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Can you tow a car that has no insurance?

Here's what you should know...
  • You’re legally liable for carrying auto insurance on any vehicle that you own when it is licensed to be driven on public highways and freeways
  • If your vehicle isn’t registered through the Department of Motor Vehicles, it can’t legally be operated unless it’s operated on private property. Since the car can’t be driven, the vehicle doesn’t need to be insured to avoid penalties
  • If you’re towing the vehicle to the shop or to a buyer’s home, by law you don’t need insurance on the car unless it has a valid registration
  • When the car is being towed behind a vehicle on a trailer, the insurance on the vehicle that the trailer is hitched to will partially extend to the trailer and car being towed. Only liability coverage will pay when there’s an accident that results in damage
  • If the vehicle that you’re towing is damaged while it’s in tow, the damage won’t be covered under the other vehicle’s insurance. You will need to buy a separate policy for the vehicle that includes collision insurance if you don’t want to pay for the damage yourself

If you own a vehicle that’s not currently operable, you don’t necessarily have to insure it. By law, you’re only required to carry personal auto insurance on a vehicle when that vehicle is registered to be operated on public roadways. If you make a decision to own a licensed car that’s uninsured, you take the risk of being fined.

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Inoperable vehicles aren’t always just sitting in your driveway or your backyard. If you finally decide that it’s time to repair the vehicle or sell it to someone who will, you might have to arrange a tow to get the car from point A to point B. Even when the vehicle is in tow, you don’t necessarily need insurance. Here’s what you need to know about insuring a vehicle that’s being towed:

Does a parked vehicle legally have to be insured?

Car being towed away after breakdown

If you have no intentions of driving your car, you might be tempted to forgo paying the insurance premiums. Before you cancel your insurance, it’s important that you know when you have a legal duty to maintain state-mandated insurance coverage. If you cancel your policy too early, you’ll be left paying some hefty penalties.

By law, in a state with compulsory auto insurance requirements, any vehicle that has a valid registration must have insurance at all times. If you have filed the vehicle with the DMV as non-operational, you are exempt from having to comply with liability insurance requirements. The same can be said for cars that aren’t registered at all, but failing to register the car can lead to other penalties for the vehicle owner.

Do you have to purchase insurance when you’re towing an inoperable car?


If the vehicle is filed as a planned non-operational vehicle, you can choose to tow the vehicle without any type of insurance. As long as the vehicle that’s towing the car has insurance, the liability coverage will extend to pay for third-party damages sustained if the trailer jackknifes and the vehicle in tow damages another car.

Some carriers will only extend liability coverage to a vehicle that’s being towed if both vehicles are owned by the same individual. It’s important to check with your insurer to see if your personal auto coverage will pay for losses while you’re towing the vehicle that’s not insured.

Will physical damage coverage extend to the vehicle being towed?

Full coverage won’t extend to the car hitched to the lead car, even if the lead car is fully insured. Physical damage coverage only pays for claims made when the listed vehicle or a temporary substitute vehicle is involved in a loss. Trailer or vehicles that are being towed do not qualify for the comprehensive and collision coverage extension.

Can you get physical damage coverage for a vehicle being towed?

If you’re worried about the vehicle getting damaged while it’s being towed, you might want to consider buying coverage on the car before you hitch it up. You need to buy not only liability coverage but also comprehensive and collision if you want your insurer to pay for repairs after you’re involved in an accident. You’ll still have to pay the deductible that you’re carrying before the insurer pays.

What happens if you hire a towing company to tow your vehicle?


If you hire a towing company to take your vehicle to its final destination, you may be able to purchase extra insurance through the company. The company will be responsible for carrying the liability coverage and paying liability claims made against the driver.

If the driver is responsible for the damage to your car while it’s in their possession, the company will be liable for repairing it. Unfortunately, if you don’t buy protection that’s offered to you, it might be difficult to prove the company’s negligence.

As far as the law is concerned, you can tow your car without insurance as long as it’s not insured. If you want to keep your registration valid to make getting your car back on the road easier, you need to get insurance today. Compare quotes online using a comparison tool, and you can bind a policy that satisfies the law.

Don’t worry about the price of towing with a full coverage insurance policy; compare rates today by entering your ZIP into the search box below!

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