car insurance
car insurance

What Is Short-Term Car Insurance?

Essentially, a short-term car insurance policy is insurance you buy for a brief amount of time. Auto insurance providers typically sell policies in six-month or one-year increments. Temporary insurance would allow you to cover your car for a shorter period of time.

There are several scenarios in which short-term car insurance could be useful, such as:

  • You plan to sell your car within the next few months.
  • You want to rent a car on your next vacation.
  • Your child is away at school most of the year without a car.
  • You plan to visit the U.S. for a short period of time.
  • You plan to borrow your friend’s car for a trip.

Can You Buy This Insurance?

Technically, most reputable providers don’t sell temporary auto insurance. If you do see short-term car insurance advertised, it could be a scam. It may also be an attempt to draw you into a website and sell you a standard insurance policy.

How To Get Short-Term Car Insurance

Just because most providers don’t offer a product labeled “short-term coverage” doesn’t mean you have no options. Quality providers may offer several ways to take care of your need for a temporary insurance policy. Here are some options you may have:

1. Buy Your Policy And Cancel It

The most direct way to get short-term car insurance is to buy a normal policy and then cancel it when you no longer need coverage. You don’t need to tell the insurer at the time of purchase that you plan to cancel. If you pay the full premium up front, you’ll generally get a prorated refund when you cancel.

Some providers charge a cancellation fee for terminating your policy early, but many don’t. If you’re looking for temporary insurance, check whether an insurer charges a fee. If it does, factor that fee into the total cost of coverage when you compare providers.

2. Use The Rental Car Company’s Insurance

If all you need is rental car insurance, you can get it from rental car companies. The types and amounts of coverage vary, but every policy should cover at least the minimum requirements for the state where you rent the vehicle.

Drivers who want more coverage than what a standard rental policy offers can typically buy it at the rental counter. In addition to higher coverage limits, you may be able to get add-ons like roadside assistance.

3. Get Non-Owner Car Insurance

Many insurers sell non-owners insurance policies that cover you while you drive a car that isn’t yours. This can include company cars, rideshare and carshare vehicles, and those owned by family members and friends.

Non-owner policies are often much cheaper than owner insurance policies. However, that’s largely because they usually only cover property damage and injury liability claims. The car owner’s existing policy would pay for other claims depending on what types of coverage they have.

4. Use Specialized Discounts

Some people need temporary coverage because they don’t regularly have access to their vehicles. This can include college students who leave their cars at home and active-duty military members.

For many of these drivers, insurers offer specialized discounts that can reduce the cost of a policy. Some providers, for example, offer discounts for students away at school. Others give discounts for military members. Some insurers even offer lower premiums just for agreeing to a regular storage period.

The best way to learn about these discounts is to speak to an insurance agent. They may even know about savings opportunities that aren’t listed on the company’s website.

5. Try Usage-Based Insurance

Rather than setting a flat rate, usage-based insurance policies charge you based on how much you drive. Some may also charge based on telematics data collected from devices or phone apps that monitor your driving habits.

If you don’t drive very much, a pay-per-mile car insurance policy could be significantly cheaper than a standard one. However, this type of usage-based coverage could end up costing more if you drive more often than you planned.

Additionally, many usage-based programs take safety into account when monitoring your driving habits. If you’re prone to driving late at night or speeding, think seriously about whether one of these programs is a good option for you.

What Does It Cover?

What a temporary car insurance policy covers can vary depending on the type of policy you buy. The length of your coverage may be different, but these policies will basically cover the same things as standard car insurance policies.

Short-term car insurance can include the following coverages:

  • Bodily injury liability coverage: Covers medical expenses and lost wages for other parties in an accident you’re found at fault for
  • Property damage liability coverage: Covers the cost of damages to other vehicles and property when you’re found at fault for an accident
  • Personal injury protection (PIP): Covers medical expenses and lost wages for you and your party no matter who’s found at fault for an accident
  • Medical payments coverage (MedPay): Covers medical costs (but not lost wages) for you and others in your party no matter who caused an accident
  • Collision coverage: Covers damages to your vehicle and property in a covered loss regardless of who’s found at fault
  • Comprehensive insurance: Covers damages to your vehicle from sources other than accidents, such as vandalism, theft, or natural disasters
  • Underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage: Covers your medical expenses and damages if an at-fault driver doesn’t have enough (or any) insurance to cover you

Additional Coverage Options

Auto insurance companies also offer add-ons that cover other expenses related to owning and driving a vehicle. When you shop for car insurance, consider putting these coverages on your auto insurance policy, whether you intend to use them for the full term of your contract or not.

  • Roadside assistance: Covers emergency roadside services like fuel delivery, tire repair, and towing
  • Classic car insurance: Covers classic, exotic, or otherwise rare and expensive vehicles that standard policies might not
  • Rental car reimbursement: Covers the cost of a rental vehicle if yours is being repaired after a covered loss or is totaled
  • Mechanical breakdown insurance: Covers mechanical repairs similar to an extended car warranty
  • Rideshare insurance: Covers you for times when you’re using your car while working for a ridesharing company but not while you’re carrying a passenger

How Much Does Short-Term It Cost?

The cost of short-term car insurance mostly depends on which type of policy you buy and how long you keep it. However, your insurance premium will vary from other drivers’ premiums even with the same type of coverage.

Factors That Affect The Cost of This Insurance

The cost of car insurance coverage depends on several variables whether you need short-term coverage or a standard term. These factors have the greatest impact on how much your car insurance will cost:

  • Age: Younger drivers (especially teens) usually pay far higher auto insurance rates than older drivers. Some people may see rates start to rise again around their mid 60s.
  • Gender on license: In many states, young male drivers might pay more for auto policies than same-age female drivers.
  • Driving record: At-fault accidents or traffic violations on your record will typically result in a higher premium. People with clean driving records often get the lowest rates.
  • Coverage limits:The types and amounts of coverage you have are major factors in your premiums.
  • Deductible: Your policy deductible is what you pay out of pocket for repairs or a total loss. The lower you set your deductible, the more you can expect to pay for coverage.
  • Credit score: Drivers with lower credit scores typically pay higher rates unless they’re in states that don’t allow credit to be factored into auto insurance prices.
  • Location: Rates vary between states and within them based on local risk factors. Densely populated cities with higher rates of theft and car crashes tend to have higher insurance costs, for example.
  • Marital status: Married policyholders tend to pay less for insurance than single ones.
  • Fees: Cancellation fees or similar costs should be considered part of your premium if you plan to cancel your policy early.

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