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Temporary car insurance

A woman stands with an adjustor, contemplating car insurance options.
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Temporary auto insurance is an elusive prospect that doesn’t always pan out the way customers would like. But with proper caution and understanding, it may be possible to get short term auto insurance when you need it. There are many situations where traditional auto insurance policies may not be reasonable. In these situations, finding one week auto insurance can lessen the commitment and save some money.

While it’s possible to find temporary car insurance, it’s generally not offered by the larger auto insurance companies. When short term car insurance isn’t available or doesn’t make sense, some alternatives may work instead.

Temporary Auto Insurance Explained

Temporary auto insurance policies are shorter than the standard six-month to one-year options. It’s rare for larger, more established auto insurance companies to write auto insurance policies shorter than six months. The shorter a policy is, the worse the profit to risk ratio is for the insurance company.

Imagine that you manage to take out a two-month policy on your car with a limit of $50,000 for property damage. Even if you pay as much as a few hundred per month, it will add up to less than $1,000 in premiums. In the last week of the policy, you cause an accident and do $45,000 worth of property damage. At that point, the insurance company has made less than $1,000 and lost $45,000.

It’s not hard to see why a business would balk at such a risky financial commitment. Despite these risks, some companies offer short term auto insurance, but generally at a higher premium than traditional length policies.

When Short-Term Car Insurance is Needed

There are many situations where one might benefit from a temporary car insurance policy. From students coming home for the summer to families on vacation, short term car insurance can prove a necessity. In some cases, though, there are alternative solutions – like rental insurance or being added to an existing auto policy.

Borrowing a car

When borrowing a car, the owner’s insurance may cover you. However, this is not a given and should not be counted upon. First, check with the owner’s policy to see if you will be covered. If not, you may want to pursue some form of temporary auto insurance. An alternative option could be a non-owner liability policy.

Renting a vehicle

When renting a vehicle, there may be an included liability policy with the car. More commonly, though, the renter will be required to purchase at least the state minimum of liability insurance for that vehicle. This can often be done through the rental company, but may be less expensive if purchased directly from an insurance company.


College students are often home for only a few months at a time. During that time, they will likely want to use one of the family vehicles. Depending on your policy, this may be fine without any add-ons or alterations required but that is not always the case. If your policy doesn’t cover your college student when they’re home for the summer, they will need to either be added to the policy or obtain temporary car insurance.

Storing the vehicle

While putting a car away in storage removes the risk of getting into a collision, the vehicle is still potentially susceptible to vandalism, weather and other types of damage. For this reason, some people prefer to purchase a temporary comprehensive auto insurance policy for their cars while they are stored.

Driving test

Driving students often need a car for just one day so that they can take their driving test. Depending on where the vehicle comes from, auto insurance may be included. If not, the student must obtain auto insurance on that vehicle before taking the test. One of the requisites for a driving test is proof of insurance. Driving schools can sometimes facilitate short term auto insurance for driving students.


Whether using a temporary car while on vacation or storing your own car during this time, there are reasons to consider short term car insurance. As mentioned above, vehicles in storage can benefit from comprehensive coverage. On top of that, any temporary vehicle used on vacation will need to meet the local state’s minimum auto insurance requirements.

What Temporary Car Insurance Covers

Short term car insurance can, in theory, cover just about anything that a traditional policy would. This is because the primary difference between short term car insurance and conventional car insurance is the duration and not the coverage. Below are some of the most common types of coverages sought as temporary car insurance.

  • Liability: Liability coverage is broken up into bodily injury coverage and property damage. Bodily injury covers the medical costs of others injured in an auto accident where you are at-fault. Property damage covers the costs of repairs or replacement for the property of others damaged in an auto accident if you are found at-fault.
  • Collision: Collision insurance covers the cost of repairs or replacement for your own car when you are in an auto accident. It only applies if the vehicle was being driven when the incident occurred.
  • Comprehensive: Comprehensive insurance covers the costs of repairs or replacements for your car if it is damaged while it is not being driven. This can cover similar types of damages as collision insurance. Still, the two do not overlap since one (collision) requires the car to be in use while the other (comprehensive) requires that the vehicle not be in use during the incident.
  • Uninsured motorist: These policies provide liability coverage for you if another driver is at-fault for an auto accident with you and is uninsured.

Frequently Asked Question

What is the best car insurance company?

Finding the best car insurance company is different for everyone. This is because numerous variables relating to the driver and the car play a significant role in determining which companies and policies are best for that driver. To find the best arrangement for your needs, consider the Bankrate guide to the Best Car Insurance Companies.

How much does temporary car insurance cost?

Prices can vary significantly depending on several variables. Driver factors like age, driving record, credit score and more all come into play. Beyond that, different companies charge different amounts for their coverage options. In general, however, short term car insurance does see higher premiums than traditional length policies do.

Will purchasing temporary car insurance impact my insurance rates in the future?

In general, no. Being found driving without the mandatory minimum amount of auto insurance will cause rate increases but using temporary car insurance will not negatively affect your future premiums.

Written by
Joshua Cox-Steib
Insurance Contributor
Joshua Cox-Steib has two years of experience in writing for insurance domains such as Bankrate,, The Simple Dollar,, and more. His work has also been featured on such sites as MSN and BBB (Better Business Bureau). His insurance writing career has spanned across multiple product lines, with a primary focus on auto insurance, life insurance, and home insurance.