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Ross Martin

Insurance Writer

  • 4+ years in the Insurance Industry

Ross joined The Zebra as a writer and researcher in 2019. He specializes in writing insurance content to help shoppers make informed decisions.

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Mark Friedlander

Director, Corporate Communications, Insurance Information Institute

Mark Friedlander has over 30 years of experience in the insurance industry. He is the Director, Corporate Communications, at the Insurance Informatio…

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Beth Swanson

SEO Content Strategist

  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty

Beth joined The Zebra in 2022 as an Associate Content Strategist. She is a licensed insurance agent whose goal is to make insurance content easy to r…

Is it possible to get temporary car insurance?

Most insurers do not offer short-term auto insurance and usually require six-month or 12-month policy terms. Be cautious of companies promoting daily, weekly, or monthly insurance, as they may not provide sufficient coverage or customer service.

Additionally, The Zebra usually recommends against buying and then canceling your regular policy mid-term due to potential consequences like early termination fees or coverage gaps, especially in the first 30 days

Licensed insurance professional Richard Chavez
Agent insight:

"It's important to maintain some level of car insurance even if you drive occasionally or don't have a car. If there's a lapse in coverage or you eventually have to drive more, you'll lose continuous insurance discounts and have to pay higher premiums"

Richard Chavez — Licensed insurance professional at The Zebra

Fortunately, there are safe and relatively affordable alternatives for those seeking temporary coverage. Keep reading to explore which of these best suits your needs.

How to get car insurance for a short time

While major insurance companies typically don't provide temporary car insurance policies, there are affordable options available. Usage-based, non-owner, or "parked car" insurance, being added to another driver's policy or using their vehicle under "permissive use", rental company insurance, or asking about "Student Away From Home" discounts are some of them.

The best choice for short-term auto insurance depends on the nuances of your unique circumstances. Use the following steps to make the decision process easier:

  1. Identify Your Situation: Match your specific needs with the scenarios provided below.
  2. Evaluate Options: In the section after, expand relevant blocks to compare the pros and cons of the suggested options for your scenario.
  3. Choose the best option for you: Remember that if you need further guidance, you can speak with one of our licensed agents at 1-888-255-4364.
You don't drive your car very often
You occasionally borrow a car (moving, babysitting, etc.)
You frequently borrow a car you don't own
You have a student away from home
You occasionally use a rental car
  • Take advantage of the rental company’s insurance offerings
You're a foreign driver visiting the U.S. for a short time
  • Use a rental company's insurance options
  • Cancel a regular policy before the term ends

More information about foreign drivers in the US.

Zebra answering temporary insurance question

Q: Why do most insurance companies not offer daily, weekly, or monthly policies?

A: Most insurance companies don't offer short-term policies because the premiums they collect from an extremely short-term car insurance policy aren't worth the insurer's administrative costs.

Additionally, short-term clients are less likely to renew. Long-term clients offer insurers stable revenue through policy renewals, reduced customer acquisition costs, and more accurate risk assessment.

For more information on common car insurance policy term lengths, see our article 12-Month vs. Six-Month Car Insurance.

Understanding each temporary car insurance option

Expand each section to better understand the nuances, pros, and cons, of each of the previously mentioned short-term car insurance options.

Pros and cons of usage-based insurance

  • Cost-effective for low-mileage drivers

  • Offers more flexibility than traditional policies

  • Typically fewer coverage options

  • Some may be wary of sharing driving data via apps or plug-ins

Usage-based auto insurance premiums are priced based on your driving behavior, usually a monthly base rate plus a per-mile rate times the number of miles driven each month. While these car insurance policies are offered in six-month increments, usage-based insurance could be a great alternative to a standard auto policy, especially if you are among the 58% of visitors to this page who drive less than 7,500 miles per year.

Please note that there are newer companies, such as Hugo and Veygo, that claim to offer some form of "temporary insurance." However, we recommend against them as they tend to offer limited coverage, can create gaps in coverage, operate in a grey legal area, and are innately more likely to lead to a lapse in your insurance history which could lead to substantial rate hikes. 

Note: Usage-based auto insurance is different from telematics, which tracks driving behaviors like speed and breaking. Learn more about telematics here.


Top Pay-Per-Mile Programs

Company Best For Availability
Metromile Pure pay-per-mile coverage AZ, CA, IL, NJ, OR, PA, VA, WA
Nationwide SmartMiles Safe drivers All states except AK, HI, LA, NC, NY, OK
Allstate Milewise Consistent app-to-site experience AZ, DE, FL, ID, IL, IN, MD, MA, MN, MO, NJ, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, TX, VA, WA, WV, WI
Mile Auto Privacy-conscious drivers AZ, CA, FL, GA, IL, OH, OR, PA, TN, TX, WI
Noblr Tech-savvy drivers AZ, CO, LA, MD, NM, OH, PA, TX, VA

Pros and cons of non-owner car insurance

  • Usually cheaper than traditional policies if your record is clean

  • Allows you to avoid coverage gaps (especially important if you frequently borrow friends' cars)

  • Prevents car insurance history gaps

  • Fulfills state insurance requirements

  • Only provides liability coverage, not full coverage

    Not available from every insurer

  • Not available from every insurer

  • Any vehicles you own won't be covered

One way to maintain car insurance affordably is to look into a non-owner car insurance policy. Non-owner auto insurance allows you to have continuous coverage without having to own a vehicle. Because dropping coverage can lead to higher rates once you need insurance again, non-owner policies can be a better option than going without insurance. Most insurers offer non-owner car insurance quotes

Non-owner policies are a good option for drivers with an SR-22, allowing them to meet legal requirements even without owning a car. An SR-22 is not an insurance policy, but a form that verifies to your state that you are carrying car insurance. It is often used to make sure drivers adhere to state mandates after a severe traffic infraction.
Give us a call at 1-888-444-2833 to get spam-free non-owners quotes.

Pros and cons of being insured through a permissive users' clause

  • Free for the permissive user

  • Convenience factors

  • No control of policy coverage levels

  • Increased risk to the policyholder

  • Potential coverage gaps

  • Restrictions on how often you can use the policyholder's car

Borrowing a friend or family member's car is a convenient option as long as they expressly permit you and their insurance allows. Be cautious, though, a collision or incident can lead to higher rates for them in the future, even if insurance covers the immediate damages.

If the borrowed car belongs to an immediate family member with an existing policy, you should be covered so long you are a named driver on their policy. 

shield with a question mark
What is permissive use?

Permissive use auto insurance allows infrequent use of a vehicle — fewer than 12 times per year — by a driver who does not live at the same address as the policyholder. This is a feature of many standard car insurance policies with larger companies, but always double-check your policy's permissive use standards. 

Pros and cons of adding a driver temporarily to another's policy

  • Adding a driver above the age of 25 with a good driving record can cost as little as $100-$200

  • You will be completely covered

  • Increased risk to the policyholder

  • Your history may affect the policyholder's coverage availability

  • Potential coverage gaps depend upon the coverage levels chosen by the policyholder

  • Once removed from the policy, you must be added to another to prevent a gap in coverage 

Note: Adding a teen or young adult driver is usually pricier than adding a driver in their mid-20s or older but often more affordable than them getting a separate policy.

If you have an existing policy and want to insure a driver for just a short period, consider adding that person as a driver on your policy and then removing them when they are no longer operating the vehicle. This option is dependent on the cost of this driver, the amount of time needed to be covered, and the risk they pose as a driver operating your vehicle, so it's important to consider these factors when choosing this method. If you're adding a driver to a policy that already exists, check out our list of documents that are important to have on hand

Pros and cons of car storage insurance

  • Can be up to 80% cheaper than traditional insurance

  • Keep only the relevant coverage

  • Avoids higher insurance costs as you maintain continuous coverage

  • Loaned/leased vehicles may need additional coverage

  • Vehicles parked on a public road are sometimes required to keep the state's liability limits

  • You must reactivate your standard insurance if you choose to drive it again

This option works best for those who own cars that they do not actively drive. As noted by licensed insurance advisor Deanna Gudgin-Jones, "Even if you are someone who does not drive your vehicle often, you are still at risk for getting hit even if it's parked. Another driver could back into you and drive off. Is that something you could pay out of pocket for damages?"

Car storage insurance or “parked car insurance” is oftentimes a much better solution than canceling your policy altogether. It significantly lowers your rates while still protecting your vehicle while it’s not in use. 

Pros and cons of insurance through a car rental company

  • The convenience of having it added when you pick up your vehicle

  • Immediate coverage

  • Claims made on rental car insurance typically don't affect your insurance record

  • If you frequently rent cars, this can become pricier than if you had a traditional policy

  • Doesn't bridge gaps in your insurance history

If you rent a car, some rental companies may offer rental insurance. The portion that covers damage to the rental vehicle is commonly known as a loss damage — or collision damage — waiver. Supplementary liability covers damage to others that you might cause. At a minimum, purchase liability coverage through the rental car company if you don't have a policy of your own. Some credit cards also provide coverage for rental cars, as do several companies such as Bonzah and Rental Cover.

Read more about insuring rental cars here

Pros and cons of a "student away from home" discount

  • Cost savings (up to 30%)

  • Allows students to maintain coverage

  • Often requires proof of enrollment more than 100 miles away

  • Often restricts when a student can driver (typically only on breaks and holidays)

Parents of college students should check with their insurers for 'student away from home' discounts, applicable for students driving only during breaks. To qualify for this discount, students typically need to provide proof of enrollment at an educational institution and demonstrate that they are living away from their home address. 

Need to be insured ASAP?

friendly insurance agent
Discuss your options with one of our friendly agents at 1-888-255-4364

Understanding the risks and limitations of short-term car insurance

Drivers are legally required to carry auto insurance in almost every U.S. state, and the short-term coverage options listed above do not always offer the appropriate protection. When you run the risk of getting into an accident without proper protection, you are likely to pay for damages out of pocket. Read on to learn more about what else to consider when looking for a temporary car insurance solution.


Legal and lender implications

  • Mandatory Insurance Laws: Unless you live in New Hampshire, you're required by law to carry at least the legal liability coverage limit to operate or register a vehicle. Depending upon the circumstances and state, if you’re caught driving without insurance, you may be fined, lose your license, or even be imprisoned.
  • Lender Requirements: If you’re financing or leasing a vehicle, lenders typically require you to carry state-minimum coverage as well as comprehensive and collision coverage not available in a short-term capacity (see Coverage Activation Delays below).


Policy coverage and financial implications

  • Early Policy Cancellation Costs: Canceling a policy early can mean losing part of your down payment, which usually covers 30 to 45 days of the premium. Additionally, some insurers charge substantial cancellation fees.
  • Wait Time for Full Coverage: To prevent fraudulent claims for pre-existing damage, most policies won't let you use collision and comprehensive coverage for the first 30 days. So, if you plan to be insured for only a couple of weeks, you won't be able to make use of these two coverage types.


Other financial risks

  • Accident Risks: Without adequate insurance, drivers can face potential lawsuits and out-of-pocket costs for hit-and-run incidents. These risks become even greater if you don't have a consistent insurance situation. For example, if you are in an accident in a friend's car and have exceeded the number of trips specified by their policy for permissive use, you likely wouldn't be covered.
  • Rate Hikes: Insurers typically seek customers with a history of continuous coverage. Short-term policies can create coverage gaps, perceived as high-risk by insurers. Gaps in insurance history raise premiums by nearly $15 per month.

Temporary car insurance FAQs

Typically, the shortest car insurance policies are available in a six-month term. You could potentially get a six-month policy and cancel it early, but risk incurring additional fees.

The short answer is no. An exception could be rental car coverage, storage coverage or one of the other scenarios we've mentioned in the above article. Reputable insurers generally require a six-month policy, but there are some options for pay-per-mile car insurance that might meet your needs and are legitimate.

You may see advertisements for daily, weekly or monthly car insurance policies, but these are typically scams and should not be trusted. Major insurance companies only offer policies in six or 12-month policy terms. One option that would work for this is to start up a regular policy and cancel it after it is no longer needed. Insurance companies will refund unused premiums if you paid for more time than you used.

If you are heading out on a road trip, your standard car insurance coverage would apply from one state to another. Even if you only carry the bare minimum of liability coverage, your limits are automatically raised to meet those of the state you are currently in. For instance, if you travel from a state like California, with lower limits (15/30/5), to Nevada, with higher limits (25/50/20), your limits are automatically raised to Nevada’s at no extra cost. Your limits will never decrease, meaning you will always carry at least the minimum liability protection required by your state.

Protect your car with the right coverage at the best value.

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About The Zebra

The Zebra is not an insurance company. We publish data-backed, expert-reviewed resources to help consumers make more informed insurance decisions.

  • The Zebra’s insurance content is written and reviewed for accuracy by licensed insurance agents.
  • The Zebra’s insurance editorial content is not subject to review or alteration by insurance companies or partners.
  • The Zebra’s editorial team operates independently of the company’s partnerships and commercialization interests, publishing unbiased information for consumer benefit.
  • The auto insurance rates published on The Zebra’s pages are based on a comprehensive analysis of car insurance pricing data, evaluating more than 83 million insurance rates from across the United States.