Most major car insurance companies won't offer policies shorter than six months long. But you make a traditional car insurance a temporary policy by canceling it early, though some insurers may charge a cancellation fee.
Temporary Car Insurance: Who Offers Short-Term and Month-to-Month Options?
If you are going to own a car for a short period of time and you’re looking for temporary car insurance, you will have to buy a policy that lasts at least six months. None of the major insurance companies will offer you a policy on a month-to-month basis, but you might have the option to cancel your policy before the six month term is finished and get a refund on the remainder of the term.
If you don’t own a car but you’re going to be renting or borrowing, or if you need proof of insurance, there are plenty of ways to get temporary car insurance coverage without buying a traditional car insurance policy. The car insurance policy of a car’s owner, rental car insurance policies and non-owner car insurance policies can help cover you temporarily in these situations.
Read on to learn the best ways to ensure you’re covered if you only need car insurance for days, weeks or a few months.
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What Is Temporary Car Insurance?
Car insurance companies sell car insurance policies in one year or six month increments. Insurers don’t offer temporary insurance policies for those looking for coverage for a single day, a couple of weeks or even a month.
A website search will pull up companies that claim to offer car insurance for a day or a week, but these are often car insurance scams, or they’ll connect you to someone who will sell you a six-month policy.
The best way to get temporary car insurance coverage depends on your situation.
- If you own a car and you need coverage for a period shorter than six months, you are in a rare situation where you actually need to buy a traditional car insurance policy temporarily. You can create a temporary car insurance policy by buying a six month policy and canceling it early, though you risk incurring some penalties.
- If you own a car and someone is borrowing it, they’re almost certainly already covered by your existing car insurance policy, as long as they have your permission to drive. You won’t need a new policy.
- If you don’t own a car but you need temporary coverage because you’re renting, it usually makes sense to get rental car insurance coverage. If you’re frequently renting cars, you might want to consider non-owner car insurance. Neither is a traditional car insurance policy, but each will better fit your needs.
If you fall in the second two categories, read more about how to cover yourself without buying a traditional car insurance policy.
What to Do If You Need Temporary Car Insurance
If you’re in a rare situation in which you’ll be owning a car for less than six months, you can get a six-month policy and opt to pay in monthly installments. When you no longer need the insurance, you can cancel it. If you have prepaid for the policy, the insurance company will issue a refund for the unused months.
Keep in mind that if you cancel your car insurance and plan to buy a policy again in the future, the lapse in coverage may result in you paying higher rates down the line. Insurance companies reward drivers who have had continuous insurance coverage.
Temporary Car Insurance Policy Example
The table below illustrates your cost if you get a six-month policy and then cancel it. The policy's total cost is $678, with the first 30 days billed at $113. If all you need is a month's worth of car insurance, you would cancel the policy. The insurance company should refund you $565 for the unused portion.
You can also choose to pay month to month. The premiums tend to be a little higher than if you paid in one lump sum, but then you don't have to come up with the full amount all at once. You also don't have to wait for a refund.
Temporary Car Insurance Sample Costs
- 6-Month Policy Cost$678
- First 30 Days$113
Shop around just like you would for any insurance. Choose the amount of coverage you need and then consider whether you need liability insurance, collision and comprehensive or personal injury protection.
What Is the Process for Requesting a Car Insurance Refund?
To cancel your car insurance, call your insurance company and ask to speak to someone about canceling your policy. They may have you sign a cancellation letter verifying your desire to cancel. Then request a refund for the unused months.
Getting a refund may take as long as thirty days. Some states do have rules surrounding how insurance companies have to handle refunds, so contact your state insurance commissioner if you're having difficulty getting your refund.
The Best Temporary Car Insurance Companies With No Cancellation Fees
Some insurance companies charge a fee if you try to cancel. While some companies will cancel immediately, some will require you to wait as long as thirty days. Here are the best temporary car insurance companies we found. Getting a quote on car insurance from these and other top companies could help you save.
How to Apply for Temporary Car Insurance
Shopping around can help you find the best car insurance for your needs and budget. Get quotes from at least three companies, comparing coverage and limits. Since you will be canceling the policy, get quotes from companies that don’t charge cancellation fees. If you pay in one lump sum, understand that receiving your refund might take a while. You should also set a reminder on your phone, so you don’t forget to cancel.
To buy car insurance, you’ll need:
- Driver’s license
- Social security number
- Bank information
- Vehicle information on the car you want to cover
You can either go directly to an insurance company or to an online broker to get instant car insurance quotes from multiple companies. You can also call if you prefer to talk to someone to sort out your options.
Who Shouldn’t Get Short-Term Insurance
Most people who don’t own a car and are only driving for short periods of time should not get a traditional car insurance policy. The price of temporary car insurance — buying a policy and then canceling it before the end of six months — won’t be worth it.
But there are many ways to get covered without buying temporary car insurance. If you’re renting a car, you can buy insurance from the rental company. If you’re borrowing a car, you’ll be covered on the owner’s policy. And for people who drive frequently but don’t own a car, we suggest non-owner auto insurance as a solution.
Below, explore some of the scenarios in which you can get temporary coverage without buying a traditional six month car insurance policy.
- You’re renting a car and you rent cars infrequentlyYou should get rental car insurance from the rental car company.
- You rent cars frequentlyIt may be worth getting non-owner car insurance to cover you while you drive.
- You’re borrowing your friend’s carWith their verbal permission, you’re covered by their policy.
- You’re borrowing your roommate’s carBecause you live in the same household, you should be listed on their car insurance policy if you're driving their car.
- You’re a student driving your parents’ carStudents living at home should remain on their parents’ policy. Students living away from home need to get their own policy.
- You need to file an SR-22If you can’t drive because of a suspended license due to a serious traffic violation and need to file an SR-22, you can get a non-owner policy.
Temporary Car Insurance vs. Non-Owner Car Insurance
Non-owner car insurance is insurance for people who drive but don't own their car. It's less expensive than maintaining a traditional policy. MoneyGeek found that a sample non-owner policy cost an average of $585 per year, $180 cheaper than an equivalent owner policy.
A non-owner policy includes liability car insurance coverage, which is required in almost every state. Even if it isn't required, it's essential to be protected in case of an accident to protect yourself from the cost of damages. A non-owner policy will not cover damages to the car you’re driving.
Most car insurance companies offer non-owner policies, although most require you to call to get a quote.
Expert Advice: Temporary Car Insurance
- Is it ever worth canceling my insurance policy early to get savings with another company?
- How long do car insurance policies usually last?
Associate Professor of Economics at Weber State University
Ernest C. Wheeler Chair of Business at Oklahoma Baptist University
Assistant Professor of Business Administration at Southwestern College
Instructor of Finance at the University of Minnesota's Labovitz School of Business and Economics
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About the Author
- NAIC. "Map of Insurance Commissioners." Accessed July 25, 2020.