Weekend-Only Car Insurance: What to Know
Can you get car insurance for the weekend only?
In short, no. That would require activating and almost immediately canceling an insurance policy, a practice that is not advised. That said, some flexibility exists: you can save on insurance for a weekend car via usage-based or low-mileage policies. We’ll also look at insurance options for non-owners using a car-sharing service.
The idea of only carrying — and paying for — car insurance only when you need it is certainly appealing. Unfortunately, most car insurance companies don’t allow you to activate and deactivate your policy as you please. Still, with many companies embracing a work-from-home model, an increasing number of motorists are searching for more flexible auto insurance options. Luckily, there are money-saving options for those who drive infrequently. Read on to see the best flexible and cost-effective insurance options for infrequent drivers.
Do insurance companies offer short-term coverage?
The downside of insuring your car for the weekend only
Even if insurance companies allowed short-term or weekend-only car insurance policies, you would still face a number of risks and other downsides. For starters, deactivating your insurance policy would leave a gap in your insurance history, meaning that you would almost certainly face higher rates when you purchased another policy.
State law is another reason why car insurance for weekend drivers is so uncommon. Car insurance companies are at the mercy of state laws. Excluding legal technicalities in New Hampshire and Virginia, maintaining bodily injury and property damage liability coverage is mandatory. If you were to only carry car insurance on Saturday and Sunday, you’d be in violation of the law, putting you at of risk having your vehicle registration suspended. On top of putting you at odds with your state’s insurance requirements, this leaves you and your vehicle at risk. First, your car would have no comprehensive coverage to pay for any damages it might sustain while parked. Second, if your vehicle is parked on a public street or in an easily accessible driveway, you could still be considered liable for injuries or damage caused by the vehicle.
Moreover, if your vehicle is leased, your loan agreement may require you to maintain a high level of insurance coverage. This typically includes uninsured motorist coverage, low deductibles on comprehensive and collision coverage, and gap insurance. This means a weekends-only car insurance policy wouldn’t provide sufficient coverage.
Insuring a car for weekends only: what options do you have?
Despite the fact that weekend-only insurance doesn't truly exist, there are ways to save money on auto insurance if you limit your driving to weekends. Below we'll discuss some options that could be of use.
Pay-per-mile car insurance companies
If you’re a low-mileage, weekend-only, or infrequent driver, pay-as-you-go car insurance is worth considering. These usage-based policies, which rely on telematic devices to track mileage, can reduce your premiums significantly if you don't drive your car daily.
While the programs vary by company and depend on local availability, telematics use your mileage and driving behaviors as a way to price your premium. The more carefully and less frequently you drive, the cheaper your premium will be.
Telematic car insurance is available through these programs:
- Progressive SnapShot
- State Farm Drive Safe & Save
- Esurance DriveSense
- Nationwide SmartRide
- Nationwide SmartMiles*
- Allstate Milewise*
- Liberty Mutual RightTrack
*The programs offered by Metromile, Nationwide SmartMiles, and Allstate Milewise are different in that they market themselves as true "pay-as-you-go" car insurance companies. You pay a base fee and an additional per-mile fee. Together, these fees make up your actual auto insurance policy premium.
Rideshare services like Lyft and Uber also provide solid transportation options for occasional trips.
Zipcar and Turo are two of the most prominent car-sharing companies in the country. They can provide a great option for those who don’t need a car often enough to warrant owning one. Costs are often far more reasonable than standard car rental companies as well. Below we’ll discuss some of the insurance ramifications of using a car-share company so that you can stay protected.
How do car-share and Zipcar insurance coverages work?
Zipcar and other car-sharing companies typically provide optional insurance coverage while you use one of their vehicles. If chosen, this provides any minimum levels of state-required coverages such as personal injury protection or liability insurance as well as physical damage coverage that protects the vehicle. Each of them has different guidelines on how they handle a car damaged while in use.
Customers are typically required to pay a damage fee if they are responsible for damage to the vehicle. You may also be able to add a damage fee waiver as well that can reduce or remove this fee entirely. For example, Zipcar offers a few options at different price points that allow you to lower their standard $1,000 damage fee.
If your own car insurance covers your use of rental cars, then you may not need their protection packages. But you should double-check before you decide. If you decline protection coverage, you could be responsible for the full cost of damages.
Zipcar provides insurance for members “who comply with the membership contract” of up to $25,000 for property damage and $300,000 for bodily damage (up to $100,000 per person). The company offers Zipcar members a few different damage protection plans that can lower the amount you have to pay if you are responsible for damage to your rental.
What happens if you crash a Zipcar vehicle?
Zipcar has a damage fee — usually around $1,000 — that applies when a user has an accident that causes damage to the vehicle. Similar to an insurance deductible, this includes damages resulting from collisions, floods, fallen trees or any other accidents. This does not, however, apply to normal wear and tear.
Unlike Zipcar, Turo is a peer-to-peer car-sharing service. People who don’t use their cars very often can rent them out. There are different protection plans offered through partner insurer, Liberty Mutual. The three tiers of coverage to their hosts — Minimum, Standard, or Premium. Hosts can also choose to decline coverage, which would designate them as a Commercial Host. In this case, they would then be required to provide their own commercial rental liability insurance to any guests that rent their vehicles.
What happens if you crash a Turo car?
Here’s their breakdown of what you’ll pay after an accident based on the package you choose:
- Premium Package – Nothing out of pocket (for liability or physical damages)
- Standard Package – $500
- Minimum Package – $500-$3,000
- No package – $500-$3,000 (ultimate assessed costs can be up to the full value of the car, plus related costs)
In all but the Premium Package, they’ll charge you $500 before the damage is assessed, but refund you the difference if the cost is less than that.
Weekend-only or short-term car insurance: considerations
While weekend-only car insurance isn’t an option, motorists still have access to affordable insurance or car-sharing services. If you only need a car on a very limited basis, signing up with Turo or getting a Zipcar membership might be good enough for you. Those who have their own car can cut costs by signing up for telematics insurance that may provide lower rates for infrequent drivers.
A tried and true method of finding cheaper insurance is to simply shop around. The Zebra can help by finding you a number of free insurance quotes so you can find the best policy at an affordable rate. Start by entering your ZIP below.
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