Temporary Car Insurance: Everything You Need To Know

If you don’t drive often, you may wonder how to save money on car insurance. Here’s everything you need to know about your temporary car insurance options.

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Temporary Car Insurance: Everything You Need To KnowTemporary Car Insurance: Everything You Need To Know

What is Temporary Car Insurance?

Do you ever find yourself lying awake at night wondering what happens if you need car insurance for a brief spell but don’t have any coverage? Well, you can rest easy and stop stressing about insurance at 2am, because there’s temporary car insurance. Yes, such things do exist!

While most major insurance companies won’t issue policies for under six months — and, in fact, most policies are actually bi-annual or annual — there are still many other ways to get coverage if you're an occasional driver. It just depends on what the circumstances are — so let’s dive into it! 

Six Types of Temporary Car Insurance Coverage

As we mentioned, the options available to you for temporary car insurance depend on what you need. And we can’t answer that for you because we don’t have that kind of existential information. We can, however, tell you about the different types of policies you might encounter out there in the world of temporary car insurance. 

Permissive Use

Typically, car insurance applies to the vehicle — not the driver. And that’s good news for you! If a car’s owner permits you to drive it occasionally, you’re likely covered under their insurance. This means that if you get into an accident, the car’s owner will file a claim. Their policy would then pay for property damage and medical expenses according to the established limits. 

That said, you definitely want the policyholder to confirm with their insurer that you’ll be covered before you get behind the wheel. Otherwise you’re just winging it, which could end badly. 

Added Driver

If you plan to drive someone else’s car regularly but over a limited amount of time, they can add you to their car insurance policy for that specific period. In fact, their provider may require that they list all licensed drivers in their household on their policy — which may be applicable to you if you’re living with the policyholder. 

Either way, if you’re a named driver, then there’s no question that you’d be covered in the event of an accident. Just a small heads up: your friend or family member’s premium might increase when you’re added to their policy — especially if you’re an inexperienced driver or have had several moving violations. So you may want to discuss this possibility with them beforehand to avoid any surprises. 

Pay Per Mile Coverage

If you don’t drive much but still like having your own policy, it’s worth looking into pay-per-mile insurance. With these policies, you pay a base rate plus a fee determined by the amount of miles you drive. If you’re seriously considering this option, chat with your provider to make sure the policy still comes with the same liability and medical protections as you’d get otherwise.

Non-Owner Policy 

If you don’t have your own car, non-owner car insurance could make the most sense. You still have to purchase coverage for either six months or yearly, but the costs will be significantly cheaper. Most options cover repair costs and medical bills for the injured party if you’re at fault, but you’ll also want to talk with your provider about adding coverage for personal injuries and medical payments.

Rental Car Coverage

When you rent a vehicle, there are often several temporary coverage options, not to mention the fact that rental companies will always offer a variety of options (including a loss damage waiver, liability coverage, personal accident insurance, and personal effects coverage). 

It’s possible that your standard auto insurance policy (if you have one) will cover a rental. You’ll need to check your policy’s paperwork or speak to an agent. 

Some credit cards also offer coverage for rentals. It’s a case-by-case, company-by-company, and car-by-car kind of situation, since things like limos may not be covered. Speak with your credit card company to get the details and confirm in advance. But one thing is certain: in order for coverage to go into effect, you must have booked the rental car using that exact credit card. 

Some third party insurance providers sell rental car policies, though you’ll need to do your own research to make sure you’re not getting conned. Anything claiming to be a one-day insurance policy, for example, is likely a scam.

Standard Policy 

The best way to ensure you have the protection you need may just be to purchase a standard auto insurance policy for a six-month period. You can always cancel the policy before the term ends, though there might be a charge. 

Buying your own policy lets you choose the insurer and the amount of coverage that makes the most sense for you. Plus, you might qualify for a low-mileage discount on your car insurance policy, so it’s worth exploring with an agent.

When Should You Purchase Temporary Car Insurance?

Turns out, there are quite a few times you might want a temporary policy. Here are a just a handful of possibilities:

  • You’re a college student driving your parents’ hatchback while home for the summer. In this case, it may make the most sense for your parents to add you to their policy while you’re home on break.
  • You’re home for a few months between military deployments. In this case, it’s likely a smart bet to purchase a standard policy and cancel it before you leave.
  • You only commute a handful of miles per month. In this case, you might want to consider a pay-per-mile policy.
  • You’re heading to a friend’s wedding and picking up a car for the weekend. In this case, check with the rental car provider or your credit card company.
  • You absolutely love a Zipcar rental or borrowing your friend’s convertible every weekend. Here, it makes sense to obtain a non-owners policy.

All of which begs the question: Are there times when you don’t need to purchase temporary auto insurance? Test driving new cars does not require insurance. Neither does go-karting at an amusement park. And if you do drive super infrequently, you’ll likely be covered by the car owner’s policy. 

Effortlessly Manage Your Temporary Policies With Marble

Got questions about when you need what kind of insurance? Marble’s got the answer! Plus, we’ll help you keep track of all your policies — temporary or otherwise. Get started with Marble today!