A complete guide to short-term car insurance

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As well all know, most standard car insurance policies run for 12 months from the date you take it out – and is then renewed on that date each year.

But what if you don’t need car insurance cover for a whole 12 months? What if you’re just borrowing a friends car for the weekend, or if you’re teaching someone to drive in their own car, or you only need the car for work for a short period of time?

That’s where short-term car insurance comes in, which works exactly like normal car insurance but you set the policy to cover you for less than 12 months.

Typically short-term car insurance can be arranged to cover for you between 1-28 days, but policies can also be bought for up to three months.

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In this guide we’ll take you through everything you need to know about short-term car insurance, from what it is and who might benefit from it to what conditions you may have to adhere to.

What is short-term car insurance?

Also sometimes referred to as temporary car insurance, short-term car insurance is designed purely for drivers who need vehicle cover for a pre-defined period of time less than the usual 12 months.

With short-term car insurance you can get cover for anything from one day to three months, and with standard annual premiums now costing hundreds or even thousands of pounds the short-term option is becoming more and more attractive for motorists that only use their cars for short periods of time.

The reasons why you may only need your car for a day, a week or a month are endless, but for those that do it can feel like wasted money if you’re insuring it for the full 12 months.

Who can take out short-term car insurance?

Basically anyone who can take out a standard 12 month car insurance policy is able to get a short-term policy, with most insurers offering policies to drivers between the age of 18 and 75. However, a lot of short-term policies tend to be restricted to drivers aged 21 or over.

Some insurers may also require that the applicant driver have a certain number of years of driving experience, regardless of their age, but there are also those who will offer policies to new and young drivers as well as learner drivers with provisional licenses.

The short-term car insurance market is a bit of a mixed bag, to put it simply, so as always it pays to shop around and compare quotes from a range of insurers…

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If you have previous motoring-based convictions, points on your licence or a poor claims history then you may find it difficult to get short-term car insurance cover – but again if you shop around and compare quotes you may be able to find a suitable deal, depending on your particular circumstances.

Will I benefit from short-term car insurance?

If you only need a particular vehicle for a short space of time – typically anywhere between one day and three months – then you will find short-term car insurance will work out cheaper than insuring your car for 12 months.

The reasons you may need short-term car insurance are endless, with some common reasons being:

  • Planning to sell your car just after the renewal date
  • Buying a new car and need to drive it home
  • Planning to move abroad
  • Insuring a cherished car for a few months e.g. for the summer
  • Working away
  • Borrowing a friend or family members car e.g. to move house, for a long drive etc…

As well as the cost, another benefit of short-term car insurance is the level of cover. A lot of people who have comprehensive insurance may be covered to drive other vehicles, however this tends to only offer third party cover – leaving you liable for the cost of repairing any damage to the vehicle you are borrowing.

Short-term car insurance alternatives

As well as a fully-comp driver using their current policy to cover the vehicle on a temporary basis, another potentially risky alternative is for the person who is insured on the vehicle in question to add the ‘loanee’ of the vehicle as a named driver.

For example, if you are letting your friend borrow your car for a long drive to see their family you could add them to your policy. This could prove to be expensive though, especially if your friend is a young/inexperienced driver or has a poor no-claims history.

Also, if the friend is involved in an accident during the trip then you, as the owner of the vehicle, would be liable for the repair costs – which could also impact your own no-claims status.

In these cases a short-term or even a ‘pay-as-you-go’ car insurance policy may be the best option for all concerned.

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