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 rental car

Most major insurers offer policies that are in effect for at least six months or a year. But what if you only need coverage for one or two months? It’s an unusual situation, but there may be times you need a short-term policy. Your first thought might be a temporary car insurance plan.

Unfortunately, providers don’t offer limited-duration or short-term coverage. They won’t write a policy with an effective period of less than six months. However, even though temporary insurance policies don’t technically exist, there are several options.

Short-Term Coverage Options

First, there is no such thing as a temporary insurance policy. No provider offers specific short-term coverage. Some companies may claim this is possible, but it really isn’t an option. We’ll say it again: no reputable insurer offers policies that last for less than six months.

But you can still purchase coverage for a brief 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 for car insurance if you don’t plan on doing much driving.

These are some common ways you can get auto insurance for temporary use:

Non-Owner Coverage

Another option is a non-owner policy. This provides basic liability insurance 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 pay for 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 auto insurance 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 temporary insurance, because you’ll get some from the rental company. But short-term protection is typically more expensive than a standard policy. A key benefit of rental car coverage is its low deductible. This means you won’t pay much out of pocket if you get into an accident.

More Temporary Coverage Options

Below is a list of your best bets for acquiring some form of temporary car insurance coverage:

  • 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 Coverage?

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 some sort of ad hoc auto insurance coverage:

College Students

College students may need auto insurance on a provisional basis at 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.

Foreign Visitors

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

People Borrowing a Car

There could be several reasons why you need to borrow a car. Maybe yours broke down and you’re getting help from a friend. Or maybe you just got a job and don’t have a way to get to work. Whatever the reason, you’ll need insurance while you’re behind the wheel. You don’t want to be caught without any if you crash a borrowed vehicle. Consider impermanent 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 auto 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 insurance 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 car 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 of timer without auto insurance. This will raise your rates when you do decide to drive again. Consider getting a non-owner policy, even if you don’t drive a lot. This could save money in the future and help keep you covered.

You can get short-term forms of auto insurance from many of the leading providers, 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 short term coverage depends on many factors. It’s even harder to nail down rates because providers don’t offer a temporary car insurance product. It’s going to be a regular policy that you decide to cancel. The price depends on which protections you add to your policy, how high you set the limits, the fees when you cancel, your driving history, and more.

Auto insurance carriers pick your rates based on factors like:

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

Is there such a thing as temporary car insurance?

No, temporary coverage isn’t offered by any auto insurance provider. People may claim to sell short-term policies, but you can’t get it from any major or reputable company. Instead, there are strategies you can employ to acquire provisional protection, 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

Can I get coverage for my car for as short as a week or just one month?

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 provider’s cancellation policies so you know what to expect.

Does short-term coverage cost more than other policies?

This depends on several factors, including the coverages you buy, your risk factors, location, and a lot more. Using insurance on a temporary basis could end up being more expensive due to cancellation fees and special types like non-owner. On the other hand, you may be able to find a policy that’s cheap enough that to satisfy your needs. 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.

Is it an insurance policy a contract? Can I cancel any time I want?

You can keep your car insurance coverage 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. Many drivers seek better a better deal and switch to a new provider as soon as they find one.

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 coverage 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. But if you really need temporary auto insurance and are willing to do the work, this is an option.


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