Question: I have only liability insurance on an older car, and I’m going on vacation with it soon. Can I change to full coverage for the length of my vacation and then change back to only liability? 

Answer: Yes, most auto insurance companies will allow you to add comprehensive and collision coverage, what people refer to as “full coverage,” to your policy mid-term and then take them off later if you no longer find a need.

You, however, won’t be able to add comprehensive and collision for whatever the length of your vacation may be. Instead, you’ll have to purchase these coverages for the remainder of your auto policy’s term and then cancel them when you’re done with your vacation.

When adding these physical damages coverages to your policy, your car insurance company should pro-rate the cost from the date you add them through the end of your policy period. When you return, you would again contact your car insurance company to remove comprehensive and collision from your policy; the difference in premium from the day you canceled through the end of the policy should be refunded. 

To add physical damage coverages to your vehicle, you may be required by your state and/or insurance company to have an inspection of your vehicle. The inspection is done to document the car’s physical condition, its options and accessories and any pre-existing damages. Give yourself enough time before vacation to get the inspection done if it’s needed.

You might also want to think about raising your bodily injury liability and property damage liability limits. If you are worried about being in a crash while on vacation, then you’ll not only want your car protected, but enough auto insurance to cover others that you may harm and protect you from lawsuits.

If you have low liability limits, then it’s easy for them to be exceeded in even a minor auto accident. Higher liability limits will better protect your assets by there being less of a chance of you personally being sought after for damages to others that exceeded your auto insurance limits.

The insurance industry recommends liability limits of at least 100/300/50, which translates to $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident for bodily injury liability coverage and $50,000 for property damage liability coverage.

When reviewing your policy before your vacation road trip, also make certain that your coverages will follow you if you are traveling out-of-state. Normally, most will, but with some auto insurance coverages, such as personal injury protection (PIP), the rules for making claims for an out-of-state accident can vary from an in-state accident.

And, when you get back, if you decide to keep your physical damage coverages, make sure you are getting the best rates possible. It may be that your current insurer gives you the cheapest rates for a liability-only policy, but you could save hundreds of dollars by comparison shopping with other car insurance companies that offer cheaper rates on policies that include full coverage.

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Penny Gusner
Consumer Analyst/Insurance Expert

Penny has been working in the car insurance business for more than 10 years and has become an expert on procedures, rates, policies and claims. She has seen it all, and working with from its inception, she researches the routine and the bizarre with equal enthusiasm. She has three very active children and a husband with a zeal for quirky cars.