Slightly OT – insurance (car)

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ejwme
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My insurance is coming up due again in February, and I need to tell them I’m married also. So while I make the phone call, I figure I might as well see what I can do about this transition out of car use.

I want to dump my car insurance for the summer months. I know that people with convertibles will insure them for the summer and then get them a winter hibernation den. I’d like to do the opposite, insure for winter and then leave it for the summer in the back of my driveway (somehow “summerized” to avoid premature death of whatever).

The advice I’m getting from people who now more about cars/driving is all “you can’t do that” or “that’s probably not going to work”. Some of that is “different = BAD”. Some might be accurate. I cant’ dissect the two. I dont’ trust whatever the insurance agent says, because they want to sell me insurance, which I don’t want to buy.

Anybody here know anything that would help me?


robjdlc
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Why wouldn’t it work? You have the option to ensure your car for however long you want to for whatever reason. Just talk to your insurance company about it and you’ll be fine.


ejwme
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there’s no law that if you own a car it has to have insurance on it? I know if you _drive_ a car it has to be insured, but I’m hearing things about ownership requiring insurance. I’m also hearing this from californians who emmigrated to Toronto, so the grains of salt are everywhere.


dwillen
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Find a different insurance agent if you think yours is feeding you a line of crap. There are plenty of good ones out there that would love to have your business. My uncle sells insurance in a different state. I would be happy to ask him (about that state) if you don’t feel like you’re getting a straight answer from anyone here.

On the plus side, your rates should go down when you update your status to married, I would think.


salty
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I never did that but I have a friend who does (in the winter).

It sounds like all this “advice” you got was from random people, and you haven’t yet called your insurance agent? Well, then I have a bit of advice for you… :)


sloaps
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I’m not an insurance agent, but from my recollection of how auto insurance works here:

If your vehicle is in or near the public right-of-way, then it should be insured.

If you have an auto loan, then then typically insurance is a requirement even if it’s not functioning.

Proof of insurance is required at the time of the vehicle’s annual inspection.

When leaving your car for extended periods, it’s best to change the oil/fluids/filters as preusual, keep a full tank of gas and simply add a stabilizer to the gas prior to storage. In the summer, mold will be an issue: keep the interior clean and covered. The indoor air quality of the interior of a car can be just as dangerous as an abandoned house: off gassing of VOCs, mold, etc.


Lyle
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I definitely do get a discount for low annual mileage. I haven’t driven my car since June, but I never really planned it that way so haven’t tried to suspend the insurance.


ejwme
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Rob – I haven’t talked to the insurance guy yet, just wanted some information so that if shenanigans came up, I could call them instead of swallowing them. I’m rather wary.

Sloaps – that’s a good list, thank you. I’m a little concerned about the whole diesel vs. gas thing, but I figure if I idle it for a few minutes twice a month, and disconnect the battery, I’ll be ok. My inspection is in November, so that’s easy (I’d go November to April for insurance).

The only thing that really worries me – I don’t want the exhaust system to rot out. My grandfather’s car… the muffler literally rusted through and fell off the bottom of the car, due to sitting in the driveway while he was having medical issues. I don’t want to let a perfectly good machine crumble while I ride my bike. Just because I don’t like to drive doesn’t mean I’m spiteful towards the poor machine!


salty
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If the car is sitting outside, you might want to get a cover. Corrosion will definitely be a problem if you don’t drive it (and if you do suspend the insurance you won’t be able to, at least not on the road, without fear of a penalty more severe than you’d get for something minor like killing a cyclist). I’ve had various cars that sat outside for various amounts of time. Usually the first thing I had troubles with were disc brakes, the rotors will rust and pit. You also might want to invest in a trickle charger if you don’t want to kill the battery.

Having cars sit outside without driving them has cost me a ton of money in repairs. It doesn’t seem to be nearly as bad with my current car which sits in a garage, I drive it about once a month.


Marko82
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I have a piece-o-crap car sitting in my driveway that cost less than $200 a year to insure through the lizard insurance. I have all of the uninsured/underinsured, Medical fees stuff at their maximum offered values. What jacks the rates up is the ‘comprehensive’ part of the insurance – the part where they fix your car if you are at fault, or a tree falls on it in the driveway. Just keep the insurance year-round and either add/drop the comprehensive part as the need exists. That way you could use the car any time and still be covered, but more covered when you are using it more. 2-cents.

+1 for not driving costing more in repairs if not done with some care


Ohiojeff
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@ewjme Another thing to ask about is what happens if you get hit or otherwise injured while biking. I believe that your motor vehicle insurance is the first line of coverage in the event that you are injured riding a bicycle. And if you are injured by a driver who has insured with 1-800-barely-any-coverage, you might be glad of an auto policy that includes uninsured /under-insured motorist coverage.


Tabby
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there are some occasional use insurance policies that you may be able to get- like mentioned above they are meant for convertibles and classic cars.

the issue with canceling your insurance during the warm months is that a car that is registered must be insured. If you cancel your insurance you must send your tags back in within something like 30-60 days


Tabby
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also found this description of seasonal insurance on one of those insurance rate search sites. It sounds just like what you are looking for.

“Most insurance companies offer some type of seasonal insurance, which can be extremely useful for drivers that own a summer or winter home with a car, drivers that use bikes during pleasant weather and anyone else that simply doesn’t need a vehicle year-round.”

Link to the website: http://www.carinsurance.org/2010/06/how-seasonal-car-insurance-coverage-can-lower-premium-rates/


robjdlc
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Sloaps list is pretty spot on. Basically, if you have your car parked somewhere that something could happen to it (in front of your house, under a tree) then its wise to have insurance, and proof of insurance will be required at certain times in your cars life, but otherwise no one will know / check / care/ etc.


StuInMcCandless
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+1 Marko and Tabby.

I’d keep it insured, if only so that you can actually take it out and drive it once or twice a month. What salty said definitely matters. You can add frozen wheel bearings to the list of things that degrade when a car isn’t driven. *learned the hard way*

Your big bargaining point with the ins co is that you can expect your annual mileage to be low.


Mick
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When I owned a car, the brakes needed $300 worth of work every inspection because I left the car sitting too much. I was told to drive it once a week for a few miles.

Was that due to being stored outdoors, uncovered? I don’t know. Is there someothing you can do with the brakes if you know they are not going to be used for months? Again, I don’t know.

I’m not sure how much insurance costs, but storage/repair costs from leaving a car sitting could exceed a few months insurance.


Boazo
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On my old Dodge Shadow, a wheel (or more than one) wouldn’t rotate if I let the car sit outside w/o running it along time. Something in the wheel rusts together… I forget if its the hub to rotor or what, but what you have to do is jack each wheel up and belt it with a big sledge hammer, maybe quite a bit, until you can turn the wheel with your hand. Its going to seem very unnatural to hit the wheel like that, esp the first time. There’s an anti sieze product you can put on the wheel to prevent it.


salty
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Mick, from my own experience being outdoors is the biggest factor for any of this. I used to put my convertible in the garage all winter and never had any problems. Sitting outside, I would start to have rust on the brakes within a couple of weeks and if I let it sit a month the rotors were essentially toast.

I’m not sure if a car cover would help but it couldn’t hurt.


Lyle
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I left my car in a garage and the rotors rusted after about two months. I haven’t got around to replacing them yet — who knows what else has seized in the meantime.

This is the best argument for car-sharing…


HiddenVariable
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add another to the list of people who let a car sit and had the rotors fall apart. took me all morning to replace the damned things. i had to pound the hell out of them with a big hammer. as boazo says, it is a very unnatural feeling. apparently this is the way it’s done, though.


Boazo
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Yeah I think that’s the way its done, the first that happened to me I went down to a garage and asked a mechanic if I should hit the wheel with a mallet to get it off, and he said “your going to need a big f..ing hammer”.


salty
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I would love to set up some sort of car sharing – which somewhat ties back into the original topic because insurance/liability seems like the biggest obstacle to doing it.

I assume we’d need something like the law that just passed in CA which makes it a “non-commercial” activity. I don’t think I’ll hold my breath on that one coming here anytime soon though. :(

http://www.smartplanet.com/business/blog/business-brains/california-carsharing-bill-signed-into-law-clears-away-insurance-hurdle/10592/

[ok, that is the second time I’ve had a post fail to appear. My assumption is it got flagged as “spam” – I’m typing this to test my theory that ending a post with a link is a cause.]


salty
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I would love to set up some sort of car sharing – which somewhat ties back into the original topic because insurance/liability seems like the biggest obstacle to doing it.

I assume we’d need something like the law that just passed in CA which makes it a “non-commercial” activity. I don’t think I’ll hold my breath on that one coming here anytime soon though. :(

[ok, posting a 3rd time without the link, i think i’m getting caught by the spam filter?]


sloaps
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Re: rotors. My front rotors are all pitted. I hardly drive, and when I do I rarely brake. Talking with a few mechanics yield a common perspective that most rotors are made from imported, poorer quality steel.

However, I believe it may have more to do with the magnesium chloride (MgCl2) that is being used more during deicing in the winter. My brake lines and cylinders for my rear brakes had to be replaced due to corrosion. Slowly but surely, laboratory testing will find that although magnesium and for that matter potassium chlorides are less harmful to highways and bridges, they really put a hurt on motor vehicles.


Lyle
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Aluminum rims and steel hubs rust together :(

After you get your wheels off, wirebrush or otherwise clean up the mating surfaces until they’re nice and clean and smooth, then apply a good layer of moly anti-seize before putting them back on. This way, should you have the bad luck to get a flat after dark in a cold rain, you might manage to get the wheel off before hypothermia sets in.

Having learned the hard way, like most things…


ejwme
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yoi.

So I just called the insurance agent, and she said two very interesting things.

1) no marriage break. she said our rates will go down the most if we combine policies and get covered under the same plan, both cars. Add in the discount for the house too, and there’s no marriage break. sigh. At least there’s no penalty?

2) drop the comprehensive… she said something about a tree dropping on it and I didn’t have the presence of mind to remind her that the tree’s owner would be responsible for that damage. I think I now need to admit that I don’t know exactly what insurance I have. It’s a long, boring story that is summed up by my being lazy and having excellent insurance, but no comprehensive. I’ve decided if I wreck this car, I really don’t deserve another or any financial compensation at all.

Ok, a third thing – she said if I drop insurance all together the state will want me to surrender the plates like immediately and will hunt me down if I don’t. I don’t really have a problem with that. Getting them back might be a pain too. But she also said she’d look in to the deal with seasonal information. I tried to tell her I knew what months I’d leave it, but she said it’s better to get a quote without specific times listed, instead to call when I was ready to lower it and call back when I wanted it upped – that way I remain in control of the insurance and I’m not stuck by the insurance company between a raised rate and a late or early snowmageddeon or broken leg.

She’ll email me what she can find. Sounds like selling my car is more what I want to do, since I can’t afford to let it sit, and I don’t want to drive it. Funny how it keeps coming back to that :D

Thank you guys for all the information.


salty
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hm, i will have to ask my friend who did it – maybe he just dropped the comp. part of the insurance in the winter or something.

i think if you have to surrender your plate to the state the fees to get them back will outweigh any insurance savings you realize.

definitely do (1) though, that will probably save you more money than any of this.


Nick D
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Having owned many cars, and stored almost all of them for an extended period of time, storing cars outside can quickly destroy them.

Unless you are willing to invest in a good car cover (which will cost $200-400), don’t cover it. Cheap covers hold moisture under the cover, leaving you worse off.

They make wheel covers to protect the rotors. ejwme, you actually pass an RV with them at the bottom of Logans Ferry.

Also, everyone is correct that a registered car in PA has to be insured, and the state often requests you to turn in the plate after the insurance company reports that you dropped coverage. However, in my experience, they do not always require you to return the tags. Sometimes, if they request you plate, if you can prove that the vehicle isn’t being driven, you can keep it registered.

Unless you are paying a ton for insurance, I would just keep the car insured–you never know when you may need it.

If you are going to store it, and have to store it outside, there is a lot you can do to prep it to minimize damage.

Sloaps is completely right about cheap rotors–the rust faster, warp more easily, and suffer from fade much quicker. I always recommend buying high quality brake parts. The downside is, a good rotor (Brembo, Rotora, Ate, etc) often cost 2-5 times more than it’s generic counterpart.

What Lyle said about anti-seize is a good tip. I put anti-seize on the inside and outside of the rotor hat to keep the wheel from sticking to the rotor, and the rotor from sticking to the hub. Also, put it on the round part of the hub if you have hub-centric wheels.

One of the best ways to keep a car from deteriorating is to keep it clean, and run it every so often, even just back and forth a few feet.

Put a good sealant on the paint, a good protectant (with UV-inhibitors) on all vinyl, rubber, and plastic surfaced, and spray down the exhaust, struts, shocks, door jams, trunk jams, etc with WD-40. Do not spray the brake rotors (unless you plan on removing the wheels, cleaning the rotors, and replacing the brake pads before you drive it again).


ejwme
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Hmm…

So I am paying a ton for insurance (remember the two accidents? totaled 2 cars [no other damage to anything, very self contained carnage, but they don’t care] while having comprehensive). But that will go down this next year, as one dissappears into the fog of time. Next year it’s as if neither ever happened.

The thing I know more about myself is that I won’t do all the little maintenance things that everybody has outlined. I’ll intend on it. I’ll get around to it, maybe in the eternal “next week”. And by September I’ll have a very expensive driveway decoration.

I’ll lower the insurance for the summer, since I’ll drive it way less. Maybe by summer’s end I’ll take the plunge and just sell it. I hate to do that, it’s the nicest car we own. But hubby won’t drive it (manual). And I don’t want to drive period. But it should have an owner who will treat it right and appreciate it for more than the heated seats and fantastic mileage.

sigh. I’m darn lucky to have such problems.

Thank you guys for all the help.


Lyle
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Very short duration of engine operation hastens exhaust system decay. Condensation occurs, but it never gets hot enough to dry out. I suspect heated garages mitigate problems but not certain. I like stainless steel.


Boazo
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@ surrendering your plates if you drop insurance

They let me keep my plates even when I sold my car to the junk man … I mean the guy I sold the car to let me keep them. Remember that person you talked to is trying to sell insurance so she might not be the best source.


edmonds59
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Nope, it says right on the documentation that comes with you PA registration card and sticker that if you drop insurance, you have 30 days or something to send the plates in.


churchill5
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Something else to consider. I went to live in the UK for 2 years but didn’t want to sell my car since it was paid for and in perfectly fine condition. A family friend, who was an agent, recommended I keep some level of theft and fire auto insurance. His reasoning was that if I didn’t have insurance of any sort for a long period of time I would get crushed when i tried to sign back up. Apparently, even though I had 16 years of a no accidents/claims on my record i would fall into the high-risk, uninsured driver category if I didn’t have record for 2 years. The idea being that they can’t assess my risk if I had no recent record. Just wanted to pass it on, i’m not sure if this is true or if it would apply to a shorter periods of time


dwillen
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To get the discounted rate from our current insurance carrier in PA, we had to provide proof of continuous coverage (with our other, out of state insurance company) for the previous 5 years. Our agent said they don’t always ask, but when the corporate office requests proof you have to provide it or they take away your discount.


nick
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i got a pretty good deal on insurance. perhaps because i am a male who never owned a car until 26. i have a driver’s license since i was 17, with a perfect driving record for the past 9 years (or should i say biking). this they did factor in when computing my rate. i didn’t notice any penalty due to a lack of continuing coverage.


dwillen
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I think we have some sort of special price to get people to switch over from another company, thus they wanted proof that we actually switched, and didn’t just buy a car and sign up out of the blue.


Mick
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Thank you for not driving.


steevo
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Also, people when dealing with an agent, make sure

you tell them that you are a cyclist and need full

tort auto.

It is my understanding that there is a upper limit

to how much money you can get if you are hit while

on your bicycle depending on your car (think you

lose both you legs and cant have any “pain and

suffering” money)


Bikelove2010
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*note on the marriage thing. I don’t know how old you are, but when my husband and I got married his insurance went down because being a married man makes you less of a risk. It has an age on it though. It was if you were over a certain age OR married (the age was 27 or something)


StuInMcCandless
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I’m pretty sure that cut-off is 25, but I don’t know if 25 itself is part of the upper/cheaper or lower/costlier side.

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