Temporary Car Insurance: What Are Your Options?

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You may have more than a few options if you need car insurance for an auto you'll only be driving for a short time. Some people may think they need temporary car insurance, but getting the right coverage may not mean you must buy a policy separate from the one that covers your own car. 

What Is Temporary Car Insurance?

Temporary car insurance, or short-term car insurance, could work if you will only need insurance for a short time, such as less than six months. This could be due to a few reasons.

Insurers often write standard car policies that last for a term of six months to one year. They are not in the business of writing insurance for terms as short as just a few days. People often look for other options. They may not be easy to find in the U.S., but there are ways to make sure that you're covered.

Who Might Want Temporary Car Insurance?

You might need or want a temp policy if you buy a new car that you only intend to own for a short time. Or you might want coverage now so you can take your time shopping for a permanent policy.

You might borrow a friend's car for a few hours. You don't need your own policy in this case. But that would change if you borrow the car for days or weeks.

People who visit another country and take their cars with them may also look into temporary car insurance for the short term. You could get temp insurance to cover you if you were to drive to Mexico and spend a few weeks in the country.

Contact your insurer if you plan to buy a car, then sell it shortly after. You may be able to add the new car to an existing policy instead of taking out a new one.

Before Buying Temporary Car Insurance

People are often confused by the coverage that different policies provide. You may not need temp coverage at all, depending on your circumstances.

Contact your last car insurer, your current home insurer, or a licensed insurance rep. Explain your situation to them. Do so before you decide you need to buy an extra liability policy or a car policy for temporary reasons. They may surprise you by letting you know you already have coverage, or they may be able to steer you to a temporary solution.

Call your agent before you buy a new car if you have insurance on another car or truck. Your insurer may be willing to cover the new vehicle for a brief time.

You can also look into buying a policy with a short term, such as for six months.

Another option is to speak to the owner of the car you'll be using. Have them ask their own insurer if your use of their car is covered. You may not have to buy any coverage if this is the case.

Check with your credit card lender if you're renting a car. Some credit cards will cover your rental car if you pay for the rental with your card.

You can always buy a non-owner liability policy if you don't own a car. But this may not be your only or best option. Speak with a professional to get the best advice. Liability policies won't cover damage to a car.

Does Your Personal Car Insurance Cover a Temporary Car?

Your car insurance may cover rental cars. You may not need to buy any temporary car insurance through a rental agency if it does. The coverage will often reflect the same as what you carry on your own car. It would extend to your rental car if you have a $500 deductible on comprehensive coverage.

Your personal auto insurance might not extend to business use of rental cars. Check with your insurer to confirm that you have the proper coverage before renting a car for this purpose. They should be able to help you.

Non-Owner Liability Policies

Non-owner liability policies are meant to cover certain circumstances. They have some exclusions on cars that can be insured on the policy.

Do a search online to find a good rate on a non-owner policy. Many insurers do offer these policies, so again, it can be good to start with your own company. You may save some money by making sure you're not doubling up on your coverage when you don't have to.

What's Covered by Temporary Car Insurance?

You will have different coverage options depending on the kind of temp insurance you decide to purchase. Ask about basic coverages to make sure you understand the policy before you buy it. These would include liability, comprehensive, and collision.

Ask about coverage against uninsured and underinsured drivers as well. Find out if the policy covers medical costs, towing, and loss of use.

What About Personal Effects in a Car? 

Rental agencies may ask if you would like to purchase personal effects coverage. But your belongings may be covered under your homeowner insurance policy or renters policy if you lose items in a car. They must be items that are not attached to the car, or a part of the car itself so they are not covered by your car insurance.

Your claim would likely be subject to a deductible. Making a claim may also result in losing your loss-free discount.

How Much Does Temporary Car Insurance Cost?

The price of temp insurance will depend on what kind of car you are insuring, if you are even able to find a temporary policy for what you need. It may also depend on how you will be using it, your insurance history, and the length of time for which you need insurance.

Shop around and see what coverage you can get from your own company first.