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Temporary or Short-Term Car Insurance

Buying a temporary car insurance policy is an easy way to have auto insurance coverage for a short period of time.

Keys and card on paperwork

Temporary auto insurance isn’t an actual policy you buy from an insurance company. It’s regular car insurance you cancel before your policy’s six-month or one-year term ends. It can work as a type of month-to-month car insurance. There are several reasons why people need temporary car insurance, and several ways to get it.

You’ll learn all about that here, as well as:

What is Temporary Auto Insurance?

Temporary car insurance is a policy that covers you for days or weeks rather than six months or more. The most common type of temporary auto insurance is a standard car insurance policy that you cancel when you no longer need it. These short-term car insurance policies often only come with cheap liability coverage.

There are a few issues that can arise when buying temporary insurance:

  • Your insurer may charge you a cancellation fee.
  • If you don’t buy another policy when your temporary insurance ends, you’ll be uninsured. That’s illegal in almost every state.
  • It might leave you with a lapse in coverage. Having a coverage gap raises your rates when you buy car insurance again.

Another option is to enroll in a pay-as-you-go car insurance plan. Although this coverage isn’t any more temporary than any other kind, it’s another a short-term insurance option.

What Does Short-Term Car Insurance Cover?

Short-term car insurance can provide the same coverage standard car insurance provides. That means it can offer these kinds of coverage:

  • Liability
  • Collision
  • Comprehensive
  • Uninsured motorist
  • Medical payments
  • Loss of use

Not all temporary insurance policies provide all these coverage types, however. It’s up to the policyholder to pick the coverage options they want.

Many drivers looking for temporary car insurance also want the cheapest possible option. In that situation, buying a cheap liability only car insurance plan is the best bet. If you want specific types of coverage, make sure any policy you buy includes it.

How Can I Get Temporary Car Insurance?

You can buy temporary car insurance from most major insurers. They will sell you a policy with a six or 12-month term, but you can cancel at any time. This is a surefire way to get temporary car insurance that covers you for one to three months, for example.

Before you buy a policy with the intention of cancelling it, make sure you’re aware of any cancellation fees. Most companies don’t charge a cancellation fee. Those that do charge a nominal fee between $25 to $50, or they charge you a percentage of your remaining premium.

If you’re looking to buy one-day or one-week car insurance, you won't find it from major companies like Allstate, Farmers, Geico, Progressive, State Farm, or USAA. None of them offer this kind of temporary coverage.

For one days or one-week car insurance, you may have to turn to smaller companies. Non-standard car insurance companies often charge higher rates than normal. You may be better off sticking with a major insurer carrier that doesn’t charge cancellation fees and ending your policy when you no longer need coverage.

Look into pay-as-you-go or usage-based car insurance like Metromile. This isn’t temporary coverage but it could provide a similar solution.

How Much Does Temporary Car Insurance Cost?

Temporary car insurance doesn’t cost much if you go with a liability only policy. But your exact rate for short-term car insurance depends on the same factors that determine what you pay for standard car insurance. Some examples are your:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Occupation
  • Where you live
  • Driving record
  • Car make and model

Who Needs Temporary Car Insurance?

Some of the many reasons you might need or want short-term car insurance:

  • You can’t afford to pay for standard car insurance for a full six or 12-month term.
  • You’re going to borrow a car from a friend or family member for more than a day.
  • You need to rent a car for an extended period.
  • You’re planning to buy a car, drive it for a short while, and then sell it.
  • You’re between cars but don’t want to lapse your coverage.

Before you start shopping for a policy, consider this: temporary car insurance may not be your best option. If you’re borrowing a car, the owner’s insurance may cover you. If it doesn’t, you can buy a non-owner car insurance policy. And when renting car, auto insurance from the rental company is worth considering.

How Much Short-Term Auto Insurance Should I Get?

Many people looking for temporary car insurance simply need a cheap short-term policy to maintain their coverage. If that applies to you, consider buying a policy with only liability coverage. You can opt for the state minimum. It’s the cheapest car insurance option.

And most of these policies come with grace periods. That means their coverage is limited during the first month or so. If your plan is to enroll in a policy just for a few days, you may not be able to use its collision or comprehensive coverage in that time.

I Already Have Car Insurance. Will it Cover a Temporary Car?

Yes, it usually will. A lot depends on the coverage types you have, though, and the vehicle you’re planning to use.

For example, if you’re going to drive a rental car for a while, your existing car insurance should cover it. And if you’re going to borrow a car from a friend or family member, their insurance might cover you while you drive it. If it doesn’t, look into non-owner car insurance.

Does Home Insurance Cover a Temporary Car?

No, your home insurance won’t protect you while driving a temporary car. The same is true if you have renters insurance.

The only exception here is your renters or home insurance policies may cover belongings that are stolen from a borrowed or rented car.

Will Non-Owner Liability Insurance Cover a Temporary Car?

It will, but there’s a catch. Like usage-based insurance, non-owner liability insurance isn’t temporary. Most companies make you buy plans that last at least six months.

Something else to keep in mind here: this type of insurance only provides liability coverage, not full coverage. It won’t help you if you damage the temporary car or if it’s stolen.

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