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Temporary Car Insurance: When & How To Get It

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Research Last Updated: 04/10/2012

Why you may need a temporary car insurance policy – and how to get short-term coverage.

Temporary Car Insurance for Car Rentals

You may need temporary car insurance if you're renting a car.

Drivers need auto insurance in most US states. If you’re behind the wheel and not carrying an insurance policy, things could go bad quickly.

If you cause an accident, you will still be responsible for damages caused. You may even be responsible for actions you don’t cause, like in a no-fault state. That’s why it’s important to get liability coverage whenever you drive.

However, if you’re only driving every once in awhile, temporary car insurance may be sufficient. “Temporary car insurance” is a term used for short-term policies. Technically, every insurance policy is temporary because it only lasts until your next renewal – 6 months or a year down the road. However, temporary car insurance policies are used to cover drivers in situations not-deemed permanent by insurance carriers.

When You Might Need Temporary Car Insurance

There are several situations where you might need temporary car insurance. This list is not comprehensive but shows typical situations where temporary car insurance coverage would be appropriate.

  • Road-trip coverage for a rental car.
  • Renting a vehicle for other-than vacation purposes.
  • Covering a child who’s learning to drive
  • Comprehensive protection for a stored car.
  • Classic car insurance while driving, if it’s not normally covered.
  • Test driving a vehicle.
  • Borrowing a friend’s vehicle.
  • Temporary ownership of a vehicle.
  • Foreigner visiting the US and driving a vehicle.
  • And more…

Contact Your Current Insurance Company First

If you think you need temporary coverage, check with your current insurance company first. If you have an auto policy in place, your current policy should extend coverage to any other vehicle you drive. No need in buying something you don’t need.

If you don’t have a policy, but you’re driving other people’s vehicles on a regular basis, many companies offer non-owners policies. This provides you, the driver, coverage usually in addition to the primary policy. Whatever the situation, your insurer should be able offer the appropriate coverage.

A Temporary Policy

Another option is getting temporary car insurance coverage. When renting a car, you can pick up a short-term policy from the rental car company. These policies can be expensive on an annualized basis. But prices are reasonable on a short-term rental – $6-12/day.

Check with your regular insurance carrier as well. A traditional insurance company typically offers better rates than rental car companies. These policies can last 1-30 days. However, not every company offers them. For convenience sake, it may be best to just go with the rental car option.

Another Option: Take out a Regular Policy

If you plan to need temporary car insurance for one month or longer, you might also consider getting a traditional policy. You are only responsible for premium while you need auto insurance. If you cancel the policy – say after 6 weeks – the insurance company is responsible for returning any premium that is due. It’s called the return of unearned premium and the state insurance boards regulates it. If you go that route, make sure you only pay for monthly car insurance.

If you need a quote for temporary auto insurance, apply here:

Temporary Car Insurance Quote

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Todd Clay

Todd Clay is a former insurance agent with the largest insurance company in the United States. He earned his Bachelor’s from the University of Texas. He's worked in several fields but has specialized in insurance, financial-related information, and technology. He blogs at Car Insurance Guidebook. Connect with Tood on Google+

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