Everything You Need to Know About Short-Term Auto Insurance

Short-term auto insurance

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Short-term auto insurance covers drivers in special situations. Even regular auto insurance policyholders might sometimes need additional short-term auto insurance, depending on the circumstances.

Short-Term Auto Insurance: What It Is and When You Need It

Short-term auto insurance, also called temporary car insurance, is coverage that lasts between one and 28 days, depending on your needs. There are subcategories of short-term insurance, too, including rental car insurance and non-owners insurance.

If you’re going to drive a car frequently, a regular long-term policy is almost always your best bet, but there are a few instances when a short-term insurance policy is more appropriate, including:

  • As a holdover while shopping for the right long-term policy (after a policy expiration or when you need to change carriers)
  • Insuring yourself to drive someone else’s vehicle (or insuring someone else to drive yours) for a one-time event like borrowing a friend’s car for the weekend, or letting someone use your pickup truck to move
  • Coverage for other drivers while offering test-drives for a car you’re selling
  • Immediate insurance if you’ve just bought a car

Short-term auto insurance

Other Forms of Short-Term Insurance

Rental car coverage is a type of short-term insurance and is most often available through rental companies. If you decided not to purchase additional coverage at the rental counter, make sure you’re covered either through your own insurance policy or by another source, like a credit card. As Hunt Ethridge from Jersey City, New Jersey illustrates, rental car coverage can really save the day:

On a recent trip with his wife, Ethridge said he was happy he had short-term coverage for his rental car. One morning when he and his wife went out to their car, the bumper was hanging off (Ethridge tied it up). Later in the day, the couple scraped the wheel well and door on a stone wall, denting both, then they clipped their side mirror on a parked car while navigating a narrow road. And the icing on the cake: their window got stuck open on a rainy, chilly day. Ethridge said once they got to their hotel at the end of the day, they called the rental company who drove another car to them, left it in the parking lot, and took their car away—no questions asked. All because they had short-term insurance coverage.

A non-owners insurance policy can be good short-term coverage for people who will have gaps in their car ownership but want to avoid lapses in their auto insurance coverage. Quoted’s insurance expert Jeff Medina explains that auto insurance companies tend to provide better rates for customers with continuous coverage, and any gaps (even gaps wherein you weren’t driving or didn’t own a car) could lead to higher rates when you do decide to purchase an insurance policy.

Important to note: don’t cancel insurance with one carrier until you have purchased insurance with another one.

short-term auto insurance

GAP Insurance: Sounds Related, But Isn’t

GAP stands for Guaranteed Auto Protection, and is coverage for situations in which you owe more money on a newly purchased or leased vehicle than your insurance policy would cover in the event of a total loss. GAP insurance has nothing to do with gaps in time when you might need to be covered by short-term insurance, even if it sounds like it should.

Requirements for a Short-Term Policy:

  • A valid driver’s license
  • Name and address of the registered vehicle owner (that is, if it’s not you)
  • The owner’s insurance carrier

Most drivers in good standing who haven’t made a lot of auto insurance claims and are between the ages of 21 and 75 should be eligible for short-term policies.

How Much Does Short-Term Auto Insurance Cost?

Temporary insurance policies vary in both price and coverage, just like traditional policies. If you’re driving an expensive car, or you’d want coverage for repairs to the car, you probably need more than basic coverage. For more info, check out our car insurance buying guide. Actual short-term policy prices will differ depending on who the insurer is and what your needs are, but Medina says short-term policies tend to be less expensive across the board.

A little time and a few dollars securing a short-term policy could save a lot of expense.

Short-term insurance is something that’s easy to overlook, but if you end up in a sticky situation, it can be very helpful. Remember that every time you make a claim with your carrier, your rates are likely to go up, and too many claims can even make you ineligible for affordable auto insurance.

Consider this: you let your buddy borrow your properly-insured car for the weekend and he crashes it. Repairs (and any injuries) will be covered by your policy, however, you’ll be on the hook for deductibles, any expenses not covered by your insurance, and of course you’ll end up paying increased premiums for the foreseeable future.

A little time securing a short-term policy, and a few dollars paying for it, could save a lot of expense in the event of a crash. Many major carriers offer short-term insurance options. Call The Zebra at 888-255-4364 to find out more.