Direct Line magazine

What is short-term car insurance?

Updated on: 21 May 2020

The sun rises over an open road

For most of us, the annual car insurance policy is the standard way we insure our cars, but sometimes things crop up in life that mean you may need to drive another vehicle or add another person to your policy, but only for a limited time.

Short-term car insurance is exactly what it says: insurance that covers you or another driver for a short time period, anything down to a single day.

That’s it in a nutshell, but let’s have a look at some of the specifics.

How does short-term car insurance work?

In simple terms, you either add a person to your policy on a temporary basis, or the owner of the vehicle allows you to arrange a policy that covers you to use their vehicle.

You have to provide information, such as:

  • Name, date of birth, occupation

  • Driving licence and your driving history, including claims and convictions

  • Details of the vehicle you need to be insured on

  • The period cover is required for

Once the policy is in effect you can drive the vehicle within the agreed timeframe only, but during that time you are covered. Short-term car insurance tends to be fully comprehensive, though third party options do exist. Often it can be cheaper and more convenient to take out temporary insurance than amend a 12-month policy.

Short-term car insurance shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for an annual policy. If you’re going to be driving a vehicle regularly then opt for a regular policy

How long does short term car insurance last for?

Short-term car insurance is usually valid for anything from one day up to 28 days. There are usually restrictions on how many such policies you can take out within a 12-month period. Short-term car insurance shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for an annual policy. If you’re going to be driving a vehicle regularly then opt for a regular policy.

Who uses short term car insurance?

Short-term car insurance can be useful for any driver if they encounter some of the issues we’ve looked at already, but there are specific groups who may find it especially useful.

  • Learners. If you’re learning to drive but between lessons you can only get behind the wheel of a practice vehicle every now and then, it might make sense to have short-term car insurance instead of being put down as a named driver on an annual policy.

  • Students and young drivers. If you know how to drive, don’t have your own car, but do have access to a car through family or friends, then this can be a sensible choice. Short-term car insurance works well for students who only drive during the holidays. It is also useful for young drivers who might be taking mum and dad’s car on a short trip.

  • Occasional drivers. If you have a car in your garage, but you only take it out occasionally, then this form of cover could be right for you.

What cars can be insured by short term car insurance?

The most common exclusion on short-term car insurance is modified cars. Cars that have been modified from their factory specification are usually excluded. Similarly, many insurance companies won’t want to cover imported cars for short terms. You may also find that some have an upper limit on the value of the car.

It all depends on the specifics; so before you agree on the policy make sure you check all the exclusions or other terms that could affect the validity of the insurance.

Short-term car insurance is pretty straightforward and as long as you understand its limitations it can be the ideal option for many circumstances.

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