27 April 2022

What affects the insurance premium on a convertible?

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With the arrival of spring, many motorists are excited about buying a convertible for the warm summer months. But some have sticker shock when it comes to insuring a new vehicle. Some features convertible cars, combined with how they are used, can send the insurance premium sky high. So what can you do to reduce your maintenance or insurance costs? Here are some practical tips.

More components to repair

Why are convertibles more expensive to insure? The short answer is that they usually have more components in the roof opening and closing mechanisms. In the event of a collision, these components often need to be replaced, which drives up the cost of repair.

Whether you opt for a hard top or soft top, convertibles have an electronic or manual mechanism—with arms, levers, gears, and fasteners—to raise and lower the roof. Unlike a regular car roof, the roof of a convertible can also be made up of multiple removable panels or canvas that can be damaged in a collision.

Convertibles are also designed differently to withstand collisions and remain safe. On a regular car, the roof provides structural strength. When there is no roof, the vehicle needs to be strengthened in some other way. To do that, automakers add reinforcements at key locations, often under the vehicle or in the doors. If these reinforcements are damaged in a crash, they must be replaced, which adds to the cost.

You don’t “put the top down” all year long!

The higher cost of insuring a convertible can be quite frustrating—but there are ways you can save.

Remember, convertible cars are most popular during the warm summer months. Most convertible owners store their vehicles during the winter, which saves them money on their insurance premiums.

Insurance companies offer the option of suspending coverage during the storage period. If you contact your representative to let them know how long your vehicle will be in storage, they will adjust your insurance coverage and reduce your premium for that period. A new proof of registration will be sent to you.

Storing your convertible can also save you money on your vehicle registration. Contact Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ)—by phone, in person, or online—and tell them that you’re storing your vehicle. The SAAQ will give you a refund on your registration costs and issue a new proof of registration for your vehicle.

Prepare your vehicle for storage...

Before putting your vehicle in storage, make sure it’s properly prepared. First, check that all fluids are filled to prevent air from seeping into the reservoirs. This includes brake fluid, coolant, and power steering fluid. The same goes for fuel.

Fill up your tank as much as you can and, if possible, use high octane (Grade 91 or higher) to help extend the life of the fuel. An octane booster can also help preserve gasoline in the tank.

Just before storage, it is often recommended to give the vehicle a good cleaning and apply wax to protect the paint. If possible, put the vehicle up on blocks and remove the wheels to prevent the tires from going flat and preserve the suspension.

You can also store your vehicle on a dolly. Lastly, disconnect the battery to keep it from dying.

... so you’re ready to hit the road come spring!

Before getting back on the road in spring, contact the SAAQ to take your vehicle out of storage. Then contact your insurer to tell them that you will be driving the vehicle again. The SAAQ and your insurer will send you new documents confirming your right to drive and the reinstatement of your suspended coverage. Remember that a vehicle that has been categorized as “stored” is not allowed to be driven on Québec roads. There are significant financial consequences for driving a vehicle in this category, such as severe fines and no insurance coverage in the event of an accident.

When you’re ready to hit the road again, reconnect the battery and check the fluids before starting the engine. Make sure there were no leaks during storage. Start the engine and let it idle for a few minutes. This will allow the fluids to circulate and let the alternator properly charge the battery.

Once everything seems to be working as it should, you’re good to go! Drive around until the gas tank is empty to use up the old fuel that has been sitting for a few months. An oil change is also recommended after storage. Drive safely!