Is Temporary Car Insurance Legit? Here’s Your Options for Short-Term Coverage


What are your options for temporary car insurance?

What Is Temporary Car Insurance?

Temporary or short-term car insurance gives legally required coverage when, for example, you rent a car, borrow someone’s vehicle, or drive only occasionally. 

Unfortunately, most insurance companies won’t extend a policy shorter than six months. But, to protect yourself from legal consequences or repair and accident-related expenses, many different kinds of drivers have options other than the standard, six-month minimum term.

You might see policies advertising car insurance for just two days or up to one month. A company might advertise temporary car insurance with basic liability protection and benefits after an accident causing property damage, physical injury, or totaled vehicles. Even if you trust such a company, basic liability policies don’t cover your own damages, injuries, and other costs. 

Other ways of getting coverage include fuller benefits that satisfy your state law’s requirements without gambling with your money, as we’ll explain below. 

When driving someone else’s car, renting a vehicle, or traveling out of state, temporary car insurance aims to provide essential coverage in situations that traditional policies may exclude. If the driving event doesn’t fit an insurer’s terms or the driver is uninsured, being behind the wheel risks huge legal pains and great financial responsibility when the unexpected happens. 

The chance of an accident and the cost of medical bills, legal fees, necessary repairs, and more make exploring short-term car insurance smart. Learn how limited car insurance can meet your needs, and get cheap quotes with Compare.com.

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Who Might Need Temporary Car Insurance?

No matter how safe you drive while behind the wheel, it’s always a good idea to minimize the serious price you could pay when caught by surprise without coverage. If you’re using car-sharing services, borrowing a car, or buying one for the first time, temporary car insurance can seem attractive. 

Drivers with lapsed insurance might also want short-term car insurance to avoid medical expenses, property damage, and legal consequences in case they get into an accident. 

Even those who store their car most of the year and don’t drive frequently check out policy options for rare occasions. You might also try to get temporary car coverage as a student who drives the family car only during semester breaks.

  • Car-sharing drivers
  • Borrowed-car drivers
  • First-time drivers
  • Student drivers
  • Non-owner drivers
  • Lapsed-coverage drivers

These driving situations make short-term car insurance seem like an attractive option. But, since trustworthy insurance companies don’t extend car insurance policies by the day, most drivers won’t benefit from temporary car insurance. 

Does Temporary Car Insurance Exist?

Major car insurance companies do not sell policies shorter than six months. You can pay for their policies month to month, but you shouldn’t place trust in daily or one-month car insurance promotions to fulfill your legal duty as a driver or cover possible expenses.

Why You Should Beware Companies Offering Temporary Car Insurance

It certainly looks like temporary car insurance is widely available based on targeted ads and attractive websites. In truth, these lures usually redirect you to car insurance offers for six-month policies. 

And when they don’t, it’s a red flag. These offers are likely not from a company guaranteed to pay out benefits when you need them most. 

Major insurance companies won’t give coverage by the day, week, or month for many reasons. Mostly, it’s a great risk. They would receive very little for the possibility of paying out thousands of dollars during accident claims. It simply doesn’t make financial sense for trusted insurers to give you short-term coverage.

You might wonder why a smaller or hardly-known insurance company is willing to risk paying you $10,000 per injured person, for example, if you get into an accident on a three-day policy. If they pay anything, it likely won’t qualify as legally satisfying insurance.

What are Your Options for Short-Term Coverage?

Since insurance companies sell car coverage in six-month or one-year terms, a temporary solution might require you to simply cancel the policy before the full period. In these situations, the insurer will often refund premiums you may have already paid for (but some charge a fee to close coverage early). 

But, since this can disrupt your continuous insurance history and increase premiums, there are simpler, more beneficial options if you’re a student or when you’re borrowing, renting, and storing a car (or even if you’re just trying to fit a car insurance policy into a limited budget).

Student Away at School Coverage

If your car insurance policy includes your child, you can keep them on the policy even while they’re at school, driving occasionally, or riding as a passenger. Your policy will cover them whenever they need to drive and provide extra benefits to them as a driver or passenger after an accident. This will help them build positive coverage history and potentially even earn you a student discount on the policy.

If your student doesn’t have a car or they drive a friend’s while they’re away, you might think you’ll save a few dollars by taking them off the policy entirely. If it’s possible that they’ll drive at all, it may not be worth the risk to take them off entirely. 

Plus, they may also want to drive the family car when they return on scheduled semester breaks, and you don’t want to have to call your agent to add and remove a driver multiple times a semester, right?

The best, temporary option is to suspend their coverage to include them while at home and exclude them while at school. This will work if you know they won’t be driving while at school. 

Temporarily Adding a Driver to Your Policy

Friends and family may ask to borrow your car for a small, one-time need, and wanting to temporarily add them to your policy makes sense. Most of the time, car insurance companies predict this and include coverage for your car in the rare case that someone else drives it. 

If someone will drive your car more often—like once or twice per week—you can add them to your policy temporarily by calling the insurer and giving them the driver’s personal information. For that, you’ll need an idea of their driving history (tickets, accidents, etc.), license information, social security number, current job, and birthdate.

Then, whenever they stop using the car, you can simply take them off the policy, since adding them adjusts your premiums while covering them while they drive your car.

Rental Car Coverage

On a vacation or road trip, considering temporary car insurance for a rental car seems like smart planning. The rental company will offer their own coverage for the length of your rental, but your current car insurance policy may already offer you benefits while driving the rental car. 

Unless you are renting the car for business, check with your traditional, long-term policy for information about when you are covered when behind the wheel of a rental. 

Car Storage Insurance

Some drivers store their cars for long periods of time, bringing them out for a rare errand or to show their antique build. These drivers often feel that temporary car insurance would meet their needs, since they risk the road very rarely. But, even during storage, cars could suffer damage, get stolen, or end up needing maintenance. 

More than this, drivers may need to surrender the plates of the car and unregister it if their state requires maintaining insurance with a liability coverage minimum.

In these situations, car storage insurance (which often costs just a few bucks a month) is the way to go.

Affordable Alternatives to Temporary Car Insurance

Since temporary car coverage isn’t offered by major insurance companies, payment plans, usage limits, and non-owner coverage can make car insurance affordable. While each premium is unique to the company, to the driver, and to the car, making smart choices about which car insurance policy you choose can lower rates a great deal and help you find a car insurance policy that fits in your budget. 

Payment Plans for Long-Term Coverage

Based on how you pay for your policy, you could qualify for discounts. These payment options and plans typically reduce premiums:

  • Annual premiums
  • Automatic payments
  • Electronic transfers
  • Paperless billing

Most companies cut rates most for drivers who pay annually, but drivers forget that automatic payments will give you a discount too. If you pay by transfer from your checking or savings account, you’ll make long-term car insurance even more affordable by avoiding fees as well. You might also save simply by accepting paperless statements. 

And if you can’t afford to pay it all down at once, most car insurance companies will offer monthly payment plans. It may end up costing you a little more in the long run, but being able to split the 6 or 12-month premium into monthly payments could help fit a policy into your current budget.

Usage-based & Pay-per-mile Car Insurance

Car insurance companies usually decide premiums depending on how much they believe you will drive based on your profile and driving record. With usage-based and pay-per-mile car insurance, they set your premium on how much they know you will drive. 

This certainty brings in discounts on premiums when you drive safely and stay under certain limits each year.

With low mileage, premiums stay low while still giving you all the financial benefits you need to feel secure and fulfill state responsibilities

Insurance companies calculate your premium for the policy term according to how many miles you report through an app on your phone or device on your car. If you drive less often over a given period, you could save even more. 

Non-owner Car Insurance

If you often drive cars you don’t own, non-owner car coverage includes injury and property damage liability and can help you meet your state’s legal requirements. And, no matter the car you happen to drive, the financial protections and insurance benefits will follow. 

Your policy will complement the owner’s coverage to reel in costs for damage or injury that exceed their limits. When you need policy benefits, the insurance company won’t require a deductible before coverage pays out. 

Non-owner coverage helps people afford essential car insurance with rates that can be 15%  lower than traditional policies. Unlike temporary policies, most major car insurance companies offer non-owner policies. See cheap non-owner car insurance rates through Compare.com.

How to Get the Cheapest Long-Term Policy

Temporary car insurance attracts people who want to save money by not paying for coverage their car doesn’t need or that they’ll never use. Since trusted insurers can’t really benefit from these short-term policies, they offer ways all kinds of drivers can get essential car insurance that fits their individual budgets.  

If Possible, Pay in Full

When you pay in full for the entire term of your car insurance—even a six-month term—many big insurers will reduce your bill overall. The certainty of earning their premiums all at once also comes with the guarantee that your policy won’t lapse from non-payment. And, your lump-sum payment won’t have to carry the monthly processing charges that you and the insurer pay on each transaction.

Take Advantage of All Discounts

While you use payment and billing options to your advantage, look into all car insurance discounts before signing off on a policy, because you could save even more. 

Many drivers are surprised by the reduced rates they can get through their job, in their state, as a good driver, or with their vehicle model. 

Though many companies cap their discounts at a certain percentage, explore each and every possible discount:

  • Driving record. Better drivers file fewer insurance claims. Insurance companies give discounts for drivers who stay incident-free over a long period of time. Some of these companies give discounts up to 40%. 
  • Driver’s education. Since driving courses can remove tickets and negative marks from your driving record, they help reduce rates. Many states also require discounts on car insurance for those who complete defensive driving classes.
  • Bundled policies. If you have more than one kind of insurance with the same company, they can give you a “multi-policy” insurance discount. With home and car insurance, this can take as much as 25% off your premiums. 
  • Student status. If there’s a student in the household, insurers offer reduced rates, and, if they perform well in school, good student discounts can reach 25%.
  • Multiple cars. With a multi-car policy, you usually reduce the usual rate with up to a 25% break.
  • Model types. Cars that have great safety ratings, anti-theft features, and lower collision rates get cheaper premiums. New cars also receive discounts of up to 15% when they are less than three years old and qualify.

Compare Quotes from Multiple Car Insurance Companies

If you want to save money on car insurance, you have to shop around. Each insurer gives a different quote, even though they look at many of the same factors to decide premiums

They use their own reasoning, statistics, and calculations to make these decisions, so the outcome is unique. Their math is hidden, but we know drivers see vastly different rates from company to company.

Some prioritize your record over your car. Others weigh your age over your gender. Alternative or “non-standard” insurers might even drop a few factors like education and occupation. The only way to know what the top insurance companies can offer is to compare low car insurance rates.

Find a policy that fits your budget in minutes!

Bottom Line: What’s Your Best Option for Affordable, Short-Term Coverage?

All kinds of drivers seek temporary car insurance at one point or another. If you borrow a car, take a driving test, come home for winter break, or fall behind on your full policy’s premiums, there are countless reasons to search for short-term coverage. But, temporary car insurance is not available from trusted insurers. Companies who offer it have suspicious reasons for going where insurance giants dare not, and it’s unlikely to benefit you—either financially or legally.

Instead, explore how you are already covered under your policy when you rent a car or someone else’s when you drive theirs. See how you can get added to a family member’s policy, whether a non-owner policy makes sense for you, and if your insurance company guarantees benefits across state lines before your next road trip. 

If not, we recommend a 6-month policy for full, dedicated, and traditional car insurance. Shop for the best, low rate on new car insurance with Compare.com.

Temporary Car Insurance FAQs

Can I get car insurance for a few days?

Unless you pay a rental car company for a few days’ coverage, it’s not a good idea. Non-rental, per-day policies come with huge risks. And they’re often advertised by companies with suspicious motives.

Is temporary car insurance legit?

Not really. Some unknown firms claim to fully insure your car for one day or up to one month, but they are not trustworthy. Insurance leaders that fairly evaluate claims never offer these policies, and for good reason.

What happens if you drive without insurance?

It depends. If you’re pulled over, you’ll pay a fine in some states; in others, they’ll suspend your license. After an accident, your car could get impounded and you may be liable for all the expense, even at times when the accident is not your fault. Each state defines the consequences of being an uninsured driver differently, but no matter where you live, having at least the state minimum coverage levels is always a good idea. 

Can you drive a car without insurance if you just bought it?

You may be able to buy a car without proof of insurance, but no car dealer is legally allowed to let you drive it away without an active policy. 

How do I get car insurance ASAP?

Your first step is to gather all your personal information, like driver’s license, VIN, and registration. Write down annual mileage for every vehicle. Use Compare.com to help you generate the lowest quotes from all the major car insurance companies. Open the best rate and coverage quotes from each company in a new tab. Personalize, and apply.

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