Short Term Car Insurance
Who Needs It?

Short Term Car Insurance

Do you need short term car insurance for driving a borrowed car, driving in a foreign country, or covering your rental car? 

Good questions!  The answers vary depending on your situation and even the country in which you live. 

Short term auto insurance is really not a popular concept in the US and can be hard to come by if you are looking for it using that term specifically. 

Yes, you can get short term coverage in some states, but it's often not needed if you know a few little tips.

Borrowing A Car?

First of all, in the US, the insurance on a car usually follows the car, not the driver. 

By that I mean if you are borrowing the car of a friend or relative and they already have insurance, you probably don't need it.

It's always wise to double-check, of course!  There are a few exceptions to that rule, so be on the safe side and ask the insurance company if you are at all uncertain in your own situation.

One of the exceptions is for people living in the same home. If you live in the same residence as the insured person, you generally have to be on the insurance policy as a named driver in order for their coverage to apply to you.

In the UK, the insurance follows the driver, and most people don't want to risk their no claims bonus by letting someone else driver their car (because that no claims bonus really saves you money).

If you have a college age child home for the holidays, or you need to borrow a van to move house, or maybe you want to help teach a new driver the ropes in your vehicle - this short term insurance is perfect for you.

What About Car Rental Insurance?

When you rent a car, the rental company is going to want to sell you daily insurance coverage.  This is probably the most expensive short term auto insurance you can buy!

Car rental insurance runs from about $20 - $40 per day when you buy it through the rental car company.  Ouch!  You certainly want to avoid those high rates if you can.  Here are a few suggestions for doing just that:

  • Check with your credit card companies to see if any of them automatically provide insurance coverage on rental cars charged to their card.   Many of them do, which means big savings for you.  There may be limits to how long you can rent the car under this provision, so do ask.

  • Call your own insurance company and ask if you can pay an extra fee for short term car insurance on a rental car.  Some companies will add that on to your policy for temporary car insurance on the rental for a much more reasonable fee than the car rental company.

  • If you're going to be renting a car for more than a week or two, ask about a special LTR rate (Long Term Rentals).  It's considerably cheaper per day when you rent long term and the insurance rate is more affordable as well.

Tourist Automobile Insurance

Short Term Car Insurance

If you're a tourist in another country, getting short term auto insurance can be tricky, especially in the United States.

Very few states cater to extremely short term options, and you'll usually have to get a minimum of 30 days, but more often 6 months worth of insurance.

One of the companies that will offer tourist insurance to foreigners in the US is US Insurance Online.  They will give you a free quote online, too.  The coverage will be for six months, but if you don't need it for that length of time, you can get a refund on the balance when you cancel.

It's a much more straightforward process in the UK and Australia.

In Australia, there is one company that specifically caters to visiting non-residents who want to drive in Australia, and that's Kings Cross Car Market at 1-800-808-188.  They'll tell you exactly what you need to get tourist auto insurance in Australia.

In the UK, there are plenty of insurance companies that offer short term auto insurance.  Their coverage is completely different (and follows the driver rather than the car), so more people need this type of coverage. 

In the UK you can get short term car insurance for a single day if you want! 

When All Else Fails

If you're trying to find short term car insurance in the USA and are discovering obstacle after obstacle instead, the best solution is to just go ahead and buy a regular long term auto insurance policy. 

When your need is over, cancel the policy and get a refund on the remaining pro-rated balance.  Sometimes that's just the easiest thing to do with the least amount of hassle.  It may be more money up front, but in the end it's worth not having all the aggravation.

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