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People typically buy a car insurance policy that lasts six months or a year. But you might find yourself in a situation where you need short-term car insurance or coverage for a smaller amount of time to meet your temporary needs. Here’s what you need to know about temporary car insurance.
- True temporary auto insurance isn’t an option in the U.S.
- Most auto policies from reputable insurers are available in six- and 12-month increments.
- If you need coverage for a short period of time, you may be able to find it through a pay-per-mile, usage-based, or non-owner insurance plan.
What Is Temporary Car Insurance?
Temporary car insurance is exactly what it sounds like: coverage for a short period of time. But if you shop around, you’ll find that most insurance companies don’t offer policies that are less than six months.
For this reason, you might have to invest in a six-month policy, cancel it when you no longer need it, and collect a refund. But if you go this route, keep in mind that you’ll likely pay more for coverage, and you may even end up with a costly insurance lapse.
Is temporary car insurance legit?
Unfortunately, true temporary car insurance doesn’t exist in the U.S. In general, auto insurance companies offer policies in six- or 12-month increments. The good news is that Hugo is one insurer that offers a short-term car insurance policy that you can turn on or off when you need to.
You might want to explore several other alternatives to temporary coverage, as well. We’ll cover a few of the most common in the sections below.
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Ways to Get Short-Term Car Insurance Coverage
If you need temporary insurance, you’ll need to get creative and look for policies with short-term coverage. Here are a few ideas to consider.
Usage-based car insurance tracks your driving behavior and looks for things like speeding, aggressive braking, hard cornering, miles driven, and phone use while driving. It typically tracks your driving with a smartphone app or telematics device that’s installed on your windshield or OBDII port. As long as you’re a safe driver, this can be a great way to secure a lower rate on a short-term policy.
Non-owner car insurance
If you drive a car that you don’t own because you’re borrowing it from a friend or the person you babysit for, for example, you may be a good candidate for non-owner auto insurance. Compared to standard auto insurance, a non-owner car insurance policy tends to be more affordable since you likely drive less. You can also cancel non-owner insurance before it expires and avoid paying for coverage you don’t need. Just be wary of lapses in coverage, which can lead to higher rates on your next policy.
Pay-as-you-go car insurance
Also known as pay-as-per-mile insurance, pay-as-you-go car insurance might make sense if you’re an infrequent driver. Your premium will be based on the number of miles you drive instead of how your insurance company thinks you’ll drive. It can give you the chance to lower your car insurance costs while still maintaining consistent coverage.
Hugo is one example of a pay-as-you-go company. Depending on the plan you choose, you may make “micropayments” for as few as three days of coverage and up to six months at a time. Once you purchase a policy, you can turn it on or off through the toggle feature on Hugo’s website.
When You Might Need Temporary Car Insurance
You might need a shorter car insurance policy in a number of situations, including:
Someone else is driving your car
If you have a spouse, friend, relative, housekeeper, roommate, babysitter, family member, or someone else who will drive your car every once in a while, a traditional car insurance policy will likely cover them because of “permissive use.” Under the principle of permissive use, they’ll be protected by your car insurance as long as they only borrow your car on an occasional basis and you give them permission to do so.
You’re a student driver
If you’re trying to get your driver’s license, you should be covered under your parent, guardian, or significant other’s policy while you’re learning how to drive with their vehicle. You don’t have to invest in a separate, temporary policy.
Also, if you’re a student who’s away at college and doesn’t drive very often, you may only need a short-term policy for when you’re home. Your parent or guardian can add you to their policy and take you off when you return to school. They can also take advantage of a “student away” discount for college students and young drivers to lock in coverage without paying full price.
You’re renting a car
Before you rent a car, check your car insurance policy to determine whether it will cover your rental. Fortunately, most policies provide coverage for rental cars. If your policy doesn’t, however, you may have to purchase rental car protection or use rental car insurance through your credit card company. Just note that your car insurance might not cover a rental car if it’s for business use.
You’re traveling internationally
If you have plans to travel abroad, you might need international short-term insurance. Most major auto insurance companies give you the option to extend your policy to Canada. If you’re going to Mexico, however, find out if your insurer partners with a company that will allow you to purchase a policy while you’re abroad. And if you plan to visit the U.S. from another country for a short period of time, be sure to explore short-term car insurance options from American insurers.
Your car is going into storage
While it’s not required in every state, short-term insurance for a stored vehicle may be worthwhile to protect against theft or damage. In this case, you might want to invest in comprehensive coverage, which is specifically designed to cover damages for non-collision events, like theft, fires, or falling objects.
How Much Does Temporary Car Insurance Cost?
Because temporary car insurance is intended to last for a shorter period than a standard car insurance policy, you might think it would be cheaper. The reality is that it will likely cost you more since it’s considered specialty coverage.
Just like traditional car insurance, the price of a short-term policy will depend on several factors, such as the company, the policy type, your age, your driving history, and where you’re located. Below are a few options for temporary car insurance you may want to look into.
Hugo: True temporary coverage
Hugo is a car insurance company that specializes in pay-as-you-go coverage. You can pay for as little as three days’ worth of car insurance and turn coverage on and off as you need to. That makes it one of the best temporary car insurance companies. And in fact, it’s really the only one.
The average Hugo policy costs $196 per month, according to Compare.com data. That makes it quite a bit more expensive than the national average of $119 per month, but for many drivers, the ability to toggle coverage on and off and pay only for what you need makes the extra cost worthwhile.
- Three flexible plans to choose from: Flex, Unlimited Basic, and Unlimited Full
- Ability to turn coverage on or off as needed
- Not available in every state
- Full coverage not available for Flex Plans
Mile Auto: Pay-per-mile insurance
Mile Auto is a pay-per-mile car insurance company with a focus on people who don’t drive often. Its premiums are based on how many miles you drive each month, so the less you drive, the less you’ll pay.
Mile Auto’s average liability rate is just $70 per month, according to Compare.com data. That makes it significantly cheaper than the national average of $129 per month, but remember that’s only the base rate. You’ll be charged a per-mile fee each month depending on how much you drive.
- Lower rates for low-mileage drivers
- No need to install a tracking device in your vehicle
- Must submit a photo of your odometer each month
- Rates can increase if you drive more than usual one month
How to Find a Temporary Car Insurance Policy
If you’re in the market for temporary car insurance coverage, these tips can come in handy.
- Explore all your options: It’s a good idea to do your research and learn about all the temporary or short-term policies at your disposal. Compare rates, fees, and coverage timelines to zero in on the ideal policy and the best rate.
- Consider a traditional policy you can cancel early: Depending on your situation, it might make sense to opt for traditional car insurance and cancel it after a few months. Note that some policies charge cancellation fees and having lapses in insurance can cause your rates to increase later on.
- Be honest: Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure the car insurer understands why you need temporary coverage. This can help reduce the risk of investing in the wrong type of policy.
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Temporary Car Insurance FAQs
Here are some answers to the most commonly asked questions about temporary car insurance.
Is temporary car insurance legit?
Most car insurance companies don’t offer temporary car insurance. Hugo is currently the only insurer on the market offering true temporary coverage. Butou may also be eligible for an alternative option, such as a pay-per-mile policy, usage-based plan, or non-owner car insurance.
Can you get month-to-month car insurance?
Month-to-month car insurance is rare since most car insurance companies only sell policies in six- or 12-month increments. But it may be possible to purchase coverage from these companies in other ways.
Do you need insurance to drive someone else’s car?
Yes, you do need car insurance to drive another person’s vehicle. Typically, you’ll be protected by their liability coverage. But if they have collision or comprehensive coverage, it may not transfer.
Does GEICO offer temporary car insurance?
Just like most major car insurance companies, GEICO doesn’t offer temporary coverage. Fortunately, however, it does offer six-month policies you can cancel after a few months, often without paying a cancellation fee.
Can you get one-day car insurance?
Reputable car insurers don’t usually sell one-day car insurance. You should be wary of any insurer that advertises this. Chances are they’re not a reputable company. However, Hugo is one car insurance company that offers three-day coverage as its shortest option.
How is the premium for short-term car insurance calculated?
The company and type of short-term policy you choose will dictate how your premium is calculated. Typically, insurers consider factors like your age, location, and driving record.
Data scientists at Compare.com analyzed more than 50 million real-time auto insurance rates from more than 75 partner insurance providers in order to compile the quotes and statistics seen in this article. Compare.com’s auto insurance data includes coverage analysis and details on drivers’ vehicles, driving records, insurance histories, and demographic information.
All the quotes listed in this article have been gathered from a combination of real Compare.com quotes and external insurance rate data gathered in collaboration with Quadrant Information Services. Compare.com uses these observations to provide drivers with insight into how auto insurance companies determine their premiums.
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