Auto Insurance Question

I have a question regarding auto insurance. I don’t own a car, nor do I drive one regularly. I am away at college for about 46 out of 52 weeks of the year. My college, however, is within a 100 mile radius of my home address. Consequently, I only drive when I come home for breaks, the occasional 3-day weekend, etc.

Because the college I attend is within 100 miles of my home address, my parents’ auto insurance policy states that I must be insured. There reasoning for this is that my home and college are so close that the insurance company is convinced that I will be driving. I did an internship several hundred miles away a few semesters ago, and for that duration of time I was not on the policy (or any policy) since I would be doing no driving. So apparently, there is some distance at which they will relinquish me from the policy. I’m told that my parents changed insurance companies a few months ago, and the previous one had this same draconian policy.

I was not even aware that my parents had been insuring me for driving that I wouldn’t be doing until they told me just recently. I would like to spare them this financial burden, and I don’t have the means to pay for insurance myself, but the insurance company is adamant that if I’m away at a college within this mythical 100 mile radius, I must be insured. Apparently that’s so close that they’re unable to believe I won’t be driving, despite the fact that I don’t own a car and go home infrequently. When asked directly why this must be so, they say it’s because any other insurance company would assume the same thing, and were I not to be insured, there would be a “suspicious gap” in my insurance record.

If I have to give up driving even on the rare weekend that I’m home, I’ll gladly do so if it means saving over a thousand dollars a year. What are my options here? My parents have been paying my insurance all this time because they don’t want me to have this “suspicious gap” in my insurance record, but that sounds like scare tactics from the insurance company to me. I’m not legally obligated to hold auto insurance if I’m not driving, am I?

I’m putting this in GQ instead of IMHO, because, while I’d certainly like opinions here, I’d also like someone who is knowledgeable of insurance practices and policies that give me some straight-up factual information here. Thank you very much for any help you can offer.

Just to clarify: You don’t have a separate policy of your own, right? Instead, you’re listed as a driver on your parents’ policy. This would mean that they’re not insuring you as such, but rather you are a feature of their household that affects their rates.

I’ve never heard of the concept of a “suspicious gap” in one’s car insurance record. Has anyone else heard of that? Maybe they mean that not listing you on your parents’ policy would constitute a suspicious gap in their coverage.

Never heard of forced insurance before. There can’t possibly be such a thing as a suspicious gap. Get yourself off of the policy tout de suite.

That’s correct, I don’t have my own policy. I’m not exactly sure of the technical term, but I’m listed as one of the drivers on one of their vehicles.

I have heard of this type of thing with regards to people living in the same home, but never a 100 mile radius.
Do they own more than two vehicles? If there are three cars, and three drivers in (or apparently near) the home, they will not believe one driver is never driving one of the cars.
At any rate, you should be able to sign an affidavit promising that you will never drive one of their cars.

Thank you for mentioning this. I should have mentioned it myself in the OP. My parents do in fact own three cars. Two of them are their personal cars, and the third has been the “extra” that I drove in high school (and still do occasionally when I’m home). Now that I’m away, my high-school age sister is driving the third car.

You also have been able to very succinctly express the root of the matter here. Namely, there are multiple cars at the home, and multiple drivers, and, given the distance, the insurance company seems unable to believe that one of the drivers (me) is willing to forgo driving for a period of time. I’ll sign any affidavit or other paperwork they require, but (to my knowledge) such an option has never been presented.

Yes, there are ways to get you off of the policy. As RedSwinglineOne suggests, you might be able to sign an affidavit, or have an exclusion added onto the policy making clear that you aren’t covered. If your insurance company won’t do it, find one that will–if you aren’t using an independent insurance agent, one might be able to help.

But please understand, once you do so, you had damned sure better not drive the car–not occasionally on weekends, nor ever. You will have no liability coverage. Driving without liability coverage is illegal in most (all?) states and is a very, very bad idea, as it exposes your family to the risk of bankruptcy should you drive and be found liable for an accident.

Regarding the “suspicious gap,” I got a discount on my auto policy around 10 years ago because I had been continuously insured for some period of time (like 5 years). I haven’t paid attention lately to see if that’s still a typical discount with insurers, but it isn’t totally ridiculous.

Calling it “suspicious” does seem a little overly dramatic, though. It’s just recognition that someone who has been driving regularly for a while is likely to be a lower risk.

Most. Minimum car insurance requirements

Background on: Compulsory Auto/Uninsured Motorists | III

Mandatory Auto Insurance Does Not Reduce Number of Uninsured Drivers, Says Insurer Trade Group

I’ll second that. You don’t mention what state you’re in, and regulations vary considerably by state, but in MOST states, your parents could specifically endorse your policy to call you an “excluded operator.”

Also, you may need to be a little forceful to insist on this exclusion. In general, companies don’t like to make such exclusions because it can potentially expose them to bad faith lawsuits in the case that you DO get into an accident driving a car and they (the company) refuses to pay your claim. Even if you have the exclusion, you can say that you were misled, or tricked, or didn’t fully understand the provision, etc. Well, maybe not you, but someone less scrupulous. Insurance companies like to avoid situations and therefore may make you bend over backwards to get that exclusion.

I want to explain here that your parent’s insurance company is right.

You are more than an occassional rare driver of their car. They know and expect you will drive it around 6+ weeks a year.
Insurance companies are req’d (at least here in CA, ymmv, ianal) to cover the occassional unexpected driver. This is a Good Thing. That means when I take my car in for service, I don’t have to check Mike-the-Mechanics DRivers Lic and insurance car. If he takes it out for a test drive, I am covered. If I have a car-poll where we all religously drive our own cars, but today on the way home I have a blinding headache, I can pull over and let Bob-the-Cow-orker to drive.

You must have insurance to drive a car in almost every state, even if you just do so 6 weeks a year. If you drove your parents car, and you got into an accident, here’s what could happen:You could be cited. Your parents could be sued. The car could be impounded. Your parents inurance company then must decide whether or not to cover the car anyway. Although they pretty well would have to if you were a rare, unexpected,and occassional driver, you are not, as you admit. Then, they’d be in a pickle- if they covered you, they could be out 1000’s and maybe later a suit, as Meltdown sez. If they didn’t, then your parents would be upset and cancel.

Thus, by insisting that you have insurance-* as is the law*- they are right.

Now, why is it “over a thousand dollars a year”- do you have a bad driving record?

I believe it. Young male drivers are horribly expensive to insure because we/they, as a class, occasionally produce a horrific and horribly expensive traffic accident–and given he’s in college, he’s probably 20 years old or so.

Based on my 18 year old son with no accident history, and in school, I could only insure him for as little as $1,000 if it was liability only - no collision or comprehensive.

What Freddy & DrDeth said.

“Suspicious Gap” is a bit dramatic. But when you granulate from college and get a life, one of the things you’ll need to do is get car insurance. One of the questions on the car insurance application is “Have you been without car insurance for any time within the last 3(or 5) years?” if you answer “yes” to that one (or even “no” but can’t get an insurer to provide you an affidavit of coverage) then the insurance agent smiles politely and plops a Costco-sized tube of Astroglide on the desk and unfastens his belt…" You don’t want to have to answer “yes” to that question.

And before anyone jumps in here howling about how Insurance companies just made up another way to squeeze the dollars from people, consider for a moment WHY someone might have been without insurance. Sure, maybe they weren’t driving and didn’t need it (I’ve seen underwriters make exceptions to that rule for people who just moved from New York City and had just bought the car within a day or so of application), but usually it means 1) they were such dileriously awful risks that they were dropped by their former carrier and couldn’t afford coverage in the nonstandard market and 2) they were driving unlawfully uninsured and are probably just looking for an insurance card, at which time they will dump the policy.

It’s dues, bro. Pay 'em.

Would the situation be different if the OP did not have a valid driver’s license? IOW, would state law require his parents to carry him as a driver on their policy even if he could not legally drive at all?

Can one surrender one’s driver’s license, short of waiting for it to expire and failing to renew it? (The other option - deliberately doing something to get it suspended or revoked - seems so fraught with negative consequences that I’d say it’s not worth considering…)

Yup. In most states you can walk into a DMV or equivalent authority and tell them you wish to surrender your valid driver’s license. They’ll issue you a not-valid-for-driving state ID card instead.

Seniors often do it when they realize they’re no longer safe drivers. A close friend did it when she determined that her epilepsy made her an unsafe driver (after three serious accidents, though :rolleyes:)

Thank you for your detailed response. I’m aware that auto insurance is mandatory in most states if one is to be driving a car. As I stated above, though, I’d gladly forgo any and all driving (since it’s only even available to me a few weeks out of the year) to save a substantial amount of money. In short, I don’t think shelling out a large amount of money to the insurance company ever month is worth the average of two-three days of driving I do a month.

As to why I’m so expensive to insure, I’m a 20 year old male. iwakura43 and amarone hit it right on the head.

Inigo Montoya, I appreciate your insight, but it’s a bitter pill to swallow. Is it really far-fetched for an insurance company to believe that a college student would like to be without a car to save money? Is there anything I can do besides grabbing my ankles and bending over? This whole issue makes me somewhat nauseous. Like I have no choice in the world but open up my wallet lest I suffer the wrath of insurance companies in the future when I would like to drive a car.

Insurance companies have all kinds of odd rules. A while back I thought of changing to another company and I called 3 of them. Every single time their first question was “Do you have a DUI?” I assume had I said yes, the next sound I would have heard was “click”

No, some will cover you- but the rates go up a *shitload.
I understand hobscrk777, and I sympathize. But America is rather car orientated. Why not talk (or have your parents talk) with the Agent, see if they can cover you for that month and then a rider for no coverage for the rest?

Your parents might think differently. I’d find it worth a thousand bucks a year not to worry that my husband might absent-mindedly toss our uninsured son the car keys, and to be able to have my son drive for my convenience.

I’ve had the three-year issue explained to me a little differently. The way it was explained to me , the issue wasn’t exactly that you were being punished for not being insured for more than three years. It was more that you were considered a relatively new driver if you hadn’t had insurance coverage for at least the last three three years. How long you’ve had the license doesn’t say anything about your driving experience- I know many people whose jobs require them to have a license (but not to drive :confused: ) who’ve been licensed 15-20 years and haven’t driven since their road test, but most people won’t pay for insurance coverage for three years and then not drive at least a few times a month