Temporary Car Insurance as the name implies, is a short-term, temporary policy to insure a motor vehicle for a specified period, such as a day, a week, or a month. Though you may see them advertised, short-term policies like these are not standard in the car insurance industry.
Auto insurers typically only sell six-month or one-year policies at a time. Companies that issue temporary car insurance may have shorter-term options. However, those policies may not offer the same coverage as standard car insurance and may not protect you in case of an accident, theft, fire, vandalism, or other damage.
What Is Temporary Car Insurance? (Explained)
Typically, when you buy car insurance you’re buying liability coverage—and possibly collision coverage—for at least six months. Some car insurance companies will let you purchase a policy that covers you for 12 months if you’d prefer, though it’s not as common.
Temporary car insurance can cover you for a shorter amount of time if your car insurance company offers it. For example, you may need coverage for three months instead of six—or even just for one month. In that scenario you may want a shorter-term policy, so that you don’t pay for car insurance coverage you won’t need or use.
It’s important to keep in mind that most car insurance companies don’t specifically offer temporary car insurance. Instead, they offer car insurance policies with varying terms, though again, it’s typical for the minimum coverage period to last at least six months.
Companies that offer temporary car insurance may require you to pay one or several months’ worth of premiums in advance before your coverage takes effect. This money may not be refundable even if you end up canceling the policy early.
Who Might Need Temporary Car Insurance?
Temporary car insurance is good if you need to borrow someone else’s vehicle for a short time. It’s also helpful if you’re thinking of lending your car to someone who needs it for a few days. If you are moving to a new house and need to rent a truck or van, you may be thinking you need temporary insurance to drive it.
You may also be wondering if you can save money buying temporary insurance for your college student who is only home and driving a vehicle during school breaks. Perhaps you don’t own a car but want to take a camping trip with the family and would like to rent an RV or trailer for a week or two.
If you are planning to only drive a vehicle you don’t own as part of a ride-sharing service, it doesn’t make sense to pay for a full coverage policy. If you bought a car that you plan to ‘flip’ and sell right away, purchasing a six-month or year policy doesn’t sound practical.
These all seem like good reasons to buy temporary car insurance coverage. After all, why would you buy something that lasts six months to a year if you only need it for a few days or weeks? If you’re asking yourself any of these questions, you should first get a better idea of what a regular insurance policy entails and what it covers.
Why Buy Temporary Car Insurance?
There are a number of reasons why someone may not need car insurance for the long term, making a temporary policy the better option.
For example, you may look for a temporary car insurance policy if:
- You’re renting a car.
- You’re borrowing someone else’s car and aren’t listed on their insurance policy.
- You’re temporarily driving someone else’s car to take a trip.
- You bought a car but plan to resell it relatively quickly.
- You’re traveling to another country and plan to drive while you’re there.
- You drive for a ride-sharing service but don’t own the vehicle you drive.
- You want to supplement your existing car insurance coverage.
- You need to add coverage for a driver who’s staying in your household temporarily.
Temporary car insurance could help you get covered in those scenarios or any other situation in which you don’t have a need for a more permanent policy.
When Don’t You Need It?
There are many situations in which you may not need to go the extra mile to buy a temporary policy. For example, say that you’re renting a car with your credit card, and your card includes a rental car collision damage waiver to protect you against theft or damages while you’re driving. In that case you may not need any other supplemental coverage.
You could also potentially skip out on temporary insurance if you purchase coverage from the rental car company instead. Most rental car companies offer their own add-on insurance policies that you can include in your rental agreement. These policies cover you temporarily while you’re renting the vehicle.
If you already have a standard car insurance policy in place, that may also provide temporary coverage for rental cars. If your coverage carries over, you’d be subject to the same limits and exclusions as you would with your personal vehicle. You’d also have to pay your regular deductible if you get in an accident with a rental car or it’s stolen or vandalized.
Temporary Car Insurance Advantages
If your situation warrants, there can be advantages to securing short-term, temporary insurance. Some organizations specialize in this kind of insurance, typically offering terms between 1-28 days, and some even by the hour.
Conditions can vary between states, so check online for help in finding one in your area to get a quote. Here are some benefits of temporary car insurance to consider:
- Temporary car insurance policies are typically independent of any other insurance policy, so any claims made under such a policy will not impact the premium rates of the vehicle’s owner.
- For any claim filed under a short-term auto coverage category, the vehicle remains under the owner’s control rather than the driver’s.
- Since no one will file a claim under a pre-existing, personal car insurance policy, any no-claims-discount (NCD) earned will remain unaffected and in force.
How To Shop For Temporary Car Insurance
If you decide that buying temporary car insurance best fits your needs, it is certainly available. Still, you should approach it objectively and make sure you understand the terms of the specific policy you intend to buy.
Here are some things to keep in mind when shopping for a temporary car insurance policy:
- Get several quotes for comparison. You should always do this when shopping for any kind of service to make sure you are getting a fair market price.
- Check the seller’s reputation online or in person. Look for favorable reviews or testimonials from past customers on their website, or even ask the seller for a customer referral you can personally speak to.
- Check the Better Business Bureau to ensure there are no legal actions against the seller or history of fraud.
- Read the policy carefully and understand exactly what it includes should you need to make a claim. Look for and ask about these common coverages:
- Liability limits
- Towing charges
- Medical/Injury Coverage and Limits
Be sure you are aware of the total costs, policy term, and when the coverage will be in effect. Do not drive the vehicle before the policy is in force.
You may need to make a deposit upfront in addition to the premium costs. If so, check the conditions of the deposit refund, and find out if any early cancellation or transaction fees may apply.