What Is Short-Term Car Insurance?

2017 Safest Cars
2017 Safest Cars

I was asked this question via email recently and thought it was worth writing about. This one is fun because most people assume it’s for rental cars. Because I’m not an insurance guy myself, I did have to do some research and ask my friendly agent about it. It turns out, short-term car insurance (also called “temporary car insurance”) is an unusual, but useful thing.

There are a lot of reasons someone might need to get some short-term car insurance.

  • Maybe you’re visiting a country for a few days or couple of weeks and intend to buy a car to drive while there. Don’t scoff, it can often be cheaper to purchase and resell a car than to rent one. There are agencies just for that purpose, in fact.
  • Those using a ride share for a vehicle that doesn’t include insurance for the vehicle might need short-term insurance for the car. Those who use a ride share that includes insurance might want to add their own as well for extra protection.
  • Those who don’t have a car, but don’t want the negative “uninsured” mark on their record might consider short-term insurance.
  • To add additional liability coverage on a rental, temporary loaner, or other vehicle they aren’t going to drive for very long.

Those are just a few reasons for short-term auto insurance. It’s a good thing to have in certain situations and definitely cannot hurt in most.

It’s important that the need for the short-term policy be understood and considered. Sometimes, especially for lengthier times, paying for more time than you’ll use might actually be cheaper–such as with a six-month policy for three or four month’s of vehicle use. It depends on the insurer and expectations.

It’s worth talking to an agent when considering a short-term car insurance policy. Sometimes, add-on insurance from a company not affiliated with your existing policies is better, sometimes going with your current insurer is right.

Aaron Turpen
An automotive enthusiast for most of his adult life, Aaron has worked in and around the industry in many ways. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press (RMAP), the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA), the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA), and freelances as a writer and journalist around the Web and in print. You can find his portfolio at AaronOnAutos.com.