Temporary Car Insurance for Road Trips

Car insurance is something you don’t get to choose whether you want it or not. If you drive, you have to have it. For some individuals, though, standard car insurance policies aren’t a good fit.

If you only drive occasionally, why would you want to pay for car insurance all year round? Temporary car insurance might seem like the answer for your summer travels, especially if you don’t travel the rest of the year. 

Read on to learn what’s available for temporary car insurance, excellent alternatives, and why sometimes standard car insurance is better.

Temporary Auto Insurance Policy Options

In the U.S., there aren’t any options for temporary car insurance. Short-term coverage policies simply don’t exist. So, if you’re planning an exciting road trip adventure in America, you’ll have to find a different method of insuring yourself.

In other countries (the U.K., for example) short-term policies are available. Several companies offer policies of one day up to 30 days.

When you purchase a car insurance policy in the U.S., you’ll sign on for either a six-month policy or an annual policy. The critical thing to remember, though, is that you’re not obligated to stay with your car insurer for the length of your term. You can cancel at any time. A few insurers penalize customers who cancel their coverage early, but most companies do not.

There are some cons to canceling a policy and being without insurance coverage, though. One factor that goes into your premium calculation is whether you’ve had a lapse in coverage. Picking up a policy here or there with no insurance coverage in between will ensure you’ll pay higher rates when you want to pick up a policy again.

Thankfully, there are some excellent alternatives to temporary car insurance coverage in the U.S., and we’ll cover those next.

Alternatives to Temporary Auto Insurance

Depending on your situation, there are car insurance options that will provide the amount of coverage you need but avoid high costs. We’ll look at a few of them now.

By-the-Mile Coverage

If you own a car but drive infrequently, these types of plans let you pay a low flat rate monthly for their service, and then you’ll pay a per-mile rate for how much you drive. 

There are a couple of car insurance companies that exclusively offer this type of coverage, but because it’s proven to be quite popular, even traditional car insurance providers are starting to offer similar plans.

By comparing rates and policies, you should be able to make an informed decision on which by-the-mile policy is suitable for your situation. 

Rental Car Coverage

If you don’t have your own car and only drive when you’re renting a car, your best option is to purchase the coverage offered by the rental car company. It will usually cost about $15 a day, more or less depending on the type of vehicle you’re renting, and it will only be in force on the days you rent a car.

Getting rental coverage through the rental company is a simple process. They’ll ask you if you want it, you say, “yes,” sign a paper, and you’re covered. The collision loss waiver they offer will give you the peace of mind that whatever accidental damage you cause to the vehicle won’t hurt your financial situation.

Non-Owner Coverage

If you occasionally borrow a friend’s vehicle but don’t own a car, a non-owner policy may be the best fit for you. It provides liability coverage for property damage and bodily injury, and it’s cheaper than standard liability coverage.

Many national car insurance companies offer non-owner policies, so it’s easy to find and compare your options. Just keep in mind that non-owner policies do not cover first-party damages, so if you get hurt or damage your friend’s vehicle, your policy will not provide reimbursement.

Benefits of Permanent Car Insurance Coverage

Carrying a standard car insurance policy has several benefits. Those benefits especially pay off if you own a car or if you’re without a vehicle for a short time. Here are some of the most significant benefits permanent car insurance policies offer. 

Decreased Auto Insurance Rates

If you’re without a vehicle for a short period, you’re better off continuing your standard car insurance coverage. If you cancel it, the increased premiums you’ll pay when you reinstate your policy won’t be worth the savings of not having insurance for a couple of months.

Car insurers look at a lapse in coverage as a risk factor. The higher your risk, the more you’ll pay for insurance.

Avoidance of Insurance Policy Penalties

If you own a car but don’t use it often, you’ll still need a standard car insurance policy because in most states, vehicles you own have to be registered, and to register, you have to show proof of insurance. If you let your insurance lapse or cancel your coverage, you could face penalties.

There are exceptions to the general rule above, but for the most part, if you own a car, you need insurance.

Established Auto Insurance Coverage

When you need to drive, it’s nice just to be able to go because you’re already covered. If you don’t have insurance and have to figure out a way to get yourself covered so you can drive somewhere, you may decide it’s not worth the hassle.

If you already have insurance, you’ll simplify the process. You’ll be able to drive when you need to without having to take extra steps.

Even though a temporary car insurance plan sounds like the best option for your summer vacation or infrequent driving needs, it’s just not available.

If you plan a trip to the United Kingdom or the European Union, you may benefit from a temporary insurance plan. They’re available in those countries, and they’re a good fit for summer holiday travelers in the U.K. 

If your driving plans are for the U.S., you have some choices to review, and you may find that one of them is as good a fit as you expected a temporary insurance policy to be. 

Any time you choose a car insurance policy, whether a standard policy or an alternative option, you should compare quotes and understand exactly what is covered. With good-fit coverage, you’ll be able to enjoy your traveling plans more fully, knowing that you have adequate car insurance protection.

Melanie Musson is an auto insurance expert who writes and researches for AutoInsurance.org. She knows the ins and outs of insurance and loves to travel. Melanie is passionate about helping people understand their auto insurance needs so they can travel knowing they have adequate coverage.

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