This website uses cookies to enhance and provide your experience.

Guide to temporary car insurance

Temporary car insurance, otherwise known as short term car insurance is possible and may be suitable for you in certain situations. In the UK, it’s illegal to drive without car insurance and doing so could land you with a hefty fine and six points on your licence. If you don’t own a car, you are unlikely to have or need your own car insurance, but what if you want to borrow a car? What if you do have a car and want to lend it to a friend? These are just a few of the reasons why you might be looking for short term cover.

Thousands of drivers put themselves at risk every year thinking that, because their vehicle has comprehensive insurance, it acceptable to allow their friends and family to drive it. That’s not the case – unless the borrower has insurance specifically for that car, both the owner and the driver can face fines of thousands of pounds and driving bans.

Don’t ever assume that you can drive on another person’s existing insurance. The existing policy, even if it’s fully comprehensive, will only cover the car for third party damage if a person not named on the policy is driving it. This means that the insurer will pay out for any damage caused to another vehicle, but the one you are driving will not be covered. Further, any accident will count against the owner’s no claims bonus, so not only do they need to repair the damage to their car out of their own pocket (or yours), but their insurance will be more expensive in future.

The owner can add you to their policy as a named driver, but it will affect their no claims bonus if you are involved in an accident.

If you are insured for a different type of vehicle than the one you propose to drive, you may not even be covered by your own policy. For example, if your vehicle is insured as a van you use for work, you will not be covered to drive your friend’s domestic car, even if your insurance is fully comprehensive. If your insurance covers a little run-around and you then drive a high-performance car, you will not be covered. This is where temporary car insurance comes in.

What is temporary car insurance?

You can get temporary cover to drive a specific vehicle for between one hour to four weeks, depending on your needs. So, whether you need to drive your friend’s car for a weekend or are sharing the driving with friends on holiday, you will be fully covered against accidents. While most short-term policies protect the car owner’s no claims bonus, this varies between providers, so it’s worth checking by reading the small print.

How does temporary car insurance work?

If you don’t need a full year’s insurance cover, temporary car insurance provides you with fully comprehensive insurance for any period of time from one hour up to 28 days, and some will provide cover for up to 90 days or even five months for learner drivers.

You will need the permission of the owner of the vehicle to take out temporary insurance, but it is generally both quick and easy to arrange. It can start immediately, though you can also arrange it up to 30 days in advance.

The insurer will need information such as your full name and address, your driving history and licence details, information about the car you want to drive, when you want the policy to start, and for how long. If you have convictions for motoring offences, points on your licence or a history of past insurance claims, you may have difficulty getting temporary cover.

You will probably also be asked what you will be using the car for. This is called “class of use” and it influences the risk as seen by the insurer. This can affect the price of your premium. 
Examples of classes of use are:

  • Social, domestic and pleasure use – day-to-day driving to the shops, the school run, visiting friends and family, and driving on holidays. The car must not be used for work or business purposes.
  • Social and commuting – this covers social use above and use for commuting to work. You don’t need to drive all the way to work; if you use the car to drive to the railway station and take the train, that counts as commuting. Even regularly dropping a friend or member of the family at work may count as making commutes.
  • Business driving – using your car as an essential part of your job, by driving regularly between different location or travelling as a commercial salesperson or company representative, is classed as business driving. This tends to be the most expensive cover as there is a greater potential for accidental damage to your own or another vehicle. The other classes above are also included.

Temporary car insurance offers cover and peace of mind in a variety of situations, for example:

  • Car hire can be expensive, even though insurance is included. If you don’t have a car or yours is off the road for any reason, a friend or family member may be willing to lend you theirs. Temporary car insurance provides peace of mind for everyone. Do bear in mind that if the car owner wants you to pay some sort of hire charge, they should check with their own insurance company to ensure they are covered to do this.
  • Van hire is also expensive. If you are moving house and know someone willing to lend you a van, you can take out temporary insurance to cover you for the length of time you need the van, whether that be one day, a weekend or longer.
  • Car purchase: If you buy a new or used car from a dealer, a short-term policy is generally arranged allowing you to drive the car home and giving time for you to arrange your own insurance. If you buy a car privately, there is no insurance cover, so even one day’s temporary car insurance will cover you to drive the car home and arrange your own annual insurance.
  • Learner drivers can benefit from a temporary car insurance policy. If a friend or family member is teaching you to drive, taking out your own temporary policy ensures they won’t lose their no-claims bonus should you have an accident. Some companies will cover learner drivers for up to five months
  • Touring and holidays: If you are touring with friends or family and want to share the driving, it makes sense for each person to have their own insurance for the vehicle. Temporary insurance is very useful under such circumstances, and some UK based insurers will provide temporary cover for driving in the EU.
  • Rental cars: Insurance is generally included in the hire charge, but it would be wise to check on the actual cover provided. Some car-hire firms may only offer third party insurance, so you may feel it safer to take out temporary insurance cover and avoid being landed with huge repair bills in the event of an accident.

Can you get temporary car insurance for 17-year-olds?

Young drivers pay more for permanent insurance because they are considered high risk and because they are involved in a high proportion of accidents. Most temporary insurance providers are unwilling to insure anyone under 21 years of age, though some will offer temporary car insurance to young drivers aged between 17 – 20 on the conditions that:

  • You have held your licence for a minimum of 12 months
  • You do not have more than eight penalty points
  • You have no prosecutions pending

As ever, young drivers can expect to pay an increased premium compared with older, more experienced drivers

How much is temporary car insurance?

Most temporary car insurance offers the same benefits as fully comprehensive insurance and risk and premiums are calculated in much the same way as any other types of car insurance. Another factor affecting price is your age and driving experience and the type of car you want to drive. A cheaper car with a less powerful engine will be considerably less expensive to insure than a brand new, high-performance sports car, for example. 

The most cost-effective way to buy any form of insurance is to pay annually. The short-term nature of temporary car insurance means that it does cost more per day than annual car insurance.

However, driving without proper insurance could prove to have huge financial and personal consequences, leaving you with massive repair bills, fines and potentially without a licence. It’s therefore well worth the few extra pounds for protection and peace of mind.

As with everything, there are deals out there. Compare the pros and cons of several providers and select the one that provides the best value for money in terms of cover and protection for no claims bonus.

Can you tax a car with temporary car insurance?

Yes, you can. You can do this online, by telephone or at a post office. You should be mindful, however, that some post offices may not accept a 24 hour policy. 

Temporary car insurance is not a substitute for getting continuous insurance and it is, in fact, illegal to use it as such. If you have a vehicle registered in your name, the law requires that you keep it insured at all times, even if you only drive it occasionally.