What is temporary car insurance?

What is temporary car insurance?

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If you don’t drive regularly, you may be hesitant to get a car insurance policy when you need to get behind the wheel. Temporary auto insurance seems to be a good solution. There’s only one problem: Major auto insurers generally don’t offer it.

However, you do have options for short-term car insurance, and you are likely to find coverage that suits your situation.

Here’s what you need to know about temporary car insurance:

Can I get temporary car insurance?

The short answer is, not really. Most major insurance companies offer auto insurance policies for only six months or a year. In general, you will not find shorter policies than this. Be careful if you find an offer for daily car insurance online or elsewhere. You may be cheated. Thoroughly examine the insurance company before agreeing to pay them for a short-term auto insurance policy.

In most states, you are legally required to have car insurance to drive. The person who owns the vehicle is usually responsible for maintaining vehicle coverage. If you own or rent a car, that person is you – even if you only plan on driving for a short time. You may be able to buy a six-month insurance policy and then cancel it when you’re done driving.

Good to know: You may face cancellation fees when canceling your insurance policy which will add to your costs.

In other temporary driving situations, certain insurance products and arrangements can help protect you from the financial repercussions of an accident.

If you are looking for a six or 12 month car insurance policy, or are considering putting together car and home insurance, we can help you. Credibility makes it easy to get quotes from multiple insurance companies.

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Temporary auto insurance policies

If you don’t own a car but drive occasionally, you will need some type of insurance when you are behind the wheel. Accidents can be costly, and insurance helps pay for medical bills, lawsuits, and property damage if you cause a collision. Depending on your condition, you have several options for temporarily covering while you’re driving. Here are some common ones:

Car insurance for non-owners

Non-owner car insurance can be a good option if you don’t own or rent a car but drive other cars regularly – such as a car sharing service or rental car.

Non-owner policies usually cover your liability if you cause an accident while driving a vehicle that is not yours. Coverage generally includes both bodily injury to the driver or passengers in the other vehicle, as well as damage to the other vehicle.

Damage to the vehicle you drive is generally not covered under the non-owners policy, nor are any injuries you sustain. This means that if you cause an accident, your insurance will pay the non-owner to repair the other car and cover the medical bills for anyone injured in their car — but not the person you’re driving. However, the car owner’s insurance policy may help with this. Before driving someone else’s car, you should check to be sure.

Non-owner auto policies are generally cheaper than traditional auto insurance, but rates will still depend on factors such as driving history and location.

Good to know: Most major auto insurers offer some type of non-owner insurance, although few advertise it. You may need to contact an insurance agent to obtain a quote.

Car rental insurance

When you rent a car, your car rental company will offer you insurance options. If you already have a car insurance policy, you do not necessarily need one from the rental company. But if you don’t have a policy, you’ll need to buy one. At a minimum, you will need liability coverage that would pay for bodily injury and property damage in an accident you cause. You may decide to purchase additional coverage as well.

By law, the rental company must offer you the minimum required liability coverage for the state in which you live, which will cover bodily injury and property damage if you cause an accident. You may also be able to get other types of coverage, including:

  • damage loss waiver: This is not technically insurance, but instead transfers liability from you to the rental car company if the vehicle is damaged or stolen while in possession.
  • Personal Accident Insurance: This covers the medical bills for you and any passenger if you are injured in an accident.
  • Personal baggage coverage: This covers theft of any property you have in your rental car.
  • Supplementary Liability Insurance: In many cases, the minimum state-mandated liability coverage is not sufficient. You may be able to purchase a higher coverage limit through the car rental company.
  • Roadside Assistance Protection: If your rental car breaks down, you run out of fuel, or you lose your keys, this insurance pays for a tow truck or other help you need to get back on the road.

Learn more: Car Rental Liability Insurance: Do You Really Need It?

Student drivers cover

Auto insurance companies usually have special programs for college students. If you regularly drive your own car while at school, you will need full insurance coverage. If your name is written on the title of the car you’re driving, you’ll also likely need to purchase your own.

But even if you only drive while you’re home for breaks, you still need insurance coverage. Many auto insurance providers offer a “student away from home” discount as part of a standard car insurance policy. This usually applies to young drivers as per the parental policy. Your father will include you as a driver on his insurance, but specify that you are a student who lives away from home and is not available to drive regularly. There may be age limits (22 or 25) and you may need to go to school a certain distance away, such as 100 miles or more.

International car insurance

If you have a US auto insurance policy, it will likely cover you if you are driving to Canada. But if you’re driving to Mexico, or want to drive in another country, you’ll need to get a private insurance policy. This is one of the rare exceptions to the six-month rule: major insurers will offer temporary insurance policies for travelers to Mexico or abroad.

Designated drivers

Most auto insurance policies allow for what is known as permissive use, which means you are more likely to be covered if you borrow someone’s car with their permission. However, if you plan to use someone’s car regularly, they may need to add you as a named driver in their policy. This officially extends coverage to you when you drive.

Although you don’t need to be a named driver to borrow someone’s car to run to the store, you’ll need to be added to the policy if you’ll be driving regularly. If you’re a nanny or babysitter for a particular family, for example, they may want to add you to their policy.

paying off: Can I insure a car that is not in my name?

What is usage-based car insurance?

If you are a rare driver, you can also consider use-based car insurance. With usage-based insurance, proprietary technology collects information while you drive to determine how much you drive and how safe the driver is. The insurance companies that offer these policies usually charge you based on the number of miles you drive or your driving habits. If you don’t drive often, you may be able to save a significant amount of money when compared to a traditional auto insurance policy.

Some insurance companies, such as Nationwide, have a pay-per-mile program with a base rate and a rate-per-mile rate. If your monthly mileage is low, you may be able to save on your car insurance premium.

Good to know: While most traditional auto insurance companies offer these policies, specialist insurance companies like Root and Noblr have similar options. These providers use smartphone apps to track your mileage and monitor your driving. You may qualify for discounts if you are a safe driver, brake and accelerate smoothly, and avoid texting while driving.

What to do if you need temporary car insurance

If you have had car insurance in the past, the best way to start is to talk to the insurance company about your condition. They can advise you on the best way to get the coverage you need.

Next, the next step is to discuss the situation with the person who owns the vehicle you will be driving.

If you own the car

If it’s your car, you’ll likely need a traditional auto insurance policy. Be sure to shop and get quotes from several insurance companies before committing. Many insurance companies also offer discounts if you pool insurance policies, which means you have multiple insurance policies with one provider. If you have home insurance or a renters insurance policy, for example, you may get a discount if you add a car insurance policy with the same carrier.

Most car rental companies also require you to carry insurance before you can drive. If you know your needs are temporary, find out about any cancellation fees for the policy you’re considering purchasing.

If you don’t own the car

If you do not own the car, the next steps will depend on your particular situation. If you’re borrowing a friend’s car one time or for a weekend getaway, you’re probably safe. Check with the vehicle owner to make sure their policy allows for permitted use. If this happens, you should be covered in an accident. If you have been driving a car regularly for a month or more, you can be added as a named driver.

If you participate in a car-sharing service, the company will usually provide insurance as part of the membership fee. You may be able to purchase additional coverage as well. You can also consider non-owner auto insurance to help fill in any gaps.

Read on: How long after a car accident can you file a claim?

Frequently asked questions about temporary car insurance

Here are answers to some common questions about temporary auto insurance.

Is it possible to get daily, weekly or monthly insurance?

generally not. Major insurers usually offer policies for six months or longer. You may be able to purchase a traditional policy and cancel it while driving, although cancellation fees may apply.

You can also obtain short-term insurance for a rental car through the car rental company, or purchase a short-term insurance policy while on vacation abroad.

Do I need temporary insurance to borrow a friend or family member’s car?

No, you do not need temporary insurance to borrow a car. The owner’s car insurance policy will likely cover you while you are borrowing the car.

If you drive regularly, you can ask the owner to add you as a driver in their policy. This may increase the cost of their insurance, so you should keep this in mind. You can also consider non-owner’s insurance if you regularly borrow cars.

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Disclaimer: All insurance related services are provided by Young Alfred.

About the author

Andrew Dunn

Andrew Dunn is an award-winning home finance and mortgage writer with a decade of experience covering the industry with articles published in Fox Business, LendingTree, Credit Karma, Axios Charlotte, and more.

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