Temporary Car Insurance in California: The Cheapest Options and What You Need to Know

If you’re looking for temporary car insurance in California, the shortest term that most major insurance companies offer is six months. If you need a shorter policy, MoneyGeek found various ways to get temporary car insurance depending on your unique situation and needs.

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Last Updated: 8/15/2022
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If you need car insurance for less than six months, you could buy car insurance and cancel it early. You can typically cancel your policy early and get a refund for the duration it wasn’t used. In California, a three-month policy costs an average of $357.

Rental car insurance may be the best option for drivers renting a car in California or non-owners who need to drive around California.

MoneyGeek also looked at different situations where drivers may need temporary car insurance, like if you work for a ridesharing company or if someone borrows your car.

Can You Get Temporary Car Insurance in California

Acquiring temporary car insurance in California and other states depends on factors like being a car owner or a non-owner.

Car owners are advised to get a full car insurance policy and cancel it early. On the other hand, drivers who don't own a car have the option to get rental car insurance or non-owner car insurance.

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HOW TO FIND TEMPORARY CAR INSURANCE IN CALIFORNIA TO FIT YOUR NEEDS

MoneyGeek researched the different ways to get short-term car insurance in California depending on your needs.

Buying a Six-Month California Insurance Policy and Canceling It Early

Most major auto insurance companies throughout California do not sell policies shorter than six months, and the average cost is $714.

An alternative option is to cancel your auto insurance early as major insurance companies typically refund your premium for the unused duration.

A California car-owner that buys a six-month policy and cancels it in order to have a three-month policy will pay half of the cost of a six-month policy, which comes out to roughly $357.

MoneyGeek advises that if you use this strategy, avoid having a lapse in insurance coverage as you may need to pay increased premiums later on.

Cheap Temporary Car Insurance in California

MoneyGeek found the cost of car insurance in California and calculated the minimum six-month policy. Based on this, one-month and three-month policy costs were also calculated.

For a 90-day policy, the cheapest temporary car insurance in California is, on average:

  • Esurance: $264 per 90 days
  • Progressive: $283 per 90 days

Although major insurance companies usually provide full refunds of the unused term and do not charge cancellation fees, this calculation does not include these potential fees.

Annual Cost of Car Insurance in California by Policy Length

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Altering California Car Insurance Temporarily Depending on Your Needs

If you already have car insurance in California but need to add or remove coverage, the best option might be to modify your existing policy. The most common questions most drivers have about short-term car insurance involve what happens if a family’s teenager goes to college, needing to store your vehicle or what to do if someone borrows your car.

When You Should Alter Your Policy Temporarily

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If your child goes to school elsewhere in California, you can get a discount or temporarily remove them from your policy.

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If your car will be kept in storage, ask your provider if you can remove everything except for your comprehensive insurance. If you’re an active military member or veteran, check the car storage discounts provided by USAA.

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If you let someone borrow your car, only add them to your policy if they regularly drive your vehicle.

Cheap Temporary Car Insurance for Students in California

If you live in California with your child, adding them to the car insurance policy can be expensive. MoneyGeek discovered that it costs roughly $3,586 per year to add an 18-year-old to a California auto insurance policy. To save some money, you can ask for discounts, take them off your policy for part of the year if they live more than 100 miles away or keep them on your policy.

MoneyGeek identified that for a two-month summer, adding a student to your policy costs around $598 per year while the annual premium costs approximately $3,586 per year. When taking a student off your auto insurance policy, getting a policy with Allstate can save you around $4,224 per year.

Annual Cost of Adding an 18-Year-Old to Car Insurance in California

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  • Company
    Adding 18-year-old for two out of 12 months
    Adding an 18-year-old for the full year
    Difference
  • $2,145
    $357
    -$1,787
  • $2,228
    $371
    -$1,857
  • $3,217
    $536
    -$2,681
  • Allied
    $5,068
    $845
    -$4,224
  • $5,176
    $863
    -$4,314

What to Do About Car Insurance if You’re Storing Your Car in California

You have two options if you're storing your car in California and want to save money. You can either alter your car insurance policy to comprehensive-only or ask your provider for a vehicle storage discount.

While your car is stored, altering your policy to comprehensive-only and remove liability insurance coverage is a good way to save money. In California, comprehensive and collision insurance with a $1,000 deductible costs around $476 annually. On the other hand, comprehensive and collision and minimum liability insurance costs roughly $1,047 annually.

Current military members, veterans or military family members in California should consider USAA, which provides a discount for car storage and typically has cheaper policies at an average of $1,171 annually.

What to Do If You Let Someone Else Drive Your Car

If someone in the same household regularly drives your car, they must be insured on the same policy. However, if you allow someone outside your household to drive your car, they are covered by your policy without the need for modifying it.

Buying Rental Car Insurance in California

If you’re in California and want to rent a car short-term, most car rental companies offer basic liability insurance along with the option of including collision damage waivers, supplemental liability insurance and personal accident insurance. Depending on the company, the average cost ranges between $40 to $94. However, it might be possible to pick and choose the coverage that best fits your needs.

Finding Cheap Rental Car Insurance in California

MoneyGeek collected data from Los Angeles and found that rental car insurance can range from around $40 to $94, depending on the company. On average, Hertz costs $40, Avis costs $41 and Enterprise costs $94. These policies include supplemental liability, collision damage waiver and personal accident insurance.

You may not need to purchase complete coverage if you have your own auto insurance policy or medical insurance that might cover you.

If you are able to get collision damage and waiver coverage for rental cars from your credit card company, it might be possible to save money.

Cost per Day of Rental Car Insurance in California

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  • Rental Company
    Total Insurance Cost
    Supplemental Liability Cost
    Collision Damage Waiver Cost
    Personal Accident Insurance Cost
  • Enterprise
    $94
    $9
    $81
    $5
  • Avis
    $41
    $14
    $17
    $10
  • Hertz
    $40
    $16
    $17
    $7

Buying Non-Owner Car Insurance in California

Drivers who don’t own a car and need proof of insurance coverage or need to file an SR-22 for license reinstatement in California, non-owner car insurance is a good option. The average cost of a non-owner car policy in California is $461.

Non-owner insurance is the most affordable way to acquire a policy for those who don’t have or own a car and need to file an SR-22 in California.

How to Get Temporary Rideshare Car Insurance for Rideshare in California

Ridesharing drivers in California might know that once a passenger is transported or a fare is accepted, you are covered by insurance. Otherwise, there is a temporary car insurance coverage gap.

While rideshare insurance policies may not be available in all states, MoneyGeek compared all companies in California that offer the best rideshare insurance and fit your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions About Temporary Car Insurance in California

There are many different ways to get temporary car insurance in California, so it’s best to shop around and find the best option for you.

Methodology

In partnership with Quadrant Information Services, MoneyGeek collected California quotes for insurance and non-owner car insurance. MoneyGeek used the sample driver profile of a 40-year-old male with a clean driving record and full coverage policy, while the sample student profile represents the average cost of adding an 18-year-old driver to a policy.

The calculation for both one-month and three-month temporary car insurance was prorated and assumed a full refund from the insurance company.

MoneyGeek manually compiled rental car insurance costs in California by using Avis, Enterprise and Hertz.

About the Author


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Mark Fitzpatrick is a senior content manager with MoneyGeek specializing in insurance. Mark has years of experience analyzing the insurance market and creating original research and content. He graduated from Boston College with a Bachelor of Arts and Johns Hopkins University with a Master of Arts.


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