Is There Temporary Car Insurance?

Temporary car insurance policies don't technically exist. But there are strategies to get short-term coverage. Learn more here.
woman in short-term rental car

Most major insurers sell policies that last for at least six months or a year. But what if you only need auto insurance for a short time? Your first thought might be a temporary plan.

Insurers don’t offer temporary car insurance for short-term coverage, however. And providers won’t sell policies under six months. Though you can’t go out and buy temporary policies, there are other options out there.

Car Insurance For Short-Term Use

First, there is no such thing as a temporary policy. No insurer offers specific short-term auto insurance that you can add to your policy. Some companies may claim to sell temporary policies, but it really doesn’t exist. No reputable insurers sell policies that last for less than six months.

But you can still purchase coverage for a short period if you get creative. For instance, a common strategy is to buy a six-month policy and cancel after you’re done with it. You might also consider a pay-per-mile policy if you don’t plan on doing much driving.

These are some common ways to get short-term coverage:

Non-Owner Auto Insurance

Another option is a non-owner policy. This provides liability coverage for those who don’t own a car or don’t drive all that much. It covers bodily injury and property damage to other drivers or vehicles. However, it won’t cover any injuries or damages to your car if it gets into an accident. You can borrow someone’s car once or twice and still have coverage. But non-owner may be a better choice if you drive more than that.

Get Added to Another Policy

You could also ask someone to add you to their policy. That’s the easiest way to ensure coverage without the stress of signing a six-month deal. Joining someone else’s policy is good for new drivers or those who don’t need a long-term commitment.

Rent a Car

Renting a car is another good idea for short-term auto insurance. You’ll get some coverage from the rental company. But it’s typically more expensive than standard insurance. A key benefit of rental coverage is its low deductible. This means you won’t pay much out of pocket if you get into an accident.

Below is a quick list of temporary auto coverage options:

  • Buy a standard six-month plan and cancel
  • A pay-per-mile policy
  • Short-term non-owner policy
  • Ask someone to add you to their existing policy
  • Rental car coverage

Who Needs Temporary Car Insurance?

Most people don’t need auto insurance temporarily. But there are plenty of situations where it’s helpful. Short-term coverage is great for anyone who wants to drive for a short time without a standard policy. Here are some examples of people who may need temporary coverage:

College Students

College students may need temporary coverage for limited times such as winter, spring, or summer breaks. Parents can add their college-aged kids to their policy and ensure they have coverage when they’re at home. Making college your primary residence also qualifies you for the student away at school discount.

Foreign Visitors

Visitors coming into the US for a short time who want to drive may need temporary insurance. They can explore options such as rental coverage or a non-owner policy if they’re using someone else’s car.

People Borrowing a Car

There could be several reasons why you need to borrow a car. Maybe your car broke down and you’re getting help from a friend. Or maybe you just got a job and you don’t have a car yet. Whatever the reason, you’ll need insurance while you’re behind the wheel. You don’t want to be caught without coverage if you crash a borrowed vehicle. Consider short-term options such as non-owner coverage or ask someone to add you to their policy.

You may also ask the person whose car you’re borrowing if their insurance has a permissive use clause. This grants coverage to people not included in an auto policy. Though permissive use is common, not every policy includes it. So, it’s worth checking with their provider to see if they have it.

People Renting a Car

You can usually get protection from rental car companies when you rent but don’t have insurance. It’ll be more expensive than what you get from major auto insurers. But it comes with a low deductible and coverage while you’re on the road.

People With a Car They Rarely Use

You may need short-term coverage if you have a car that you mainly keep in the garage. For example, you might only drive during warm months with your convertible. Or you’re retired and only need to drive on specific occasions. In these cases, you could get a pay-per-mile policy, which could save you from higher rates on regular policies.

How to Get a Short-Term Policy

The most common way to get temporary auto insurance is to buy a standard six- or 12-month policy from a provider and cancel partway through. This method of getting short-term coverage is best for those who want their own policy, with the closest resemblance to what you’d buy for the long term.

Let’s say, for example, you only need coverage for a month. You could get a regular six-month policy and choose to make monthly payments. Once the first month ends, you could cancel the policy and should receive a refund for the rest of your premium. Keep in mind that there could be fees for canceling your policy early. Be sure to check with your provider and give plenty of notice before canceling.

Cancel with Care

Be careful when canceling your insurance early, however. You still need it to drive legally. In most states, you could get expensive tickets and points on your record, lose your license, or even go to jail if you’re caught without auto coverage. Violations from driving without it will raise your rates and make you a high-risk driver.

Avoid Coverage Lapses

You also want to avoid a lapse in coverage, which is when you go through a period without car insurance. This will raise your rates when you do decide to drive again and buy a policy. Consider getting non-owner insurance, even if you don’t drive a lot. This could save money in the future and help keep you covered.

You can get temporary forms of auto coverage from many of the leading insurers, including Progressive, Allstate, and State Farm. Remember that there is no one temporary policy you can buy, but just different methods you can use to get coverage for a short time.

How Much Will it Cost Me?

The cost of a short term car insurance policy depends on many factors. It’s even harder to nail down rates because you can’t buy temporary coverage. It’s going to be a regular policy that you decide to cancel. The price depends on which type of coverage you buy, how high you set the limits, the fees when you cancel, your driving history, and more. Auto insurers pick your rates based on factors like:

  • Your driving record
  • Your age
  • Vehicle make and model
  • Where you live
  • Your car’s mileage
  • Your risk as a driver

It’s always a good idea to shop around and check out each insurer’s prices to make sure you’re getting the best deal on your coverage. You might have to look at several providers before you find the right one.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is there such a thing as temporary car insurance?

A: Temporary car insurance doesn’t exist as something you can add to your policy. People may claim to sell short-term coverage, but you can’t get it from any major or reputable insurer. Instead, you can do other things to temporarily get protection behind the wheel, such as:

  • Buying a standard policy and canceling when you no longer need it
  • Having someone add you to their policy
  • Buying non-owner coverage

Q: Can I get insurance for my car for as short as a week or just one month?

A: Yes, you can get auto insurance for a week or a month by buying a standard policy and canceling it early. In most cases, you should be eligible for a refund on the rest of your premium. You could also avoid cancellation fees if you give a lot of notice to your provider. Be sure to check with your insurer on their cancellation policies so you know what to expect.

Q: Does short-term insurance cost more than other policies?

A: This depends on several factors, including the coverage you buy, your risk factors, location, and a lot more. Short-term or temporary coverage could end up being more expensive than a regular policy due to fees and special types like non-owner. On the other hand, you may be able to find a cheap temporary policy. But it’s going to take a lot of your time to find and sign up for one, only to cancel a short time later.

Q: How long do I have to keep car insurance? Is it a contract? Can I cancel any time I want?

A: You can keep your insurance policy for as long as you like. And you can cancel a policy at any time. It’s not a contract. You’re not obligated to remain with an insurer or keep a policy you don’t want or need.

Just because your policy term is 6 or 12 months doesn’t mean you must finish it. So, you can take the time and effort to establish an auto insurance policy only to cancel it after a week or month. But that’s a lot of work on everyone’s part, yours, the agent, and anyone else involved with setting up a new customer’s policy.

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