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Temporary Car Insurance: What Are Your Best Options?

4 minute read

Devon Taylor

By Devon Taylor

Temporary car insurance isn’t that common, but it can come in handy. It’s primarily for vehicles that are only driven for a short period of time. Popular uses for temporary car insurance are when driving a rental vehicle or using a car sharing program. There are many options to insure a vehicle over the short-term. It doesn’t necessarily require a policy that is separate from your existing automotive policy. In this article, we dive into temporary car insurance. Here are the best options to secure coverage, if you find yourself needing it.

Explaining Temporary Car Insurance

Temporary car insurance policies are typically used when you only require a vehicle to be covered for a short period of time. It’s typically less than six months, but could be as small as a few days. For any coverage over six months, insurance companies will probably offer a standard policy instead. Some will be reluctant to write a policy for less than six months, however. It might be difficult to actually get temporary insurance for only a few days, for example. (Although it is technically possible.)

There are plenty of reasons you might need temporary car insurance. Maybe you bought a new car, but only plan to own it for a short period of time. Or maybe you need some instant coverage, but want to take more time to shop around for a better or cheaper long-term policy.

Rental car companies require drivers to have insurance on all vehicles they issue, even if the car is only being used for a day or two. (Your regular car insurance may cover you here. Your credit card company may also offer protection, assuming you pay for your rental with the card.)

Vehicle-sharing collective groups are growing in popularity, especially among young people. If you use a car through one of these programs, you still need to make sure you have adequate insurance when driving. Even if you’re borrowing a vehicle from a friend or relative for a couple weeks, you need to have your insurance in order. All of these situations are perfect for temporary auto insurance.

Temporary Car Insurance Options

Buying your short term vehicle coverage from an insurance company might seem like the obvious option. However, there are actually several ways to acquire this type of insurance. You may already have the coverage and not even know it. As we mentioned, many major credit cards offer coverage for rental cars or other short-term use vehicles. Additionally, you standard car insurance (if you have it) might also provide coverage for temporarily driving a different car. In rare cases, even home insurance policies sometimes provide this kind of coverage.

Before going shopping for short-term car insurance, be sure to contact you existing insurance or credit card companies. You can ask them directly if any of your existing products offer you temporary auto insurance. The answer might surprise you.

Another potential option is to work with the owner of the car you will be using. Ask your friend to call their insurance company and see if their coverage extends to other temporary drivers. You might not even have to purchase your own temporary coverage at all.

Additionally, there is a thing called a “non-owner liability” policy. It can be purchased for temporary insurance situations when you do not own a car outright. Keep in mind though that non-owner liability policies don’t cover physical damage to a vehicle (often known as “collision insurance”). It only covers potential liability. Be sure to know exactly what coverages you need when seeking out temporary automobile insurance.

What’s Covered

There are a number of different coverage options available with temporary car insurance, including the following.

  • Liability coverage
  • Comprehensive coverage
  • Collision coverage
  • Uninsured and underinsured motorists
  • Medical payments
  • Towing
  • Loss of use coverage

Temporary coverage generally reflects the same coverages that you would have on a regular vehicle that they own or lease. If you have a $500 deductible on comprehensive coverage, for example, this same coverage and deductible would likely extend to a rental car or short-term use vehicle.

Temporary Car Insurance Costs

The costs for short-term car insurance can be difficult to determine. Most insurance companies only offer coverage terms of six months or longer. Insurance companies typically charge the same monthly amount for short-term policies. So if you pay $80 a month to insure your vehicle long-term, then only needing six months would be $80 times six months. That’s a total cost of $480. Ultimately, how much the insurance costs will depend on a few things. The age, value, and make/model of the car matters. So does how the vehicle will be used. For example, how many miles will be driven, on average, per week or month? Is it used for personal or commercial use? Finally, your own driving driving record and insurance history could impact the price.

One important thing to know about car insurance, though, is that it normally does not operate on a contract basis. That means even if you are forced to pay for six months of insurance coverage, you can still cancel early and get a full refund. Your insurance company may not like it, but it’s perfectly legal. It’s worth asking about what your obligations are any time you buy an insurance policy.

The Bottom Line

Temporary car insurance is important to have for anyone using a vehicle for a short period of time. The last thing you want is to be caught driving without insurance. However, finding temporary insurance can be tricky. Most traditional insurance companies don’t offer policies for less than six months. The good news is that there are still others options available. Your pre-existing insurance policies or your credit card company may have you covered. Worse case scenario, you could just buy the six month policy and then cancel it. You should see a full refund of any unused premiums. Do some sleuthing to determine the best and most affordable option available to you. When in doubt, check with a licensed insurance broker.

Temporary Car InsuranceShutterstock
Devon Taylor

Managing Editor

Devon is an experienced writer and a father of three young children. He's simultaneously trying to build college funds and plan for an eventual retirement. He's been in online publishing since 2013 and has a degree from the University of Guelph. In his free time, he loves fanatically following the Blue Jays and Toronto FC, camping with his family, and playing video games.


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