, where insurers have very narrow restrictions on using prior insurance when rating for new policies. I don't know if that applies to NY or not.

If an insurance agent is not helpful, try the Department of Insurance.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 8:58 AM on March 27, 2008

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