Storing your car, boat or bike for the winter

As the weather changes in many parts of the country, we reluctantly look at putting away our summer toys:  that ragtop, pontoon boat or Harley-Davidson, for example. In addition to protecting them against harsh elements, there can be an insurance advantage. Ask your agent if your insurance company offers a credit for a reduction in coverage for items stored for an extended period of time and not in use, and find out whether you should follow up in the spring. Each insurance company has its own rules.

Autos

In Northern states – those mainly above the Mason-Dixon Line – you may be able to put your vehicle in storage and reduce coverage to other-than-collision (sometimes called comprehensive) coverage only. This typically requires a change to the policy to remove coverage. However, most carriers also require that you notify them when you want coverage added back to the policy in the spring. Some agents give you a token – such as car air fresheners to hang on the rear-view mirror – as a reminder to reinstate full coverage when you get that car rolling again.

Some carriers build this feature into the pricing on policies for exhibition auto vehicles – vehicles that clearly will not be driven in the winter. Check with your agent to see if this policy provision/endorsement applies to you.

Watercraft

As the temperatures start getting colder, experienced boaters prepare their watercraft to withstand harsh elements by storing them in a garage or shrink-wrapping the boat. Your watercraft policy may have an automatic layup period put in place at the time of issuance or renewal, providing months of reduced coverage at the insured’s choosing. During those months, coverage is limited to physical damage as outlined in the policy, and the annual premium reflects this layup period.

If you have the layup period in place, there is no need to call your agent unless you decide to take the boat out before the specified end date of the layup period. Ask your agent for details.

Motorcycles

If you aren’t riding your bike in the cold winter months, you may be able  to specify a period of time your motorcycle will be in storage, saving you premium dollars. If you have several motorcycles, find out whether a premium savings applies to all motorcycles or only one.

Some companies have a “sunny day clause” in place just for the motorcycle layup period. If there is an abnormally warm day during the normal layup period and you decide to take the bike out for a one-time spin, liability coverage is provided. This depends on the ride being a one-time event and not driving it all the way to, say, Florida. Check with your insurance agent to see if this type of coverage is provided on your policy.