Insuring Your Summer Vehicle During the Winter

A grandfather and grandson washing a classic Ford mustang in the driveway.

Winter weather can wreak havoc on a vehicle. Bitterly cold temperatures, snow, ice, slush, road salt; all of these things can have an impact on any car. But some cars weren’t meant to be driven during the winter months.

Winter makes your vehicle’s fluids less efficient, affects the battery’s performance, and messes with tire pressure. Plus, all that road salt can corrode your vehicle’s undercarriage, wheel wells, and brakes.

For some vehicles, a convertible sportscar for example, it makes sense to drive them during the warmer months and put them in storage for the winter. But that leads one to question: do you need car insurance coverage for your summer wheels throughout the year if it’s in storage for several months?

Keep your stored vehicle insured

Cancelling your car insurance outright on a stored vehicle isn't the best option. There are a couple of reasons why you should refrain from doing so.

Firstly, your car won't be covered if it's stolen or damaged while in storage. Secondly, you could see a premium increase in the spring when you go to get a new policy so you can drive it again.

For example, if you had an at-fault accident while you were driving the previous year, and you had an accident forgiveness clause on your policy, if you cancel that policy, you lose that benefit when you apply for a new policy.

In other words, cancelling a policy completely may put you in the high-risk driver category. You definitely don’t want that. A motorist who is considered high risk is almost certain to pay a higher premium than those who aren’t tagged with that classification.

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Penalties for an uninsured car

Driving without insurance isn't an option either. You can face stiff penalties if you drive without insurance in Canada.

According to the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act, if you drive without insurance in Ontario, you could face a $5,000 fine for the first offence, and a surcharge of approximately 25%. You can be charged additional fines of $10,000 up to $50,000 for a second offence. Your driving licence may also be suspended for up to one year.

Keep comprehensive coverage

The smartest way to save money on insurance for a car you're storing over the winter is to keep the policy active by maintaining its comprehensive coverage and suspending its road coverage. Since you won't be driving, you don't need the portion of your auto policy such as liability or additional coverages like collision. But be advised: without collision coverage, you have no protection if your vehicle is damaged in a hit-and-run. Furthermore, should you need to have a mechanic look at the vehicle after removing road coverage, you will have to have the vehicle towed to and from the repair shop.

Regardless, keep the comprehensive coverage, which is the part of your car insurance that covers you in case of damage due to storms, fire, or theft.

Other options for summer vehicles in winter

You have a few other options for a vehicle you drive in the summer months and store over the winter. If your car is older, you may be eligible for classic car insurance. This type of insurance is designed for vehicles driven a modest amount during warmer months.

The best way to find a company to give you a car insurance policy that will provide the right amount of coverage at a price that suits your budget is to compare policies and premiums from a broad range of insurers.