What is temporary car insurance?

Temporary car insurance is handy if you need immediate, short-term insurance cover on a car. Here we explain what it is and how to get it.

Car insurance damage check

Temporary or short-term car insurance is a type of car insurance cover that allows you to drive a car for a brief period without having to take out an annual insurance policy.

It's an alternative to amending somebody else's existing insurance cover, preventing unnecessary extra costs due to direct debits continuing long after the named driver has finished using the car. Temporary insurance usually works out cheaper than any alternative option, and it’s flexible enough to cater for most short-term car insurance needs.

Best breakdown cover

You can take out temporary car insurance for a variety of reasons – whether you're using a relative's car for a week-long holiday, moving house over a weekend, in the event of an emergency, or need temporary cover for a vehicle that only gets used occasionally.

As with a standard car insurance policy, you won't be able to take out temporary cover if you're going to be borrowing somebody's car to go on a track day, for example: if you're planning on doing that, then there are specialist companies that can provide you with track day insurance cover, although this is likely to be more expensive than other types of cover. Temporary insurance can last from 1-28 days. As long as you have the permission of the owner to use the vehicle, then you're good to go.

Temporary car insurance is usually offered in the form of fully comprehensive cover, so there will be no concerns if the worst should happen, because the value of the car will be covered against theft, fire and accident damage, as will damage to third party vehicles. Some providers also offer extras such as additional cover for alloy wheel damage, scratched bodywork and also the possibility of putting the wrong fuel in the car you're covering.

How to save money on your car insurance

As with standard car insurance, there will be an excess to pay if you do make a claim, but the amount you pay can be negotiated to help reduce the cost of the short-term insurance cover. There are different policies that will cater for a wide range of drivers, from classic car enthusiasts to youngsters and learners still taking their first journeys out on the road, and as a short-term way of getting cover, it's a useful option to consider.

How to get temporary car insurance

It's important that you get the owner's permission to insure the vehicle before you proceed with getting temporary insurance cover. Once you have that, then you will need to provide the insurer with the usual set of details, including your name and address, your licence details and driving history (including if you have made any insurance claims in the past). The insurer will also need details of the car you want to insure and, of course, when you would like the temporary insurance to start and for how long you need it.

You can arrange temporary car insurance up to 30 days in advance, or you can have the cover starting on the day that the policy is arranged. It really is that flexible.

Need to sell your car?
Find your best offer from over 5,000+ dealers. It’s that easy.

If you're buying a brand-new car, some dealers will throw in temporary car insurance cover as part of a personal contract purchase (PCP) for when you first drive your car away. The premise of this is to give you some time to shop around for your first 12 months of cover and get the best deal, but if you are offered this, it's well worth checking the small print.

Research has revealed that temporary cover may not offer as much legal protection as a fully comprehensive temporary policy, it may not come with a guarantee against your no-claims bonus, and there could be cost limits on how much is paid out on repairs, while signing up to a policy such as this may breach UK data protection policy. As with any legal document, it really pays to read the small print on deals such as this.

Looking for an insurance provider? Then check out the best car insurance companies and get personalised quotes using our tool.

Senior test editor

Dean has been part of the Auto Express team for more than 20 years, and has worked across nearly all departments, starting on magazine production, then moving to road tests and reviews. He's our resident van expert, but covers everything from scooters and motorbikes to supercars and consumer products.


Why is electric car insurance so expensive? EV vs ICE cost analysis

Why is electric car insurance so expensive? EV vs ICE cost analysis

We look into claims that electric cars face higher insurance premiums than ICE equivalents
22 Nov 2023
Cheapest cars to insure in the UK 2023
Cheapest cars to insure - header image
Best cars & vans

Cheapest cars to insure in the UK 2023

Looking for a car that’s cheap to insure? We’ve listed the cars with the cheapest insurance group ratings on sale in the UK today
9 Nov 2023
‘It’s about time car insurance prices were lowered’
Opinion - car insurance

‘It’s about time car insurance prices were lowered’

Editor-in-chief Steve Fowler was shocked to find his car insurance premium had risen 44 per cent at renewal time
8 Nov 2023
'High Insurance premiums are forcing owners to scrap their cars'
Opinion - scrap

'High Insurance premiums are forcing owners to scrap their cars'

Mike Rutherford is stunned that car insurance premiums have risen by an average 61 per cent in the past 12 months
5 Nov 2023

Most Popular

New Renault Scenic 2023 review: the famous nameplate returns in style
Renault Scenic - front
Road tests

New Renault Scenic 2023 review: the famous nameplate returns in style

We get behind the wheel of new all-electric Renault Scenic to see what all the fuss is about
27 Nov 2023
“Renault is taking over as the manufacturer of cars for the people”
Opinion - Renault Twingo

“Renault is taking over as the manufacturer of cars for the people”

Mike Rutherford thinks Renault is doing more than any other manufacturer when it comes to making affordable electric cars
26 Nov 2023
Are we at the end of the road for the spare wheel?
Spare wheel

Are we at the end of the road for the spare wheel?

Just three per cent of new cars have a standard-fit spare in the boot, latest RAC data reveals
21 Nov 2023