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Temporary Car Insurance: Do I Need It?

The auto insurance sector, like many service industries, are adept at meeting the unique needs of drivers.

So it goes, with temporary vehicle insurance, which provides exactly what it says – temporary auto insurance from an hour or two at a time up to a few weeks at a time.

“Temporary car insurance refers to short-term car insurance that covers you for driving someone else’s car ranging from one hour to 28-to-30-days, although some policies may stretch out to 90 days,” said Nick Schrader, an insurance agent with Texas General Insurance.“ Temporary auto insurance is geared to uninsured drivers who are temporarily renting or borrowing a car. It is generally intended for
personal driving, and not for commercial use by policy holders.”

Most major insurance companies don’t offer temporary auto insurance, as traditional policies generally start at six months and may stretch out to a year at a time. In general, major auto insurers don’t offer temporary car insurance as the policy underwriting risk over a four-week period, for example, usually cancels any advantages in selling short-term auto insurance policies.

That’s why it’s always important for consumers to thoroughly vet any company that offers temporary auto insurance. While many insurers are above board, short-term auto insurance consumers may find some companies that are not very reputable and who are likely to charge high fees and deliver shoddy customer service.

Why Would I Need Temporary Car Insurance?

Why would a driver need temporary auto insurance? Actually, short-term vehicle coverage comes in handy for myriad reasons.


“For example, if you’re renting a car for a short period of time, you may not want to purchase an annual policy that would cover the entire rental period,” said Linda Chavez, founder at California-based Seniors Life Insurance Finder. “Or, if you’re borrowing a car from a friend, you may only need coverage for the time that you are actually driving the vehicle.”

Another reason why temporary auto insurance may be needed is when you take a trip or vacation where some driving is necessary.

“In this instance, you likely only need coverage for the days that you will be driving,” Chavez said.
“Finally, if you need classic car insurance or other valuable vehicle type policies, you may only drive it on occasion and may not want to pay for an annual policy that would cover the entire year.”

How Much Does Short Term Auto Insurance Cost?

Besides convenience, there are a few additional benefits of temporary car insurance. “First, it
can be much cheaper than an annual auto policy, at about $100-to-$200 or so for a policy,” Chavez said. “That’s because you are only paying for the time that you need coverage, rather than the entire year.”

Another benefit is that temporary insurance is usually easier to obtain than an annual auto insurance policy.

“With temporary car insurance, most insurers won’t require a credit check or other lengthy application process,” Chavez said. “Additionally, you can often get temporary car insurance with just a few clicks of a button online.”

Temporary car insurance may also provide what auto insurance consumers seek most – peace of mind.

“If you’re involved in an accident, you won’t have to worry about paying for another drivers’ repairs or medical bills out of your own pocket” Chavez added. “Additionally, if your car is stolen or vandalized, you won’t have to pay for a replacement vehicle.”

Making Temporary Auto Insurance Work for You

Structurally, short-term auto insurance is a condensed version of car insurance coverage.

While temporary insurance offers basic liability coverage, which pays out for any damage to other vehicles or property caused by your vehicle, it does not cover any injuries suffered by the short-term insurance policy holder and it doesn’t cover any damage to the policy holder’s own vehicle.

“Temporary car insurance covers the other party’s injuries and property damage costs if you cause an accident,” said Aliza Vigderman, director of content at AutoInsurance.com. “These coverages, bodily injury and property damage coverage, make up liability coverage.”

“However, temporary car insurance leaves out collision and comprehensive coverage, which cover your vehicle’s damages, as well as uninsured motorist coverage and medical payments coverage, which covers you and your passengers’ injuries,” Vigderman noted.

The good news is that temporary auto insurance can work as an “on-demand” auto insurance model.

“With temporary auto insurance, you can take out a policy quickly with fewer questions,” Schrader said. “Coverage can either start immediately or when you need it. Additionally, the relatively short range of time coverage helps temporary car insurance to be cheaper than any other policy.”

Short-Term Auto Insurance: Tips for Drivers

There are multiple ways to get the best temporary auto insurance policy.

“Comparison shopping is the best way to identify which provider offers the quality policies,” Schrader said. “Just choose the amount of coverage you need and then identify your needs. Some insurance companies charge a fee for cancellation, while some will cancel immediately.”

Also, be sure to read the terms and conditions of each policy carefully before signing on the dotted line.

“This way, you’ll know exactly what is and is not covered under the policy,” Chavez said. “Finally, be sure to ask your insurer any questions you have about the policy before you purchase it. By doing so you
can be sure that you are getting the coverage you need at a price you can afford.”

Drivers seeking short-term coverage may want to opt for auto rental insurance, which can be a better option that many reputable companies offer.

“If your existing car insurance covers your rental car, that’s a better option than
getting a separate, temporary policy,” Vigderman said. “Other preferable options include
permissive use on someone else’s policy, non-owner insurance, or pay-per-mile insurance.”

Your best move with temporary auto insurance? Work with a local and trusted insurance agent, and get multiple quotes for temporary insurance coverage. Working with someone who can deliver the exact short-term auto coverage you need can give you the best of both worlds – a good temporary auto insurance policy at a good price along with the peace of mind that comes with solid auto insurance coverage.