Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insuran...

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Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager Chris Harrigan

UPDATED: Apr 13, 2022

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Key takeaways...

  • Individuals who buy short-term policies shouldn’t necessarily skimp on coverage amounts
  • Purchasing a short-term insurance policy when borrowing a car can protect the owner from future liability
  • Having all necessary insurance documentation on hand when driving temporarily can prevent negative legal outcomes
  • Using online portals that specialize in comparing insurance policies can result in significant savings

While the average auto insurance policy may run from six to 12 months, short-term car insurance policies are also available for individuals who need to drive for very brief periods.

While these short-term plans may be convenient, there are some important points insurance comparison shoppers will want to keep in mind to get the most out of their short-term contracts.

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Options When Selecting Short Term Insurance Coverage


Even though short-term insurance coverage may only be in force for brief amounts of time, this doesn’t mean that people who plan on purchasing short-term policies should skimp on coverage types or levels.

The following sections provide a list of coverage options that quick term insurance shoppers should keep in mind as they comparison shop:

Liability Insurance Coverage

Since individuals who need to operate a vehicle for a couple of hours are just as likely to get into an accident as anyone else, it makes sense that they would want to do everything in their power to ensure that they’re covered as securely as possible before they hit the open road.

The first type of coverage they will want to take a look at is called liability insurance.

This type of insurance coverage is generally mandated by state governments because it protects people and property from any damages or injuries that may arise from an auto accident.

It comes in two basic varieties known as property damage liability and bodily injury liability.

  • Property damage liability – covers damages that the driver of the insured vehicle causes to another car or other form of property.
  • Bodily injury liability – pays for the costs associated with physical injuries or death caused by the driver of a vehicle.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP)

Personal injury protection coverage is also usually mandated by law. PIP is designed to cover the costs of injuries sustained by drivers and passengers. PIP also frequently pays policyholders for any lost wages.

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Non-Mandatory Coverages to Consider

The next class of optional insurance plans is known as collision and comprehensive coverage.

  • Collision coverage – is designed to pay for damages that are sustained by the vehicle of the policy owner due to a collision. These collisions can include accidents that are caused by the driver themselves or those caused by someone else.
  • Comprehensive coverage – protects drivers against damages caused by natural events, such as hail, storms, fire, and similar incidents. Comprehensive policies also sometimes cover damage from vandalism or theft.
  • Glass coverage – pays for repairs in the event that the windshield or other windows in the insured vehicle become damaged. Since it only takes a second for a pebble on the highway to shatter a windshield, it makes sense for individuals who are driving a vehicle for a couple of hours to secure this coverage.

Common Situations that Call for Short-Term Auto Insurance


The following items are a short list of some situations that may make getting car insurance for a couple of hours necessary.

When borrowing a car

While it may be tempting to jump in a friend or family members car and run a few errands, this move can be fraught with danger.

Even if the owner of the vehicle has insurance, if the driver causes any damage to person or property the owner could end up getting stuck with the bill. Thus, by taking out a two or three-hour policy individuals can protect their loved ones from liability.

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When renting a van or moving truck

People who don’t already have insurance coverage may sometimes be barred from renting certain kinds of vehicles. By taking out a short-term insurance policy, such individuals can qualify for rental and driving privileges.

When test driving a vehicle

People who are out shopping for new cars often enjoy taking possible purchases for a drive. These vehicles tend to be newer, and thus damaging these cars can be expensive.

By taking out a short-term policy before setting out for test drives, individuals can ensure that they are fully protected.

Documentation to Have Handy When Driving on Short-Term Insurance

Individuals who are planning to use a vehicle for a few hours and who may be operating across state lines will want to take certain protective measures.

  • First of all, people who plan to drive in other jurisdictions should make sure that they understand the temporary insurance laws in these areas. By doing so, drivers can have any mandatory coverage types in place before embarking on their journeys.
  • It is also a good idea for short-term insurance operators to have hard copies of any relevant insurance-related paperwork. For example, insurance companies often issue customers a document known as an SR-22.
  • Another piece of paperwork that drivers may want to have is called an auto insurance declaration page. This document sums up the provisions of a given insurance policy and includes items like premium, coverage amounts, and duration.

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How to Save Money When Purchasing Short-Term Insurance


Short-term insurance prices can vary widely. Since this is the case, individuals can often save significant amounts of cash by insurance comparison shopping.

By making use of the services of websites that specialize in listing the prices and services of insurance companies, individuals can compare the policies of many different insurance firms in one place.

When comparing various policies, shoppers will want to remember to compare oranges to oranges. In other words, they will want to directly compare similar insurance coverage types and coverage limits.

By doing so, short-term insurance shoppers will be getting a clear picture of exactly what each policy and company is capable of providing.

It’s easy to see that there is more than meets the eye to short-term insurance. That being said, insurance seekers who keep this article in mind as they shop can certainly expect to find effective coverage for reasonable prices.

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