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Auto Insurance for Maintenance

Things to remember...

  • If your car is sitting for months at a time, you may want to file it as non-operational through the DMV
  • When your broken down car is filed through the DMV, you can legally take insurance off of the car without being fined
  • You must maintain a car insurance policy regardless of its condition if it has an active registration in any state
  • If you’re going to tow your car or operate it on public roads, you need to activate insurance on the car first
  • In most states, you’re required by law to have at least third-party coverage that pays for damages you’re liable for

If you don’t maintain your vehicle properly, it will run inefficiently and then eventually vital components will fail.

Vehicle owners are going to pay more in the long run when they don’t invest the money that’s needed to maintain their vehicle, including:

  • change their oil
  • top off their fluids
  • rotate their tires
  • service their transmission

Depending on the source of a problem, a major vehicle breakdown can cost a small fortune to fix. In fact, some people have to let their cars sit for weeks or months at a time before they can afford to get them up and running again.

Compare car insurance quotes and options today by entering your zip code above.

If you bought a fixer-upper or you have a broken down car in your driveway, here’s a guide to car insurance for maintenance:

Table of Contents

Do you need to carry insurance on a broken-down car?

Car insurance is necessary when you own a car. For people who don’t know the ins and outs of the law, it might seem silly that you have to insure a car that will not and cannot be operated.

Unfortunately, if you’re a little too eager to cancel your insurance on the car, you’ll have to answer to the motor vehicle agency.

By law, you have to satisfy whatever the financial responsibility laws are in your state for as long as you’re the legal owner of the car and it has valid tags.

If you have a valid registration and you don’t have valid auto insurance in place, you’re not complying with the law as a car owner, regardless of the car’s condition.

What type of insurance is required?

You should have learned about car insurance requirements when you were studying your driver’s manual to test for your license.

If you moved to a new state, chances are you had to retest and answer new questions on driving laws and insurance laws. In theory, all licensed drivers should be fluent in the state’s insurance laws.

If you don’t know what type of insurance you must have, you can find out the requirements by visiting the official state DMV website or by getting an updated copy of the driver’s manual.

In most states, where fault is used to determine who pays for damages, you have to carry liability insurance which consists of Bodily Injury and Property Damage.

Does filing your car as non-operational change things?

Who wants to pay for insurance they can’t possibly use when their car is sitting? You can be fined for removing insurance from your car but there is always a solution.

One option for people who aren’t going to take their car in for maintenance immediately is to file the car as planned non-operational.

A Planned Non-Op filing changes your registration status so that the car can legally sit on public property without being towed.

When it is filed as PNO, you don’t have to maintain insurance because you can’t drive or tow the car on public roads until the registration is temporarily or permanently reactivated.

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Keep Parked Car Insurance on Cars That Need Repair

You don’t need the third-party coverage when your car has a PNO filing but that doesn’t mean that deleting your insurance from the car is always the answer.

One of the better options would be to suspend your coverage so that you can still maintain parked car insurance with your comprehensive physical damage coverage. Some reasons that you should keep parked car coverage includes:

  • You will have coverage if your car is vandalized, stolen, flooded, damaged by animals, or damaged by falling objects
  • You can keep continuous coverage on the car to avoid lapses that could land you in a high-risk class when you get insurance in the future
  • Keep your loyalty discounts through your carrier if you keep the policy active
  • Reactivating your liability coverage is much easier when you suspend your policy instead of canceling it

Will your car insurance pay for the maintenance costs?

Maintenance is a cost you can’t avoid if you’re a responsible vehicle owner. Maintenance services and other small repairs are costs that will add up over time.

That’s a huge reason why more and more Millennials are choosing to take ride-sharing services instead of buying a car.

Your insurance will be a lifesaver if you ever have an accident but you can’t assume that your policy will always be there for you when you incur expenses as a car owner.

At first glance, it might seem as if your insurance would pay for the maintenance that you need to have done. Unfortunately, there’s an exclusion that specifically says maintenance is not part of the coverage even with physical damage coverage.

What is the wear and tear exclusion?

Property insurance policies will pay for mechanical repairs if those repairs are needed after you get into a collision or there’s a sudden, unexpected loss to your car while it’s parked.

That’s completely different from the policy covering mechanical failure that’s caused by wear and tear not something unforeseen.

Your car insurance policy has a very straightforward and detailed section written into it that explains what’s not covered.

Under the exclusions section of your plan, one of the primary exclusions on a car insurance policy is the wear and tear exclusion.

It basically says that normal and expected deterioration of the insured property won’t be covered because the policy is meant to cover unforeseen losses.

You need auto insurance to drive your car to the maintenance shop but your policy won’t actually pay for the invoice. Make sure you know what your policy is meant to cover and what it’s not.

Once you know the law and you are familiar with the protection, you can start to shop around online and get instant quotes for a policy on a car that needs maintenance. Enter your zip code below to begin comparison shopping today!


  1. https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/online/vrir/faqpno
  2. https://www.thebalance.com/can-i-cancel-car-insurance-anytime-527400
  3. http://www.iii.org/issue-update/compulsory-auto-uninsured-motorists
  4. https://dmv.ny.gov/insurance/insurance-requirements
  5. https://www.thebalance.com/what-type-of-driver-risk-are-you-527282
  6. https://www.thebalance.com/car-fire-and-insurance-527082
  7. http://www.investopedia.com/terms/w/wear-and-tear-exclusion.asp

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