In most states, operating any form of motor vehicle without insurance is illegal. Driving without insurance can result in fines, a suspended license or even jail time if you’re caught, not to mention expensive medical bills and repair bills in the event that you’re involved in an accident or injure another driver or a pedestrian.
This is a problem that’s usually corrected very easily — the best car insurance providers can get you covered in as little as a few hours. But what if you won’t be driving for the duration of the twelve-month policy offered by most insurers? Do you really need to commit to paying a year’s worth of premiums to stay on the road legally for just a few days or weeks?
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Quicklook: Best Temporary Car Insurance
- American Collectors Insurance – Get a quote
- Geico –Get a quote
- Nationwide – Get a quote
- Progressive – Get a quote
Temporary car insurance is an affordable and flexible option for drivers who don’t need a full year’s worth of coverage. Many major auto insurance providers offer temporary coverage ranging from a few days to a few weeks, and some insurers even offer one-day insurance for special circumstances or emergencies. If you’re considering signing up for temporary car insurance, make sure to read our guide so you choose the right provider.
What is Temporary Car Insurance?
As its name suggests, temporary car insurance is a car insurance policy that covers you for only a short period of time, usually between two and 28 days. Temporary car insurance policies are almost always used by drivers who drive a car that they do not own except under a few exceptions.
Like standard long-term car insurance, temporary car insurance comes with two costs: a premium paid out either by the day or by the week that maintains your coverage and a deductible that you must first pay in the event that you’re involved in an accident before your insurance benefits “kick in.” Premiums, deductibles and coverage options vary depending on your policy and the company that you choose, so make sure you thoroughly read your insurance policy before you sign so you know exactly what’s covered and what isn’t.
Who Needs Temporary Car Insurance?
Anyone who rents a car. If you have a driver’s license but you don’t own a car, you will likely need to purchase temporary car insurance for the time that you’re renting the vehicle. Even if you own a car and you maintain coverage, your car insurance policy may have a caveat stating that your coverage does not apply to rental vehicles. Most rental companies offer temporary insurance packages when you sign for the car.
Drivers between vehicles. If you don’t own a car but you’re currently shopping for one, temporary car insurance can fill in the gaps until you’re able to transfer your title and sign onto a new policy.
Classic car enthusiasts. Want to take your gorgeous ’67 Camaro out for a spin on the weekend or to a one-day car show? Temporary car insurance can protect you and your car on the road and save you money for the rest of the year.
Anyone who drives during an emergency. Need to borrow a car from someone outside of your family in the event of an emergency? Most temporary car insurance providers offer one-day policies that will keep you covered when you drive someone else’s vehicle.
Who Shouldn’t Use Temporary Car Insurance?
Drivers who own a car and drive it regularly
Strings of temporary policies are not intended to act as replacements for permanent car insurance. If you haven’t “settled down” with a car insurance provider for the long term, you’re probably vastly overpaying for your premium and you’re missing out on discounts like home and auto insurance bundling and returning customer benefits.
If you’d like to get long-term car insurance but you’re short on cash, check out our list of the best cheap car insurance providers.
Students who go away to college
Many college students who drove in high school do not bring their vehicles along with them when they head off to pursue higher education. Cars get left at home for a wide variety of reasons: the school may have a policy that limits vehicle spaces to upperclassmen only, the vehicle might be shared between family members who need it at home more than the student needs it at school, or the cost of driving the car to and from college might outweigh the benefits. Buying your student temporary car insurance valid only for the times when he or she will be home to use the car makes perfect sense — right?
As a concept, this theory works — why should you pay for a year’s worth of insurance if your student only uses his car for a few months during the summer and on breaks? However, most car insurance providers offer a hearty premium discount to long-time drivers. This is because new drivers pose an increased risk to insurers.
When you remove a student driver from your policy and add them back on with temporary insurance, your insurance company will probably consider them a “new” driver, offsetting anything you’ve saved throughout the year with a premium increase. Instead of choosing short-term car insurance, consider dropping your student’s coverage down to the bare bones required by law, then upping your student’s coverage when he or she returns home.
Lower levels of coverage almost always mean a lower deductible and your student driver will still technically remain on your policy, netting you the returning client discount.
Immediate family members who borrow your car
Many car insurance policies have a clause that states that immediate family members who live under your roof (including spouses and children who have their licenses) can borrow your car and be covered by your insurance in short-term circumstances.
This coverage may be automatic, or you may need to add licensed drivers in your household to your list of “named insured” drivers under your policy. You may also need to give the insurance company advanced notice as to when and where your family member will be using your vehicle. These policies vary between insurance providers, so never assume that your policy has this coverage — instead, call up your insurance agent and ask first.
The Best Temporary Car Insurance Providers
1. American Collectors Insurance
If you need to insure a classic or collector’s car or an antique vehicle, it can be reassuring to know that you’re working with an insurance company that differentiates its temporary policy options between standard vehicles and collectibles.
American Collectors Insurance is the go-to option for classic car insurance because it only provides insurance for this type of vehicle it employs a team of repair and evaluation experts. Its online quote tool is easy to use and can be completed in about a minute.
If you have multiple cars to protect, you can also quickly add multiple vehicles to your quote with the click of a button. The company also offers discounts for USAA members, and its site has tons of information on what makes classic car care and insurance unique.
As educational as it is affordable, insurance policies from American Collectors are tailor-made for classic car enthusiasts.
One of the most well-known insurance providers in the United States, Geico’s insurance options are comprehensive. Policies include online claims assistance, responsive customer service and emergency roadside assistance add-ons, which can be useful if you’re heading out on a road trip but have doubts about whether or not your vehicle will be able to make the entire journey.
Geico also offers a massive range of discounts for coverage, including student driver discounts, discounts for military members and their families and discounts for senior drivers as well.
If you already have car insurance but you’re worried about gaps in your coverage that can leave you liable while renting a vehicle, Geico also offers affordable supplemental insurance plans specifically for rental car coverage. Geico also offers 24/7 claims and customer assistance — so no matter what time or day or night you need to rent a vehicle, an associate will be able to assist you in figuring out exactly what type of coverage you have and what you need.
If you need insurance fast, Nationwide is a great choice. Its online estimate tool can be completed in as little as a few minutes and you may purchase your policy right away as well. Nationwide’s insurance policies also cover everything that you’d need when purchasing a policy from competitors, including comprehensive and liability coverage options.
If you’re a classic car owner, Nationwide also offers unique classic and collector car policies that include lower rates, flexible usage and even guaranteed value coverage, which insures the value of the car at the time of purchase regardless of depreciation rates. Nationwide’s classic car insurance also covers access to the team at Hagerty Valuation, one of the top classic car appraisal and valuation services. Have a particular repair shop you like?
No worries — Nationwide’s insurance doesn’t dictate a particular shop or mechanic that you need to take your car to in the event of an accident, so you won’t have to worry about inexperienced repair professionals messing up your new tune-up.
Progressive Insurance may seem like your standard car insurance policy provider on the outset but the company offers an impressive range of discounts that can decrease your premium.
Progressive offers discounts for almost anything that you can think of, including great driving records, high school and college students who get at least a “B” average in all of their classes, drivers who get their quote online and drivers who pay their premium in bulk if they’re signing up for multiple months of insurance. In fact, Progressive claims that 99% of drivers get some form of a discount when they sign up for insurance — and with the very wide range of discounts offered, we believe it.
If you’re involved in an accident, claim reports with Progressive are quick and simple. Progressive’s Photo Estimate tool allows you to take snapshots of your damage with your smartphone and quickly upload them to a claims specialist. You can also easily track the status of your claim online, which can help ease stress in the immediate aftermath of a collision.
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Your Next Steps
If you already have a vehicle and you’re concerned about lapses in your policy’s coverage, contact your agent of choice before you seek out independent short-term auto insurance. You may already have more coverage than you initially believed, or you might be able to up your coverage for less money than you would have spent purchasing an outside policy.
If you don’t currently own a vehicle but you do have homeowners insurance, life insurance or a comprehensive umbrella policy, contact your current insurance provider and inquire about your short-term insurance options. Some major insurers offer temporary car insurance and you’ll often also be able to take advantage of a bundling or loyalty discount even if your coverage will only last a few days.