A guide to short-term car insurance

If you don't need a full 12 months' of cover a short-term policy may be the best option. Find out more in our guide...

A guide to short-term car insurance

Most standard car insurance policies run for 12 months, but not everyone requires long-term cover and there is no point in paying for insurance that you don't need.

Whether you are borrowing a friend's car for the weekend, sharing the driving on a long trip or loaning your car to a relative who is coming to stay, the law dictates that every driver on UK roads must have, at least, third party cover.

The same is true if you are helping to teach someone to drive by allowing them to practice in your car with you alongside. However, with annual premiums costing hundreds or even thousands of pounds, you can save money by choosing cover that only lasts for as long as you need it.

What is short-term car insurance?

Short-term insurance can usually last for anything from one day to 28 days, so you can tailor it to ensure you are only paying for the insurance you need.

Where can I buy short-term car insurance?

Short-term insurance is generally quick and easy to take out. You can often apply online or over the phone, and the cover should kick in instantly if required.

If you buy and car and need to insure it immediately to drive it home, a one-day policy may be a better option than trying to arrange annual cover because it will give you more time to shop around for the best 12-month policy. It's also worth remembering that you can save hundreds of pounds on car insurance by buying an annual policy up to three weeks in advance, so you may be better off getting short term cover first. 

Comparison websites can help you to find the right deal by allowing you to compare competitive quotes from short-term insurance specialists, such as tempcover.com and dayinsure.com.

A guide to short-term car insurance

Who can take out short-term car insurance?

Most insurers will offer standard policies to drivers between the ages of 18 and 75, but when it comes to short-term insurance, however, the minimum age is normally 21.

What's more, the insurer may also require the driver to have a certain number of years' of experience behind the wheel, although a growing number of companies now also accept learner drivers with provisional licences.

Drivers with poor claims histories, several points on their licences, or previous motoring convictions may struggle to get short-term cover, though.

What are the alternatives to short-term car insurance?

If you have a comprehensive insurance policy, you may be covered to drive other people's cars (with their permission, of course).

However, many annual policies exclude cars not listed on the policy, and if you do have cover, it will be third party only leaving you liable for the cost of repairing any damage to the vehicle you are borrowing.

Another option is for the car owner to add the person who needs short-term cover as a named driver on his or her policy. If you are loaning your car to a relative, for example, you would need to add him or her to your insurance.

This could prove expensive, though, especially if your relative is young and inexperienced. Should he or she be involved in an accident, the owner of the vehicle would also risk losing his or her no claims bonus. For those in need of cover lasting more than 28 days, however, it may be worth checking out pay-as-you-go policies that can run for one, two or three months.