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.

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.


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