Temporary car insurance

Learn about getting a car insurance policy for less than six months.

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Temporary car insurance lets you insure a car for a short period of time, such as a rental car, a borrowed car or a car you only drive occasionally. It’s possible but difficult to get temporary or short term car insurance, since most insurers set policies for a minimum of 6 months or a year.

Can I get temporary car insurance?

The short answer: maybe. In order to drive legally, you’re required to carry at least the minimum mandatory liability coverage in your province but it’s very rare for insurance providers to offer coverage for any period less than 6 months.

Here are some situations where you might need short-term, or temporary car insurance:

  • You’re renting a car for an extended period of time but don’t want to pay the rental company’s higher car insurance fees.
  • You’re borrowing a friend’s car that you intend to use on a regular basis.
  • You’re buying a car that you’ll resell in a short period of time.
  • You’ve moved and need insurance for a short time until you choose a new long term policy.

You may be able to avoid the search for a temporary car insurance policy if:

  • You want a policy for 6 months or longer. You can get standard coverage from almost any insurer.
  • You’re renting a car and opt for coverage through the rental company.
  • You’re renting a car and have a credit card that provides coverage on rental cars. Check the fine print of your credit card coverage, as they often offer limited protection.
  • If you’re borrowing a friend’s car for occasional use, your friend’s current policy could likely temporarily add you as another driver.

What kind of short-term car insurance can I get?

Short-term car insurance temporarily protects you against damage and injury if you’re in an accident in your own car, a rental or one that you’ve borrowed.

Unlike your typical car insurance policy that covers you from 6 to 12 months at a time, short-term or temporary car insurance is typically good for up to 30 days. You specify the exact coverage you’d like and the specific days you’ll need it.

Short-term car insurance generally costs more than a regular policy. Pricing is based on the make and model of the vehicle, where you’re intending to drive and other factors.

Short term car insurance options

Compare the easiest option for getting car insurance for a day, a week, a month or however long you need it.

What are the downfalls of temporary car insurance?

While there may be reasons to seek out short term car insurance, there are also pitfalls to consider:

  • Coverage can’t always be used immediately. Comprehensive and collision coverage can be limited if you only want a policy for a couple of weeks. There might be a 30-day waiting period before you can make a claim.
  • Coverage is hard to find. Companies are wary of temporary policies due to high-risk applicants, the unlikeliness to renew and the time it takes to underwrite a short-term policy. Many of the larger carriers only offer 6-month plus options.
  • Temporary coverage could lapse. With a short-term policy, there’s a risk of letting your policy lapse while you’re still driving the car. And if you’re caught driving without insurance, you could face penalties.

What are the alternatives to short term insurance?

You can easily find companies that will provide temporary car insurance, but usually at a cost. Instead of opting for a lesser-known insurance company that specializes in temporary car insurance, consider a more flexible car insurance option.

  • Find a pay-as-you-drive car insurance policy. This type of policy allows you to enjoy all the benefits of comprehensive car insurance while only paying for the distance you drive. CAA’s MyPace program is an example. One drawback is that you’ll usually pay a small minimum amount, limiting your savings if you’re only using the car in the short term.
  • Pay premiums monthly. Choose a policy that allows you to pay your premiums monthly and cancel it when you no longer need coverage. To avoid a cancellation fee, take out a policy with a provider who don’t charge cancellation fees.
  • Add a driver to an existing policy. If you’re borrowing a relative’s or friend’s car for a temporary period, ask them if they’d consider adding you to their policy as a listed driver. Note that this could significantly increase the cost of coverage.
  • Rent a car. Though it’s an expensive option, you could rent a car and purchase insurance through the rental company.

When is an annual policy cheaper than temporary insurance?

Temporary insurance is flexible and can help you save money if you need a car for a matter of hours, day or weeks.

But if you’re going to use the car for at least two or three months of the year, it might be cheaper to take out an annual policy and then cancel it when you no longer need it, or to get seasonal insurance that only covers you during the time when you drive.

The drawback of taking this route is you’ll have to pick an insurer without cancellation fees that also sends prorated refunds. Otherwise you might be paying extra to cancel the policy. You may also pay more for insurance in the future if you show a lapse in coverage from on-and-off coverage.

However, when looking at the average daily rate, temporary insurance deals are more expensive than annual insurance policies.

Do I need temporary car insurance if I have a home in two different provinces?

Different rules and regulations apply in each province such as mandatory minimum coverage amounts. If you’ll be driving between provinces, make sure your current policy meets the minimum requirements of that province. Check with your current provider to learn what type of coverage you’ll need.

What if I’m at school that’s not in my home province?

If you’re away from home attending university in another province and your permanent address is at home, you should get coverage in your home province. Most insurers will let you stay covered under your home address instead of your school address, but check with your provider to see if there are any exceptions or unique coverage for post-secondary students.

Can I get temporary RV insurance?

For campers, caravans or RVs that you only drive part of the year, some providers offer part-time RV insurance. Tell your provider how many months you use it and what kind of coverage you need, and you’ll be billed only for the months you drive your RV.

Also check with your provider for any special requirements — like how long your RV has to be parked or garaged before this kind of insurance kicks in. You also might need to update your insurance provider if your RV usage changes to make sure you’re covered when you use it.

Bottom line

While car insurance is required in all provinces, some specialty companies offer short-term coverage, usually at a higher price. Compare your car insurance options to find the best one for however long you’ll be on the road.

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