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Ross Martin

Manager, Content Quality

  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty

Ross joined The Zebra as a writer and researcher in 2019. As a licensed insurance agent, he specializes in writing insurance content to help shoppers…

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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?

In general, major insurance companies will not issue a temporary auto insurance policy. Most companies require a policy term of at least six months and sometimes even a year. You may come across insurance companies advertising short-term coverage, but be warned: these companies may fall short on coverage and customer service. 

If you want a car insurance policy for less than six months, you would need to cancel your standard auto insurance policy mid-term. This is not recommended, as it comes with its own consequences, including an early termination fee in some cases. However, there are ways to obtain temporary insurance coverage outside of the typical six or 12-month policy period structure.

Read on to learn whether these options might work for you.

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Safe and legal ways to get car insurance for a short time

Though temporary car insurance is not something major insurance companies offer, there are a few ways to get affordable coverage. The best way for you to attain temporary auto insurance depends upon the nuances of your individual circumstances. Check out the scenarios below to find what will be your best bet for short-term car insurance for your particular situation.

You don't drive your car very often
You occasionally borrow a car (moving, babysitting, etc.)
You have a student away from home
You occasionally use a rental car
  • Take advantage of the rental company’s insurance offerings
You frequently use or borrow a car you don't own
You're a foreign driver visiting the U.S. for a short time
  • Take advantage of a rental company's insurance options
  • Cancel a regular policy before the term ends
  • More information about foreign drivers in the U.S.

Usage-based car insurance

Usage-based auto insurance premiums are priced based on your driving behavior. 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 drive infrequently. Those who are safe and infrequent drivers can get a considerable discount from having such a policy. 

Like popular usage-based insurance companies such as Root, Noblr and Metromile, almost every top car insurance company offers telematics tools along with their insurance policies. Here are a few that you may be familiar with already, or which might be worth looking into to save based on your driving.

Telematics program Estimated savings
Progressive Snapshot Average of $130
Allstate Drivewise Average of 10-25%
State Farm Drive Safe & Save Up to 15%
Esurance DriveSense Varies
Nationwide SmartRide Up to 40%
Liberty Mutual RightTrack Average of 5-30%
GEICO DriveEasy Varies

Non-owner car insurance

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.

Take advantage of your permissive users' clause

Borrowing a friend's or family member's vehicle for a short period of time is a low-risk way to drive without purchasing a long-term auto insurance policy, as long as you confirm their existing policy allows permissive drivers.

If your acquaintance's policy covers you, be careful: 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. 

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 policies permissive use standards. 

Read more about permissive use car insurance.

Add a driver temporarily to your policy

If you have an existing policy and want to insure a driver for just a short period of time, 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 take these factors into consideration 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.  


Zebra tip: Use the "student away from home" discount

Families with students who don't drive while they're away at school should talk to their insurance companies about “student away from home” discounts if they are only driving on breaks. In most cases, your student will have to be attending college more than 100 miles away and only occasionally drive your vehicle to be eligible. Further eligibility factors may vary by company.

Other ways to obtain temporary car insurance

Car storage insurance

This option works best for cars that aren’t actively being driven but still require some level of protection. Car storage insurance or “parked car insurance” is oftentimes a much better solution than canceling your policy altogether. This method can significantly lower your rates while still protecting your vehicle while it’s not in use. 

Rental company's insurance
Rental company's insurance

If you rent a car, you should be able to adapt the insurance coverage to fit your needs. At a minimum, purchase liability coverage through the rental car company if you don't have a policy of your own. 

Find affordable insurance today — compare quotes online for free.

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The downsides of short-term auto insurance policies

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 the shortfalls of short-term car insurance. 

pros and cons

Most insurance companies do not sell temporary car insurance

  • Most insurance companies offer two policy term lengths: six months and 12 months.
  • An insurance company wants to keep its clients for as long as possible. Drivers who only want to carry insurance for a short period of time aren't likely to renew, making them less-than-ideal customers.
  • The premium an insurance company collects from an extremely short-term car insurance policy isn't worth the insurer's administrative costs.

For more information on common car insurance policy term lengths, see our article discussing annual vs. six-month car insurance policies.

You could lose your down payment with a temporary insurance policy duration

  • While it varies by company, most policies require a down payment worth 30 to 45 days of the total premium. If you cancel five days into your policy period, you’re not always guaranteed to recoup your entire down payment. 
  • Drivers thinking that a short-term policy could help them save money could find that this simply isn't the case. Be aware that some insurance companies also assess cancellation fees.

You can’t use the coverage immediately if you opt for short-term insurance coverage

  • Most companies have a grace period rule for car insurance coverage. Many insurance companies limit the use of collision and comprehensive coverage within 30 days of a policy's inception.
  • If you only want an insurance policy for two weeks, you could be ineligible for certain coverage options during this window.

Insurance is a legal requirement in most states

  • 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. If you’re caught driving without insurance, your license can be suspended.
  • If you’re leasing or financing a vehicle, your lender will usually require you to carry state-minimum coverage, as well as comprehensive and collision — and certainly not in a short-term capacity. If your lender discovers you’re driving without insurance, you may risk getting your vehicle repossessed.


Temporary car insurance will leave gaps in your coverage

  • Many insurance companies look for at least six months of prior continuous coverage before taking on a customer. If a driver has held an active license but failed to maintain insurance coverage, the insurer may assume the applicant was driving without insurance, an indicator of a high-risk client.
  • Gaps in insurance history can raise premiums by nearly $15 per month.

You won't have coverage in the event of a collision

  • If your solution for temporary insurance has run past its deadline and you have not ensured a more permanent form of coverage, you are at risk of driving unprotected.
  • If you're found at fault in a collision but don't have insurance, you may be ticketed, have your driver's license suspended, and potentially be sued for the property or bodily injury damages you cause.
  • If you’re the victim of a hit-and-run accident, you won’t have any coverage. Any property damage to your vehicle would be paid out-of-pocket.

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.

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 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.