The vast majority of standard car insurance policies are written for 6- or 12-month terms, and this duration is usually suitable for drivers who are keeping their vehicles long-term. Sometimes drivers don’t need car insurance coverage indefinitely, though, and they may not even need coverage for 6 or 12 months. In these situations, short-term car insurance offers temporary coverage for only a few months (or less).
What is Short-Term Car Insurance?
Short-term car insurance policies provide temporary coverage for a period less than 6 months. Many policies offer 1 or 3 months’ worth of coverage, although almost any period can be chosen if you explore different insurance companies’ offerings.
When creating these policies, insurance companies frequently shorten standard auto insurance policies to the needed duration. They base temporary on standard ones, because much of the underwriting considerations are the same for both types of policies. Your age, marital status, vehicle, driving record, credit score (in many states) and other factors will affect temporary insurance premiums, just as they will standard insurance premiums.
Importantly, however, temporary insurance policies don’t typically have cancellation costs for prematurely ending the policy. The insurance company is aware that the policy will only provide a few months (if that) of coverage, and thus doesn’t charge an additional fee beyond the premium when the policy terminates.
Not having a cancellation fee can be a significant reason to purchase temporary coverage, rather than purchasing a standard policy and actually canceling it early. The latter may indeed invoke an additional cancellation fee.
Additionally, temporary car insurance offers much of the same coverages and protections that standard car insurance codes. While you might have to consider car insurance quotes from multiple insurance companies that offer temporary car insurance, usually you can find all desired coverages from some company that has temporary policies.
Best Temporary Car Insurance Companies of 2022
Not all insurance companies that offer temporary car insurance policies make the same coverages available, nor do their policies have the same premiums. Each insurer determines what coverages they’ll offer, what the terms of each coverage are, and how they evaluate different risk factors. This results in differences among both policy options and premiums.
If you need temporary car insurance, we’ve compared temporary car insurance offerings from some of the most well-known insurers in the country. Here are the best temporary car insurance companies, depending on specifically what you need in a policy.
In our assessment, we prioritized coverage options, premiums and customer service:
- Coverage options should be robust, so you can get all of the protections you need
- Premiums should be affordable, so you aren’t overpaying for your policy’s protections
- Customer service should be excellent, so you have support in the event of a claim
Best Overall: USAA Short-Term Car Insurance
USAA provides many customizable coverage options, and is known for its historically excellent customer service.
Pros of USAA Temporary Auto Insurance
- Detailed online comparison and quote tool
- Some of the most affordable rates
- Excellent customer service available 24/7
- Impeccable financial ratings
Cons of USAA Temporary Auto Insurance
- SafePilot telematics app isn’t yet available in all states
- Restricted to members of the armed forces, and their families
- Online quotes are only available once logged into a member account
- Very limited in-person access to agents
USAA has been serving members of the armed forces for a full century, and the service is now available to members and their families (including descendants). The company offers full banking and full insurance services, including some of the best car insurance policies.
Among insurance companies, USAA has long been the go-to choice for qualifying members. The company’s combination of coverages and premiums is almost unmatched, and it’s known for having industry-leading customer service. Customer service agents are based in the United States (Georgia usually), and available 24/7.
While USAA is most well-known for its standard auto insurance offerings, the company offers identically great temporary auto insurance policies. The customer service is a benefit that’s especially helpful if you ever have to file a claim — few other companies give so much support throughout the claims-filing process.
If you qualify through military service (active duty, reserves, cadets, veterans, family members, etc.), this is probably the best company to purchase temporary auto insurance from. It should at least be one of the companies that you consider and compare.
Best for Collector Cars: Nationwide Short-Term Car insurance
Nationwide provides extensive coverage options, including coverages that are specifically for collector, antique and exotic cars.
Pros of Nationwide Temporary Auto Insurance
- Highly customizable car insurance coverage options
- Coverages specifically for classic cars (and exotic vehicles)
- Guaranteed value coverage available
- Quick and easy online quote tool
- Easy access to local agents
Cons of Nationwide Temporary Auto Insurance
- Relatively average claims satisfaction ratings
- Discounts aren’t clearly advertised
- Sometimes more expensive for standard policies
Nationwide offers nearly comprehensive property and casualty insurance options, including homeowners, renters, auto, boat, ATV and many other policies. The numerous policies make it easy to attain a multi-policy discount, which can be particularly important when trying to reduce premiums (see below).
Although Nationwide offers competitive insurance rates, the company primarily differentiates itself on coverage selection and quality. Across policies, Nationwide tends to offer somewhat more extensive protections — including for short-term auto insurance policies.
The extensive coverage options that Nationwide offers make this an excellent choice for classic car insurance. Less common coverages for antique cars, hot rods, collector vehicles, sports cars and exotic vehicles are readily available.
Nationwide temporary auto policies can come with guaranteed value coverage, which insures a vehicle for a predetermined amount rather than an estimated fair market value. This is just one example of specialized coverage, as policies may also offer coverage for genuine parts, guaranteed flatbed towing (for roadside assistance), coverage for auto shows, and more.
If you need to temporarily insure a classic car, you’ll likely find that Nationwide’s policies offer the most extensive protections. Even though premiums may be higher, it’s worth paying a little more when you’re insuring a special vehicle.
(You may also consider Nationwide for a customized short-term policy for common vehicles. Although premiums can be higher, the difference in cost may be minimal because these policies are only for a shorter duration.)
Best for Driving Emergencies: Allstate Short-Term Car Insurance
Allstate offers multiple roadside assistance plans through its short-term car insurance policies, which is a relief during roadside emergencies. Coverage for rideshare driving is also available on a short-term basis.
Pros of Allstate Temporary Auto Insurance
- Specializes in 6-month policies for longer but still temporary insurance
- Multiple roadside assistance plan options for 24/7 help
- Coverage for rideshare driving is available
- Interactive online guide explains the basics of auto insurance
- Impeccable financial ratings
Cons of Allstate Temporary Auto Insurance
- No policies shorter than 6 months
- Average claims satisfaction ratings
Allstate is particularly focused on safety, ensuring you can receive assistance during roadside emergencies. Policies can come with any of several roadside assistance plans, each of which offers varying levels of support 24/7.
Additionally, the company has over 10,000 local agents who can help navigate claims or other issues that might arise. Few insurers match Allstate’s availability for in-person support. This is one of the largest insurance companies, and size has its advantages.
Allstate is alternatively an obvious choice if you drive for any ridesharing app. Policies make coverage for rideshare driving available as an optional feature, and it can be added at quite affordable rates. If you’re rideshare driving as a short-term gig, a 6-month policy that provides coverage could be perfect.
Each of Allstate’s insurance policies is for a 6-month term, which makes their standard policies akin to longer temporary policies. You can’t get anything shorter than a 6-month policy. If you need auto insurance for half a year and/or drive in precarious conditions (e.g. winter weather), however, these policies might be tailor-made to suit your needs.
Best for Multiple Car Coverage: GEICO Short-Term Car Insurance
Geico has competitive rates for short-term car insurance, and those rates only get better if you bundle multiple policies (including multiple auto policies) together.
Pros of Geico Temporary Auto Insurance
- Competitive rates, especially for multi-vehicle temporary policies
- Detailed online comparison tool with many coverage options
- 24/7 customer support all year long
- Impeccable financial ratings
Cons of Geico Temporary Auto Insurance
- Average claims satisfaction ratings
- Geico’s DriveEasy app isn’t available in all states
Geico uniquely doesn’t offer gap coverage (for relatively new leased/financed vehicles), but the company has just about everything else. Both standard and temporary auto insurance coverage options are extensive, and there are also insurance policies for all types of homes, recreational vehicles (including temporary motorcycle insurance policies), and other property.
With so many policy options, it’s easy to take advantage of Gieco’s multiplicity discount. Simply combine auto insurance policies (including standard and temporary), home insurance policies, boat policies, or any of Geico’s many other property insurance policies. A percent-off will apply to each policy.
Don’t expect the absolute best customer service from Geico, but also don’t expect to pay the highest premiums. Rates are competitive and get better with multiple policies — which makes this the economical choice if purchasing temporary insurance for several cars (when cost becomes especially important).
Best for Filing Claims: State Farm Short-Term Car Insurance
Stat Farm has some of the highest customer service ratings in the industry, thanks to an army of agents and representatives.
Pros of State Farm Temporary Auto Insurance
- Consistently excellent customer service and claims satisfaction ratings
- 19,000 agents throughout the United States for in-person service
- 24/7 dedicated customer service phone number
- Extensive discount programs to reduce premiums
Cons of State Farm Temporary Auto Insurance
- Personal information required for a customized quote
- May not have the lowest available rates
State Farm has been serving customers right for a full century. The company’s insurance policies (including temporary auto policies) are good, and its customer service is excellent.
More than 19,000 agents are throughout the United States, so you’re never far from an agent’s office. If you can’t drive at all, need help outside business hours, or don’t want to visit an office, a 24/7 dedicated customer service phone number ensures assistance is no more than a phone call away.
State Farm is also known for offering discounts that offer opportunities to save money, and you can likely qualify for several percent-off and flat-amount discounts. They’ll award safe driving (more than any insurer), good grades, drivers education, bundling policies and more. (Check the advertiser disclosure for the specifics on advertised discounts.)
If you have a clean driving record, State Farm should be on your shortlist of companies to consider for temporary auto insurance. You’ll receive substantial discounts, solid coverage, and superb customer service anytime you need it.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Temporary Car Insurance?
Temporary car insurance provides auto coverages for a short time. The duration of a temporary policy can vary, but it’s usually less than 6 months. Rates may be billed by the day, week or month.
Should you be in an accident while a temporary car insurance policy is in effect, the policy would likely cover the accident according to the coverages, terms and conditions set forth in the policy’s papers.
Notably, short-term insurance isn’t a substitute for non-owner car insurance. While non-owner insurance is available through short-term policies, purchasing liability insurance when driving others’ vehicles and insuring for only a short time are two different matters.
Short term-insurance also shouldn’t be confused with pay-per-mile insurance. Usage insurance that’s charged according to how far you drive can be purchased through standard or short pay-per-mile car insurance policies, but it and short-term are different.
Why Don’t Auto Insurance Companies Like Short-Term Policies?
Short-term insurance policies can be difficult to find, because many insurance providers find that the financial risk outweighs the premiums received. Underwriting a short-term policy isn’t any easier than underwriting a standard policy, and the same amount of work is required.
Most car insurance providers favor standard 6- or 12-month policies for these reasons, and some don’t offer short-term policies at all.
What Should You Do If You Need Temporary Car Insurance?
If you need temporary car insurance, compare policy options from several insurance providers that offer short-term policies. You might have to look at a few policies in order to find the one that best meets your coverage, duration and premium needs.
An independent agent or website makes it easy to compare policies from several insurance companies. Be sure to look at coverages and duration, in addition to the premiums.
How Do You Apply for Temporary Car Insurance?
You can apply for temporary car insurance by requesting a customized quote, and then providing some personal information to purchase the quoted policy. You’ll need your driver’s license, your car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) and some other information.
The process of purchasing temporary insurance is fairly straightforward, though. It only takes a little while to compare quotes, and buy car insurance of any kind.
How Much Does Temporary Car Insurance Typically Cost?
Premiums for temporary car insurance can vary dramatically, as your vehicle, coverages, driving record, policy duration and other details all impact cost. You’ll have to request customized quotes to find out how much car insurance costs in your situation.
However, you can expect these policies to cost much less than a full-year car insurance policy (which can have annual premiums in the four figures). Premiums for temporary policies are often charged by the day or week, although some policies are charged by the month.
Who Shouldn’t Get Short-Term Insurance?
While short-term insurance may be more affordable for the duration of a few days, weeks or months, these policies often come with a slightly higher per-day rate than comparable standard insurance policies have. The rate for short-term policies is slightly higher because of the increased risk to the insurance provider, and the work involved with underwriting.
For this reason, short-term insurance generally isn’t the best option for drivers who need insurance long-term or indefinitely. These drivers would be better served by a standard 12-month auto insurance policy rather than a day-by-day car insurance policy. Drivers who are unsure might want a 6-month policy, such as Allstate specializes in.
Who Should Get Temporary Car Insurance?
Drivers who need insurance for less than six months may want to replace their existing policy with a short-term one, whether that’s a short-term liability car insurance policy or a more comprehensive short-term policy.
Drivers need temporary coverage when they rent vehicles. Before purchasing a short-term rental car policy, though, drivers should check whether they have coverage for a rental car through their existing policy or a credit card. Any coverage that’s needed in addition to these sources can be purchased from the rental car policy, or through a short-term policy.
College students might also want a short-term policy if they’re only driving during school breaks. Students who drive to work during holidays and summer vacations need coverage for those periods, but they may not need car coverage if they don’t have a vehicle at school.
Any other times that a driver has a vehicle for only a few months also calls for a short-term policy. Drivers can get a short-term policy for a winter beater, a cheap vehicle that they purchase, a vehicle they buy and then resell while taking a road trip, or any other reason.