One day car insurance
Don’t own a car but need to use one for 24 hours? One day car insurance could well be the solution for you.
If you need to borrow a car for a short time, because you don’t have your own car or need a bigger vehicle temporarily, the last thing you want is to pay through the nose for an annual policy that you’ll only use for one of the 365 days. Temporary car insurance is available in the UK and could ensure you and the car have the protection you need without breaking the bank. Learn how one day car insurance works and compare deals.
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What is one day car insurance?
All drivers are legally required to have a minimum of third-party car insurance to be on UK roads. Not only does it cover you if you cause harm to other people or their property in an accident, you can upgrade to comprehensive cover for financial protection if your own car is vandalised, stolen or damaged by fire. This applies whether you’re on the road for one day or one year.
One day car insurance works by providing cover only for the time you need to drive, avoiding the need to sign up for a traditional annual car insurance policy. While we focus on one day car insurance here, you can actually get temporary car insurance from one hour up to 30 days.
Who is one day car insurance best for?
You might think about taking out one day car insurance if you’re:
- Borrowing a car for a trip, to visit family or to move house
- Test-driving a car before buying it
- Sharing the driving of a friend’s car on a road trip
- Taking a rarely used second car out for a spin (though see “When is one day car insurance not appropriate?” below)
- Borrowing a car in an emergency.
Am I eligible for a one day car insurance policy?
Each insurer will have its own set of conditions and restrictions for one day car insurance. For example, an insurer may list the following eligibility criteria:
- Age of driver. Many insurers have minimum and maximum age limits, for example between 18 and 75. Some insurers may have higher or lower age cut-offs at either end.
- Licence requirements. Drivers must typically have held a current and full UK driver’s licence for a minimum of 6 months, or a European Union driver’s licence for at least 12 months.
- UK residence. Drivers must usually have been resident in the UK for 12 months or more.
- Driving history. If you’ve received more than 7 points on your driver’s licence in the last 3 years, you may be excluded from one day cover. The same may apply if you’ve had more than 2 at-fault claims in the previous 3 years.
- Criminal convictions. These will usually rule you out from cover.
- Car details. The car you’re getting insurance on must usually be registered in Great Britain, Northern Ireland or the Isle of Man, not have a market value over or under certain levels, be a right-hand drive and not exceed a certain size
The list above acts as a good rule of thumb, but the precise details can vary between insurers, so it’s important to check eligibility conditions and restrictions before buying. Not doing so could risk invalidating your cover.
What does one day car insurance cover?
If cover is comprehensive, it will usually include:
- Third-party cover for any harm you cause to other people and property, including when driving in the EU
- Fire and weather damage to the insured car
- Accidental damage to the insured car
- Theft of the insured car
- Flexible cover that can be extended if needed
Because a one day insurance policy is entirely separate to any annual policy held by you or the owner of the car, it won’t affect any no-claims bonus you or they have built up.
What is not covered by one day car insurance?
Fairly obviously, if you take out car insurance for one day, it will only cover you for that one day. Drive outside that timeframe without extending the period, and you won’t be covered (yep, we know, no “sugar” Sherlock). You’re insurance will also be invalid if you don’t have permission to drive the car from the owner.
Other than that, one day car insurance comes with the same exclusions as regular car insurance. For example:
- You drive whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- The car isn’t roadworthy (for example, if the tyres are worn below the legal limit)
- You let someone that isn’t named on the policy drive the car
- You use the car for purposes that you didn’t declare. For example, if you want to use the car for business reasons, standard one day cover is unlikely to be sufficient. Look for temporary business car insurance instead
What extra features can I add to a one day car insurance policy?
Any optional extras that might be available to enhance a one day car insurance policy will vary depending on the insurer. The following are some of the most common that might be available:
- Comprehensive cover to drive in Europe (your policy should include third-party cover in Europe as standard)
- Temporary UK or EU breakdown cover
What are the alternatives to a one day car insurance policy?
If you’re looking to borrow a car for a day or two, there are a couple of other ways to make sure you’re legally in the clear.
- Check if your own comprehensive annual policy covers you to drive other cars. If it does, this will likely be on a third-party basis. You may be able to ask your insurer to extend this to comprehensive cover, for an extra fee.
- Ask the car’s owner to add you to their policy as a named driver. This can be an affordable option that gives you the same cover as the main driver of the car, but it will bump up the car owner’s premiums and may put their no-claims bonus at risk if you have an accident.
How much does one day car insurance cost?
Temporary car insurance premiums are calculated based on a number of different factors, just as traditional annual policies are. These factors include the driver’s age, driving experience and location, as well as the car’s make, model and value. Plus, of course, the number of days you need cover for.
If you’re an experienced older driver and plan to borrow a family car, you will find it easier to get cheap one day car insurance than if you’re an inexperienced younger driver wishing to borrow a sports car.
As always, the cost can also vary significantly between insurers, so shop around and compare deals to get the best cover for your needs.
How can I cut the cost of car insurance for a day?
- Add yourself as a named driver to an existing policy. Ask the owner of the car to check how much it would cost to add you to their policy, as it may be cheaper than buying separate insurance. But remember, any claim would affect the policyholder’s no-claims bonus.
- Consider your cover needs. Decide whether you need comprehensive cover or whether, if available, a third-party, fire and theft policy would be suitable for your needs. Though don’t assume the latter will definitely be cheaper; compare costs for both.
- Increase the voluntary excess. Agreeing to pay a bigger car insurance excess could make your overall premium cheaper. But remember that your insurer won’t pay out for a claim that costs less than your excess. So be careful about making it too high, as it could leave you out of pocket if damage occurs.
- Limit optional extras if you don’t need them. Think carefully about which optional extras you really want, as adding extra protection to your policy will generally push the price up.
- Buy cover for all the days you need up-front. Per day, buying cover for 3 single days, for example, may be more expensive than buying 3 days in a block. So if you’re fairly certain you’ll need cover for more than 1 day, it could work out cheaper to pay for them in a block. Of course, this is a bit of a trade-off, as if you do this and it turns out you only needed the car for 24 hours, you’ll have paid for cover you don’t need.
- Shop around. Shop around and compare your options to find the best deal. Keep in mind that the cheapest temporary policy isn’t always the best policy, so check the cover details carefully.
What do I need to get a one day car insurance quote?
To get a one day car insurance quote, you’ll need:
- A list of providers to get quotes from (handily, the table at the top of this page can help you get started)
- The details of when you need cover to start and stop
- Most of the other information you’ll usually need to give to get any car insurance quote, including the car make and model and your personal details, such as your age, driving history and occupation
What if I need car insurance cover for longer than one day?
If you take out one day car insurance but decide that you need cover for a longer period, most temporary car insurers will allow you to extend your policy. As temporary insurance is available from anywhere from 1 hour up to 30 days, you should easily be able to contact the insurer to extend a policy for the extra time you need, provided it falls within the insurer’s maximum cover period.
There are plenty of options if you decide you need car insurance for only one day. But just as you would for an annual policy, it’s important to shop around and compare deals to make sure you find the best cover for your needs.
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