Temporary Car Insurance Buying Guide (2023)

Here’s how to get appropriate car insurance coverage without committing to a long-term policy.

Updated December 21, 2022

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Most car insurance policies last six or 12 months, but you may not need a policy for that long. Maybe you borrow a friend’s car for a few weeks but don’t have your own insurance, host an exchange student and let them use the family car, or you’re a remote worker who temporarily needs to go into the office.

No “single day” or “weekend” temporary car insurance policies exist, but some insurers offer short-term policies that provide coverage for one and six months. 

Quick Facts

  • Reputable insurance companies don’t offer one-day, weekend, or one-week car insurance.

  • Some insurers offer short-term coverage for one to six months of coverage.

  • Several products, services, and strategies allow you to get temporary or lower-cost coverage if you’re not a regular driver.

What is temporary car insurance?

Standard auto insurance policies usually last either six months or one year, even if you can spread the premium cost over monthly payments. If you only need coverage for less than six months, temporary car insurance provides a great option. While there aren’t one-day or one-week insurance policies, some auto insurance providers offer policies between one and six months. This policy type, which generally has a minimum coverage of one month, protects you if you’re not otherwise covered by your own or another person’s auto insurance.

Learn More: One-Day Car Insurance — A Common Myth

When would you need temporary auto insurance?

Temporary car insurance might make sense in several situations. 

“One possibility is if you’ve relocated temporarily for work and have to drive, whereas you normally lived in a city and had public transportation,” Loretta Worters, vice president of the Insurance Information Institute, explains. “Another scenario could be if you’re lending your car to a friend or relative for a short period of time — perhaps because their car has been in an accident or they are buying a new car and need something temporarily.”

In the first scenario, you may not carry any car insurance because you don’t own a car. If you borrow a car to use during your temporary relocation, the owner’s insurance policy doesn’t necessarily cover your use of the car. The same applies if you do have standard car insurance for your own vehicle back home. 

Similarly, if you lend a car to a friend or family member, your insurance doesn’t always cover them. Unless the friend or relative lives with you, you generally can’t add them to your current auto insurance policy. 

Other situations that may require temporary car insurance might include:

  • Your college-aged child only drives when home on breaks.

  • You have a car that you use very infrequently.

  • You have someone visiting you from out of the country.

  • You’re renting a car.

How to get car insurance for temporary situations

No matter what temporary driving situation you find yourself in, you must be appropriately insured. Beyond being a legal requirement for getting behind the wheel, it will also protect you and the owner of the car in the event of an accident.

Each situation requiring temporary insurance varies, so it’s important to understand which type of coverage you need. Find the temporary or short-term insurance options you might consider depending on your needs below.

Purchase pay-per-mile insurance

With pay-per-mile insurance coverage, you only pay for the miles you drive, which the insurer tracks through a mobile app or a telematic device. Insurers who offer pay-per-mile policies, like Allstate, charge you either a monthly or daily base rate, plus a per-mile rate. Depending on which state you live in, the base-rate and per-mile rate may fluctuate up or down based on your driving behavior. With Nationwide, for example, you might pay a $60 per month base rate plus a $0.07 per mile rate. So if you only drive 100 miles in one month, your monthly cost will only be $67. 

If you have to drive a long distance in a single day, most insurers provide a per-mile cap per day. For instance, if your insurer has a 250 mile daily cap and you drive 280 miles in one day, you’ll only pay the per-mile rate for the first 250 miles. Pay-per-mile insurance will only save you money if you genuinely don’t drive much because the per-mile rate adds up quickly if you put a large number of miles on the car. You can benefit from a pay-per-mile insurance policy if you temporarily don’t need to drive.

If you need pay-per-mile coverage for less than a standard six-month policy, you should be able to enroll in such a policy and cancel it once your needs change. If you do that, make sure you have another policy in place to cover you before canceling the first one so you have no lapse in coverage.

Worters warns, “What typically happens is the insurer will refund the remaining months, but usually charges a cancellation fee.”

Get temporary coverage for student drivers

If your college-aged child goes to school without their car, you may be eligible for a Student Away at School discount. This discount is generally available to drivers under the age of 25 who are still on their parents’ auto insurance and attending school at least 100 miles away from home. You must also ensure that the college-aged driver only drives the car occasionally, such as during school breaks.

Many insurers offer Student Away at School discounts. If you qualify for this discount, it presents a better option than taking your child off your insurance and purchasing temporary insurance for them when they are home on break. Your child will be covered anytime they come home, even if it’s not during a usual school break. 

Consider permissive use

Permissive use refers to when you give a driver permission to use your car, which differs from listing drivers other than yourself on your insurance policy.[1] Listed drivers generally include the licensed drivers in the household, including the policyholder’s spouse and licensed children. A permitted driver, like a friend visiting from out of town, is not specifically listed in the policy.

Most insurers (but not all) include permissive use as part of a standard insurance policy. So insurance coverage follows the car, rather than the specific driver, as long as you’ve given permission to the driver to be behind the wheel.[2]

Some limits to permissive use apply. Most insurers who allow for permissive use only cover other drivers who occasionally use your car, with a limited number of uses per year. So you can’t allow your neighbor to drive your kids and her kids in your car for weekly carpool to hockey practice under permissive use. You’ll have to add the neighbor as a listed driver to be completely covered under repeated use. Additionally, some insurers may provide lower coverage levels under permissive use — possibly as low as the state-mandated minimums.

If you plan to allow someone to borrow your car, check your insurance policy to see if it covers permissive use and be aware of any limits before handing over the keys.

Read More: Can I add someone to my car insurance who doesn't live with me?

Purchase short-term car insurance for international visitors

International drivers coming to America for a short time must have a valid license and U.S. car insurance if they intend to drive during their stay, with the exception of drivers licensed and insured in Canada.

Each state recognizes valid driver’s licenses from foreign countries, which are typically valid for up to four months after you’ve entered the U.S. You can also apply for an International Driving Permit (IDP) before you arrive in the U.S., which will generally be valid for up to one year. You can’t get an IDP once you’re in the U.S.

If you’re renting a car in the U.S. for your stay, then you can usually purchase insurance coverage through the rental agency. 

However, if you’re staying several months and intend to purchase a car that you’ll sell before you leave or borrow a car from a friend for the duration of your stay, you’ll need to purchase an insurance policy for yourself. A standard policy duration lasts a minimum of six months, but some insurers offer shorter policies.

Not all insurers are willing to cover foreign drivers, even if they have decades of driving experience in their home countries.

Get parked car insurance

If you don’t need to use your car for a period of time, purchasing comprehensive-only insurance, also known as parked car or car storage insurance, could lower your insurance costs. To qualify for this coverage, you have to store your car in one place. Generally, your insurer will want the car to be off the street and in a locked garage or storage facility. Parked car insurance excludes collision coverage and uninsured motorist coverage because it is unlikely your stored vehicle will be struck by another car. Your vehicle could still be hit by a falling tree branch, stolen, or otherwise damaged while in storage, which comprehensive insurance covers.

Insurers generally require your vehicle to be stored for at least 30 to 60 days to qualify for parked car insurance. Some insurers offer comprehensive-only coverage as a standalone policy, but you’ll have to prove that you have another vehicle that’s insured to at least the state minimums. Additionally, if you’re leasing or financing the vehicle that you’ll put in storage, you’ll likely have to maintain collision coverage to satisfy your auto loan servicer.

Purchase non-owner insurance

If you don’t own a car but regularly drive one, non-owner car insurance could protect you in the event of an accident. This insurance only provides liability coverage as a baseline, which means it won’t pay for damage to the car you’re driving or for your own injuries. A non-owner policy may also include uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage and personal injury protection. Non-owner insurance coverage tends to be less expensive than standard insurance you might purchase for a car you own.

Here are some reasons why you might choose to purchase non-owner insurance:

  • You regularly rent cars. 

  • You regularly borrow someone’s car.

  • You use a car-sharing service.

  • You want to prevent a lapse in car insurance coverage. 

In most cases, you’ll have to call an insurance agent to get more information about non-owner insurance because very few insurers offer online quotes for this sort of coverage.

Consider rental car insurance

When you rent a car from a rental agency, you have the option of purchasing insurance at the same time. Four types of rental car insurance coverage may be offered:

  • Loss damage waiver (LDW) or collision damage waiver (CDW): Similar to collision coverage, this protects you if you get into an accident and damage the rental car. You may already have this coverage through a standard auto policy for your own car or the credit card you use to reserve the rental car.

  • Liability coverage: This will protect you in case you damage someone else’s property

  • Personal accident coverage: This pays for your and your passengers’ medical bills if you’re injured in an accident. Your health insurance may also cover some portion of these bills.

  • Personal effects coverage: This protects any personal effects that might be stolen from your rental car, alongside any homeowners or renters insurance.

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Can you get car insurance for just one day, one week, or one month?

Reputable insurers don’t offer auto insurance for one day or one week, and only a few insurers offer one-month policies. The majority of insurers don’t offer policies shorter than six months, but some insurance companies offer one- to six-month policies. Companies that offer policies in increments shorter than six months include:

  • Allstate


  • Liberty Mutual

  • Nationwide

  • State Farm

  • USAA

Learn More: Cheap Car Insurance

Temporary car insurance FAQs

Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about temporary car insurance.

  • Choose the best type of policy for your needs. You might decide to shop for a policy that only lasts a few months, or you might choose another insurance strategy like pay-per-mile, permissive use, non-owner insurance, or rental car insurance.

  • No car insurance policy only lasts for a weekend. If you rent a car, you can purchase insurance from the rental agency, and if you borrow a car, you may be covered via permissive use.

  • While no insurers offer month-to-month car insurance, you may be able to purchase a per-mile policy. Under such a policy, you’ll pay a base rate per month or per day, plus a per-mile rate for every mile you drive. 

  • Like standard car insurance, temporary coverage pays for covered damages up to the limits of the policy you purchase.

  • Not necessarily. Good reasons to switch companies include to save money or because you’ve moved. But if you have to cancel a policy in order to switch, you may end up having to pay a cancellation fee, and if you have a lapse in coverage between your old insurer and the new one, you may face fees and penalties.[3]

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  • Data scientists at Insurify analyzed more than 40 million real-time auto insurance rates from our partner providers across the United States to compile the car insurance quotes, statistics, and data visualizations displayed on this page. The car insurance data includes coverage analysis and details on drivers' vehicles, driving records, and demographic information. Quotes for Allstate, Farmers, GEICO, State Farm, and USAA are estimates based on Quadrant Information Service's database of auto insurance rates. With these insights, Insurify is able to offer drivers insight into how companies price their car insurance premiums.


  1. NOLO. ""Permissive Use" Car Insurance Coverage." Accessed December 16, 2022
  2. Insurance Information Institute. "8 Auto Insurance Myths." Accessed December 16, 2022
  3. Kelly Blue Book. "Is It Bad to Switch Car Insurance Companies?." Accessed December 16, 2022
Emily Guy Birken
Emily Guy Birken

Emily Guy Birken is a former educator, lifelong money nerd, and a Plutus Award-winning freelance writer who specializes in the scientific research behind irrational money behaviors. Her background in education allows her to make complex financial topics relatable and easily understood by the layperson.

Her work has appeared on The Huffington Post, Business Insider, Kiplinger's, MSN Money, and The Washington Post online.

She is the author of several books, including The 5 Years Before You Retire, End Financial Stress Now, and the brand new book Stacked: Your Super Serious Guide to Modern Money Management, written with Joe Saul-Sehy.

Emily lives in Milwaukee with her family.