Temporary car insurance for non-UK residents
Living abroad but planning to borrow a car and hit the road in the UK? Temporary car insurance can save you a mountain of trouble.
Can visitors to the UK get temporary car insurance?
Yes, that’s very much possible. There are a few companies offering temporary cover to UK expats and foreign visitors who are looking to drive in the UK for a short period of time.
You will need to compare prices and check the acceptance criteria carefully, because not all companies selling short-term car insurance will accept non-UK residents. However, quite a few do, including some specialist insurers that have dedicated options for these kinds of circumstances.
Why would you need temporary car insurance as a non-UK resident?
You might need temporary car insurance if you are planning a trip to the UK and:
- You are borrowing someone else’s car. Adding a named driver to an existing policy is a bit of a hassle and not exactly cheap. If you are planning to borrow a family member’s or a friend’s car for your visit, temporary cover is a better option, with the additional advantage of preserving their no-claim bonus.
- You put your vehicle in storage in the UK but want to use it for a bit. If you move abroad but keep a car in the UK, you may decide to put it in storage. In some cases, the storage facility may provide its own insurance, meaning you can stop your regular cover. But if you then want to use the car for a short period of time, you might need temporary car insurance.
Keep in mind that by law you are required to insure your car, even if you don’t drive it. This is unless you register it as off the road through a SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).
If you are planning to hire a car, your car rental company will usually provide insurance. A basic cover option should normally be included in the initial price, and you can choose to pay more to reduce the excess or increase the cover level.
What can I use temporary car insurance for?
You can use it to drive someone else’s car for both a personal or a business trip, for a set period of time. Most short-term temporary insurance policies go by the hour (or even the minute!) and can last up to a month.
Your trip will usually need to start and finish in the UK, but in some cases you might be able to also purchase cover for trips within the European Union.
What does temporary car insurance cover as a non-UK resident?
Just like with most types of car insurance, it very much depends on the insurer. Some features will be optional, others will be included in the basic cover.
Besides the standard third-party insurance, it is a good idea to have some level of protection in case of loss and theft, for example. Breakdown cover is often extra, so depending on your driving plans you might want to consider whether you should get it or not.
As a general rule, always get more than one quote, make sure you understand what your policy covers and what it does not, and be clear on what happens if you need to make a claim.
Can I get temporary car insurance with an EU licence?
This depends on the provider. Insurance companies normally accept licences released in the UK, EU, EEA, South Africa, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand. However, some providers only accept DVLA issued driving licenses and won’t cover you if you have a foreign license.
Some companies might only provide temporary insurance to current or former UK residents, while others will also accept visitors and tourists who have never lived in the country.
Can I get mid-term car insurance if I’m here for more than 3 months?
There are a few companies offering mid-term car insurance, but it’s not very common. The majority of short-term insurers limit it to about a month.
This means that if you want to get cover for a longer period of time, you will need to take out several different monthly policies. It’s still an option, but the longer you need it for, the more expensive it will get.
At that point, you’ll want to look at the alternatives: you can take out a standard yearly policy, or get yourself added to the vehicle’s owner’s policy (if you are borrowing the car).
What are my insurance options if I plan to move to the UK permanently?
If you are planning to move to the UK, temporary car insurance can still be an option, but really it’s just a sticking-plaster solution. You can use it for the very first few weeks, while you are getting settled. If after that you still need to drive a car, you’ll need something longer-term and more cost-effective.
If you are buying your own car, you can get a new insurance policy with a number of providers you can compare. Alternatively, if you’ll be sharing a vehicle with someone else who’s already living in the country, here are some tips on how to add a new driver to someone’s existing policy.
What if I want to insure a car in the UK while I’m living abroad?
You can do it; in fact, as we mentioned, you usually have to. Some insurers will accept non-UK residents as customers.
More than temporary car insurance, however, you’ll need a standard long-term cover.
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