Do you have to buy auto insurance if you only drive occasionally?

Car insurance for occasional drivers is still required by law, although you may want to carry minimum coverage. You may be eligible for a discount on car insurance for occasional drivers.

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UPDATED: May 5, 2022

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Written By: Laura BerryReviewed By: Joel OhmanUPDATED: May 5, 2022Fact Checked

Here's what you need to know...

  • You are required to carry insurance coverage on your vehicle even if you only drive it occasionally
  • You need to talk to an insurance agent to see if you could be receiving discounts for infrequent driving
  • It’s a good idea to compare rate quotes often to see if you could be saving more

If you only drive occasionally, do you still have to buy car insurance? There are many reasons that a person may only drive from time to time.

  • Age – One reason is that they are a new driver, such as a teen, whose parents won’t let them drive regularly until they get some experience (and age) under their belt.
  • Location – Another common reason that someone might only drive occasionally is that they live close to everything: work, shopping, entertainment and so on.
  • Public transportation access – Urban dwellers that live near public transportation may only use vehicles for vacations or occasional out of town business. There is a saying that only crazy people drive their own vehicles in the city.
  • Medical limitations  – There are also those folks who can only drive at certain times of the day or in limited quantities due to medical issues. These vehicles sit in the driveway for the majority of the time.
  • Work at home – Lastly, you have those lucky individuals who work from home. Many of these people don’t have to even meet with clients; they do everything via computer or the telephone, only getting out for recreational purposes or to run errands and so on.

Even in these situations, you are required to have auto insurance if you own a vehicle. In pretty much every state in the U.S., you must purchase auto insurance (or show proof of financial responsibility to the state) if you are going to drive — even if you don’t drive that often.

Read on to learn some more details on why you have to purchase auto insurance even if you only drive occasionally and then enter your zip above to get started comparing car insurance rates online!

Infrequent Drivers STILL Need Auto Insurance


With so many different types of people using their cars for such short periods of time, the question is often raised as to whether they need auto insurance if they only drive occasionally.

The short answer to this question is yes, no matter how much you drive, if you own a car you have to have it insured.

If you want some details, read on and learn exactly why it is so important that you have appropriate coverage on your vehicle, even if you only drive once in a while.

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Why You Need Auto Insurance No Matter What

There are two reasons that you need auto insurance, no matter how much you drive.

  • The law – It doesn’t change or bend for occasional drivers. Your state has certain requirements for a registered vehicle and if you don’t meet them then you will have to face the consequences.
    • In some states, this could mean losing your license, registration and paying a fine.
    • In other states, you could lose your license, registration, pay a fine, and have your vehicle impounded until you purchase insurance for it.
    • In more severe states, you might face losing your license and registration, paying a fine, having your vehicle impounded and jail time as well. Those are some pretty serious consequences.
  • Risk – Regardless of how little you drive, every time you get into your vehicle you are risking an auto accident. Here is the bottom line: no matter how careful you are, accidents happen. If you’re involved in an accident, the police will demand to see your proof of insurance regardless of whose fault it is.

Many states have a policy of proof on demand for auto insurance. What this means is that at any time a police officer can pull you over, and can demand that you show proof of insurance.

You don’t have to be breaking the law for this to occur and you don’t have to be exhibiting suspicious behavior.

If you are pulled over and you don’t have proof of insurance, then the police officer can force you to get out of your car and walk home. This is not a common occurrence, but you just need to be aware of the possibilities.

Because every state is different, you should visit the National Association of Insurance Commissioners website to see specifics for your state.

The Coverage an Occasional Driver Needs

Now that you understand why you need coverage, you should determine just how much coverage you need. Here are some tips to help you find the best coverage to fit your needs:

  • Financed vehicle demands extra coverage – As with any type of vehicle, if your car or truck is financed then you are going to have to have comprehensive and collision coverage in addition to your state-required minimum.
  • Talk to your agent – You can, however, save some money on your premiums by explaining to your agent just how much you drive your vehicle.
    • There are several levels of drivers from what is considered recreational driving (less than 10 miles a week for most companies) to excessive or work driving (more than 150 miles a week). Typically, insurance companies recognize four to five tiers of driving levels but, as this can vary, you should check your insurance company’s policy.
    • In most cases, you can see a reduction of $200 or more dollars a year on your auto insurance for recreational driving.
  • Consider lower coverage – If your vehicle isn’t financed, then you are in a position to save a great deal of money on your premiums.
    • Rather than comprehensive and collision insurance, you may want to consider maintaining the state’s minimums and collision insurance.
    • If you don’t have a garage to keep your vehicle in, you may want to keep a small comprehensive policy with a high deductible just in case someone steals your car or it’s vandalized, but the choice is yours.

Again, letting your insurance company know how many miles you drive a week will help to reduce your premiums.

Choosing the Right Car Insurance Company

If you already have auto insurance and you love your company, then you may feel that this section isn’t for you. Wrong!

First of all, auto insurance rates typically change from year to yearThis isn’t just based on your driving history, but also on what the Department of Insurance for each state determines is an acceptable base to start from for insurance.

What this means for you is that you could find a rate several hundred dollars less than what you are currently paying.

In addition, you may find that market rates have gone up, but as an established customer you aren’t seeing an increase in your premiums. It’s recommended that all drivers compare their auto insurance rates every six months or at least once a year.

Also, read independent reviews about the different auto insurance companies before you make a choice. You will learn things like customer satisfaction rates and how easy their websites are to use.

Many people think they are getting a good rate or that they are happy with the company they are with so they don’t mind paying a bit more, that is until they use a car insurance rate quote tool.

Imagine finding out that you are spending $30 to $40 a month extra in premiums because you like the company you are with. The quote tool is free, it is easy to use and you are under no obligation to make a purchase. Why not try it out now?

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.

A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Written by Laura Berry
Former Insurance Agent Laura Berry

Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP® Joel Ohman

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