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Why insure a car I’m storing in my barn?


Question: A few months ago I told my agent that I was storing one of my vehicles in my barn and to take insurance off of it.  My insurer never canceled its coverage, because I didn’t agree to turn in the classic tags.  I want to keep the tags because I may want to put the car back on the road in the next year or two.  Do I have to pay for a car I'm storing in my barn?  What does Pennsylvania law require in this situation?

Answer:  Pennsylvania law requires you to keep at least state-minimum car insurance coverage on any vehicle that you currently have registered.

If you want to take insurance off of an unused, classic car (or any vehicle that is going into storage), then the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s (PennDOT) Driver and Vehicle Services says you must send your registration plate, sticker, and card into them immediately upon canceling your auto insurance coverages.

Your tags and registration documents must be surrendered to PennDOT within 30 days after your insurance is canceled or you will receive a three-month registration suspension for your vehicle. To re-register your vehicle, after serving the registration suspension, you would need to submit proof of car insurance and pay a restoration fee.

So, to keep your classic license plates, you need to keep insurance on your car, even if it's stored in a barn. If you want to cancel your car insurance coverage while the car is stored away, you have to turn in your tags, or you'll be penalized by the state.

You’ll have to seek clarification on why your auto insurer didn’t cancel your coverage; it could have been to save you from this registration suspension or because either you or they failed to follow through on your cancellation request.

Typically, to cancel a policy you not only have to tell your agent but fill out a cancellation-request form that your insurer will send to you after your initial request or send in your own written request for cancellation of coverages.

If you paid the premium for your classic car with your insurer, then it should continue to be covered by your car insurance policy, and thus keeping you from the above penalties.

If you still want to cancel its coverages, then you will need to speak to your insurer to find out their cancellation process and then turn in your classic tags to the state.  You can ask PennDOT if you can get your classic plates re-issued, when you want to drive and re-insure your vehicle in the future.

If instead you decide to keep insurance on the vehicle, then you could see about dropping coverage to just the bare minimum state-required liability coverages, which, if you are carrying higher coverages on it now, would save you some money. However, if you are storing the car in a barn, comprehensive coverage may be wise to carry so that if a storm would hurt your car, it would be covered.

More articles from Penny Gusner

  • State laws
  • liability insurance
  • PA

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