Temporary Car Insurance Coverage

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When you’re buying car insurance, you’re typically looking for long-term coverage. Sometimes, however, temporary car insurance best suits your needs.

What is temporary car insurance?

Temporary car insurance has a shorter term than most car insurance policies, which usually run for six or 12 months. Temporary insurance can provide coverage for as little as one day or as many as 28 days. You can also have your coverage extended beyond 28 days if you’d like to continue coverage beyond your initial term. Unlike longer-term insurance, your policy won’t automatically renew.

This type of insurance is different from one-day insurance, which lacks a provision for more lengthy coverage. In addition, one-day auto insurance is a type of liability insurance only, so it will cover damage or injuries that you cause to another vehicle or person.

Temporary car insurance, on the other hand, is a type of comprehensive insurance. It covers not only liability, but also collision (damage to your own vehicle or to yourself). It also usually provides coverage for non-driving related damage such as hail or vandalism.

Temporary insurance may also include uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, which helps if you’re in an accident with someone who has no insurance or if they’re maximum coverage is less than your damages.

What are its drawbacks?

Temporary car insurance is generally more expensive than longer-term insurance. If you’re going to end up renewing it several times, it’s probably cheaper to buy a regular policy. If you’re worried about the upfront expense of paying for six to 12 months of insurance at a time, ask if you can pay quarterly or even monthly.

Your insurer may charge a little extra if you do this, but it can be an attractive option if that’s the only way you can comfortably afford longer-term insurance.

Under what circumstances can temporary car insurance be a good choice?

Buying a new car

If you’ve just bought a car, you’ll be breaking the law if you drive it off the lot without having insurance. And if you cause an accident, your car could be totaled, and you’ll still owe the bank or finance company your original loan amount while you don’t even have a car any more.

Temporary insurance can allow you to drive legally and be protected in case you’re in an accident. You can then start to shop around for more permanent auto insurance and take a little more time to do thorough research. In the meantime, you’ll have the coverage you need to legally drive your car.

Avoiding a lapse in coverage

If your regular car insurance came due and you chose not to renew it, you might be shopping around for a cheaper policy or one that offers more coverage for the same amount of money you’ve been paying.

In the meantime, you’ll need to have some type of coverage. If you haven’t yet decided on a longer-term policy, temporary insurance can allow you to drive legally.

It will also help you save money when you get a longer-term policy, because many companies will charge more for drivers who have had a lapse in coverage, particularly one lasting longer than 30 days.

When you’re on vacation

If you’re going on vacation and will be driving a rental car or perhaps borrowing a friend or relative’s larger or more reliable car, temporary insurance may be a good choice. Just make sure that you tell the insurance company if you’re planning to drive into another state.

Each has its own rules for the type of insurance it requires, as well as the minimum amount of coverage you’ll have to have, so make sure you’ll be adequately covered in each state that you’ll be driving in.

Driving a moving van

If you’ve moving, you may be facing a cross-country trip behind the wheel of a moving van. Even if you have regular coverage, a temporary policy can help you make sure that you have the level of coverage you need, particularly as you drive across different states.

Particularly if you don’t own a car and thus don’t have a regular policy, you may want to consider temporary insurance if you’ll be driving a moving van. You’ll need some type of insurance, and the company that rents you the van may offer to sell you an overpriced policy with extremely limited coverage.

Make sure you have the coverage you need, because your chances of being in an accident are probably greater than normal. You’ll be driving a large vehicle on unfamiliar roads, with your belongings behind you. An accident could cause a great deal of expensive damage to the moving van, your belongings, and another driver’s vehicle.

Covering a college student who’s at home

If you have a college student home for a few weeks and he or she will be driving your car, they’ll need to be covered. You can add your son or daughter as what’s called a “named driver” on your regular policy, but this could be more expensive than taking out a temporary policy for them.

Since younger drivers don’t have a lot of experience behind the wheel, their rates are generally higher than those of older, more experienced drivers. Temporary insurance may also keep your regular insurance rates from increasing if your son or daughter gets into an accident, since the temporary policy will be the one providing coverage.

Letting a friend borrow your car

Most people think that if they lend their car to a friend, the friend’s auto insurance will pay the bill if they’re in an accident. Actually, your insurance would be the primary coverage involved.

The worst-case scenario is loaning your friend your car for a few weeks without realizing they don’t have auto insurance, or their policy doesn’t cover them while they’re driving your car. If this is the case, you could face serious financial consequences.

If your friend will be driving your car for a week or even more, temporary insurance will give you peace of mind and protection if they’re in an accident.

Borrowing a friend’s car

You may also be in a position where you’re borrowing a friend’s car for a week or two. Perhaps your car is in the shop for repairs and you’re driving someone else’s car in the meantime.

Temporary car insurance can give you the coverage you need and give your friend peace of mind knowing that if you’re in an accident, their good deed won’t affect their insurance rates.

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How to get a temporary insurance policy

If you already have longer-term auto insurance and need a temporary policy, ask your current insurer if they offer this type of coverage. They may offer a discount for multiple policies.

Don’t assume, however, that they’ll always have the best rates. As with any type of insurance policy, you should shop around for a temporary policy to find the price and level of coverage that you need.