All About Temporary Car Insurance

Most insurance companies won’t offer policies for shorter than six months, but other options, like pay-per-mile and non-owners policies are available.
Written by Liz Jenson
Edited by Kianna Walpole
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There is no such thing as “temporary car insurance.” Most policies come in 6- and 12-month terms. The right type of temporary
car insurance
for you will depend on your situation. Temporary insurance options like pay-per-mile insurance or non-owner insurance may be a better fit. 

There isn’t a one-type-fits-all solution for temporary insurance

Temporary auto insurance doesn’t really exist. However, there are options if you need limited coverage for a specific reason, such as when buying or borrowing a vehicle. 
Depending on your reasoning for choosing short-term car insurance, there are several different types of insurance coverage to choose from.

If you’re buying a car

When you purchase a new vehicle, your dealership may offer you a short-term policy to cover you on the drive home from the lot. This type of temporary coverage will usually last for about 28 days, giving you enough time to find a new policy for your new vehicle.
While this might seem convenient at the time, dealership insurance is rarely worth it. It often comes with higher car insurance rates than a standard car insurance policy with another provider, and you’ll get less coverage, too. 
To avoid these types of policies, it’s best to
shop for car insurance before purchasing your new vehicle
. On average, drivers in the US pay $121/month for car insurance, but with these providers, you may be able to find cheaper rates for your new vehicle. 
Insurance company
Minimum coverage cost
Full coverage cost
$66
$130
$57
$140
$74
$146
$61
$155
$79
$178
$70
$165
$52
$162
$59
$141
Finding early or
same-day car insurance
quotes is easier than you might think—especially when you use a car insurance broker like
Jerry
. Once you create your account, you can pull quotes from dozens of insurers in your area, all tailored to your driver profile. The entire process, from quoting to securing a policy, takes approximately one to two hours.
Buying a new car is exciting—but not as exciting as car insurance.
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If you’re renting your car

Rental car insurance will usually be offered through the rental car company of your choice and will cover you for the extent of your rental period. The average cost for this type of coverage is between $10-$16 per day, but this rate can differ based on your rental agency. 
Rental car insurance is usually a lot more expensive than standard or
non-owner insurance
, but it’s a good option for drivers who don’t have their own policy. 

If you don’t drive often

Some drivers are on the road for less than 10,000 miles per year and find that a full coverage policy isn’t worth it. With pay-per-mile insurance, also known as usage-based, or pay-as-you-go, insurance, you can save money while maintaining continuous coverage.
As the name suggests, pay-per-mile insurance involves a very low base insurance rate with additional surcharges calculated by the mile. Assuming you’re driving less than 10,000 miles per year, this type of coverage can be much cheaper than a standard policy—and several providers offer it, including
Allstate
,
Nationwide
, Metromile, and Mile Auto.

If you borrow or share cars regularly

Non-owner car insurance policies provide
bodily injury liability
and
property damage liability
coverages, which are required in most states. Some non-owner policies offer additional
types of coverage
, too, such as
uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM)
or
personal injury protection (PIP)
If you’re regularly renting cars, this type of insurance could also be a good option. However, it’s important to remember that non-owner car insurance options are secondary policies, meaning they only kick in once the vehicle owner’s insurance has paid out to its coverage limit. For rental cars, that means a collision damage waiver (CDW) is still a good idea.

If you regularly borrow a specific car

You should be added to the owner’s policy as a named driver.
While
borrowing a family member or friend’s car
occasionally is covered under permissive use, regular use of another person’s vehicle necessitates some changes in their car insurance. You should be added to someone’s policy if you drive their car often (think every week or so), or if you have your driver’s license and live with someone who has a car.
Doing this will ensure you’re covered any time you drive your friend’s car, but it could also raise their insurance rates—especially if you’re considered a
high-risk driver
with a poor driving record. 
When adding yourself to another driver’s policy, it’s important to compare quotes among providers beforehand to ensure you find the best deal. Here’s a look at how adding a single driver can change a monthly premium with some of the top providers:
Insurance company
Average policy cost
Cost with added driver
Total increase (%)
$160
$240
50%
$98
$142
45%
$167
$180
8%
$123
$150
22%
$100
$164
64%
$108
$165
53%
$129
$185
43%
$110
$181
65%
$100
$148
48%

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With the Jerry app, drivers can also easily add and remove drivers from their policy to see the changes in their premiums. Keep in mind that the quotes provided will be based on both of your driver profiles.
Looking to join another driver’s policy? Find lower rates with Jerry.
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If you borrow cars from others occasionally

There’s no need to worry because you’re already covered!
If you borrow a car from a family member or friend occasionally with their permission, you’ll usually be covered under permissive use. This means that their car insurance policy will extend to you in the event of an accident, covering any damages or injuries. 

What does temporary car insurance cover?

Since temporary car insurance doesn’t really exist, you’ll need to turn to other plan options that may offer differing amounts of coverage. 
In general, your car insurance should include at least the state minimum required
liability car insurance
plus any additional types of coverage required in your state (such as PIP or UM/UIM). 
All policies should include any state-mandated coverage if you plan to drive, as it’s illegal to drive a car without the state minimum required insurance. Otherwise, coverage levels for short-term policies will often be left up to you.
The exception is short-term insurance policies purchased from a dealership for a new car. These insurance plans will usually also include comprehensive insurance and collision insurance. Both of these coverage options are designed to pay for damages to your vehicle resulting from a collision, natural disaster, vandalism, and more. 
Some policies also include
gap insurance
, which covers the difference between your loan and the actual cash value (ACV) of your vehicle after a crash.

Military members and other non-frequent drivers

If there are periods throughout the year when you know you won’t need to drive, you’re best off choosing a standard policy with adjustable limits. Many insurers will allow you to lower your physical damage coverage levels during certain parts of the year, as long as you can prove you won’t be driving during that time period. 
This type of adjustment to your policy could be helpful for:
  • Snowbirds: If you don’t need to drive during the winter months, ask to drop
    collision coverage
    while you’re gone. Keep your state-required liability coverage and
    comprehensive coverage insurance
    so that you’re protected if your vehicle suffers damages from things like vandalism, natural disasters, or theft.
  • Parents of college-age students: If your college student only drives for a short time when they’re on a break from school, ask your insurance provider if they offer “away at school” options for your policy. This will drive insurance costs down while still ensuring that your child is covered during seasonal breaks.
  • Military members: If your only driving time is between deployments, try to find a provider that offers a military storage plan like
    USAA
    or
    GEICO
    . With this type of insurance, you’ll pay a lower rate while your vehicle is stored and unused, but you’ll be able to restore your normal coverage when you’re home and using your car. This coverage is a comprehensive-only plan. However, it’s important to note that to avoid a lapse in liability coverage, you may be required to surrender your license plates.
If you’re considering adjusting your car insurance, you can find affordable standard policies that offer tailored coverage levels in a matter of minutes by using the
Jerry
app. Jerry can help you compare personalized quotes from multiple top insurance providers in a matter of minutes. If you find a better deal, Jerry can even help you cancel your old policy and sign up for your new one.
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Purchasing a policy then canceling is not the best option

If you can, avoid getting a standard policy with early cancellation. You absolutely can buy a six-month policy or 12-month insurance policy and cancel it early, but we don’t recommend it. Here are a few reasons why:
  • Your policy could lapse: If you cancel your auto policy early and don’t purchase a new one, it’s considered
    a car insurance lapse
    . Being uninsured for any period of time is a huge red flag to car insurance companies and, as a result, your insurance premiums will be higher the next time you buy.
  • You could be refused coverage: If you buy and cancel policies too often, insurance companies might start refusing you coverage. Depending on how often you do this, it could even be considered insurance fraud!
  • You could face cancellation fees: Some insurance companies will charge you cancellation fees for terminating your policy early. In other cases, you might forfeit the down payment on your policy by canceling early.
  • You may not be fully covered: Some insurance providers offer limited coverage for a period of time at the beginning of your policy, so you won’t be fully covered if you’re in an accident shortly after getting your new policy.

Is temporary car insurance ever a good idea?

In a few select circumstances, a short-term car insurance policy can be helpful—particularly if you aren’t concerned about things like insurance lapses or cancellations on your insurance record. These circumstances include buying a car that you plan to sell again soon or visiting the United States and needing to meet insurance requirements short-term. 
Even in these cases, be sure to research your potential provider and get insurance quotes from multiple companies before choosing the right insurance for you.

FAQ

Is temporary car insurance legit?

Temporary car insurance doesn’t technically exist. The shortest legitimate term that insurers will offer coverage for is six months. If auto insurance companies offer you policies for a duration of less than six months, it’s likely a scam.

Can you get monthly car insurance?

While you might see ads for monthly car insurance or even one-day car insurance from time to time, these are usually a scam. Most major insurers won’t offer standard insurance coverage for any less than six months.

What is the shortest term for car insurance?

Most insurance companies offer car insurance for six-month periods at the very least. While you can generally secure specialized month-long coverage for newly leased vehicles, standard car insurance won’t be available for a shorter term.

How long can you use temporary car insurance for?

The shortest car insurance policy term period is six months but, although we don’t recommend it, you can technically cancel your policy at any time. More specialized policies (like those offered to drivers who are leasing or renting a vehicle) may last as little as a few days, but these won’t be available outside of special circumstances.

Meet our experts

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Liz Jenson
Liz Jenson is an insurance writer who specializes in general automotive and insurance topics. Liz’s mission is to produce informative and useful content to help car owners make smart choices when buying cars and car insurance. Since joining Jerry in 2021, Liz has written nearly 4,000 long- and short-form articles on topics including state-specific insurance recommendations, common car insurance questions, and deep dives into vehicle model details.
Before they came to Jerry, Liz was a full-time student at Indiana University, Bloomington working on a double major in English and French.
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Kianna Walpole
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Expert Insurance Writer & Editor
Kianna Walpole is an insurance writer and editor with a comprehensive background in consumer behavior and online publishing. With experience in car insurance, maintenance, and repair, she is dedicated to building informative content that helps customers reduce costs while achieving the best service. Prior to joining the Jerry editorial team, Kianna worked as a junior editor in the content marketing industry, using consumer data and key insights to create and edit content for an array of large-scale clients in the real estate, cybersecurity, and healthcare industries.

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