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Temporary car insurance explained

Temporary, or short-term, car insurance gives you cover for a set period of time. Find out how much it costs, and how you can find the cheapest policy.

In this article
What is temporary car insurance? How much does temporary car insurance cost? Which insurers offer temporary car insurance?
How can you get cheap temporary car insurance? Can you tax your car if you have temporary car insurance? Temporary car insurance for driving in Europe

Are you planning on driving a car for only a short and limited time – maybe even someone else’s vehicle?


If so, you’ll still need to be insured in order to stay legal when on the road, but a temporary car insurance policy might be a better (and cheaper) option than taking out a standard policy.



What is temporary car insurance?


Temporary car insurance provides you with short-term cover for driving a car – either a vehicle you own yourself, or someone else’s. You can choose how long to buy insurance for – typically, anything from a day to several months – and the cover is usually fully comprehensive, just like a standard policy.


There are lots of different circumstances in which this sort of insurance could prove useful:

  • Borrowing a car from someone for a short period
  • Help a friend or family member out by driving them in their own vehicle
  • Sharing the driving with the car owner during a long journey
  • Learning to drive in someone else's car
  • Buying a car on a trial basis
  • A second car you only drive occasionally
  • For other people who drive your car infrequently – children home from university, for instance

Learner drivers also have access to specialist learner driver policies and, once qualified, could save money by opting for black box car insurance.


How much does temporary car insurance cost?


What you’ll actually pay depends on the sort of factors that affect the cost of all car insurance – including your age, your occupation, where you live and how long you’ve been driving for. But to give you a rough idea, the RAC suggests a day of insurance might cost you around £28, while a month might cost around £200.


While temporary car insurance can save you money, it is expensive compared to an annual policy.


If you work out the pro rata cost of insurance for a month of cover under a standard policy, it will very likely be lower than the cost of a month’s worth of temporary cover.


This makes it important to do your sums. If you only need insurance for a few days or weeks, there is a good chance you will be better off with a temporary policy. But the longer you want to buy cover for, the more it will cost; eventually, you’ll reach a point where an annual policy is more affordable. And you are likely to reach that point more quickly if the alternative to a temporary policy is paying to become a named driver on someone else’s policy.


It is also important to check what you’re getting for your money. For example, temporary car insurance policies often come with higher excesses – the amount of any claim you have to settle yourself – so you’ll be more out-of-pocket in the event of an accident.

Which insurers offer temporary car insurance?


While many of the big names in car insurance do offer temporary insurance policies, these are non-standard products where smaller, more specialist insurers may often prove more competitive.


In fact, the insurance market is increasingly competitive, with new entrants offering products in niches such as this, often powered by new technology – Cuvva is one well-known example, but there are many more.


In addition, several well-known insurers have set up subsidiaries to sell products such as temporary cover – Admiral has launched Veygo, for example, while Aviva owns Dayinsure.



How can you get cheap temporary car insurance?


It is important to shop around for the best deal. Price comparison sites can be a good way to identify the cheapest temporary policies, but try searching on several of them in order to catch as many provides as possible.


You can also reduce the cost of cover by buying smartly. Don’t buy more cover than you need – some insurers will even sell you temporary car insurance by the hour. And consider opting for features such as a higher excess, which should mean a lower premium.


Alternatively, an independent insurance broker may be a good option – they’ll scan the whole market on your behalf and should have a good feel for which insurer is the best match to your personal circumstances.


Can you tax your car if you have temporary car insurance?


Yes. When you buy car insurance, your insurer will add the details to the Motor Insurance Database (MIB), the digital register of vehicle insurance that now operates in the UK. This applies with temporary insurance in the same way as a standard policy.


This is important because you cannot buy vehicle tax on a vehicle that has not been insured – and when you try to tax your vehicle, a check on the MIB will be made before the purchase goes ahead. As long as your details are on the MIB, you will be able to tax your vehicle.

Temporary car insurance for driving in Europe


Not all standard car insurance policies cover drivers if they take their vehicles to continental Europe – or they may offer a reduced level of cover, such as third-party coverage only. If you’re planning on driving across the channel, you therefore need to double-check your position with your insurer.


If you find you don’t have sufficient European cover for your needs, your current insurer may be prepared to upgrade your policy, or sell you cover specifically for the trip, but it will make a charge for doing so. It may be cheaper to buy separate temporary car insurance for European driving from a different insurer.


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