Temporary Auto Insurance (Situations to Use It)

Temporary auto insurance is available but can be hard to find. Car dealerships often offer temporary auto insurance when you buy a car with them to cover you until your personal insurance policy kicks in. Temporary auto insurance for a rental car is also an option from most rental car companies. If you're looking for affordable temporary auto insurance rates, enter your ZIP code below to start comparing quotes for free.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Insurance Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years Leslie Kasperowicz

UPDATED: Jun 6, 2022

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Here’s what you need to know…

  • Temporary auto insurance is available, but not through all auto insurance companies
  • Car dealerships can offer temporary insurance when you buy a car
  • Temporary auto insurance is a good deal if you only need insurance for a short time

When it comes to auto insurance, temporary car insurance may be the right choice for you depending on your unique needs. Today, we’re explaining everything you need to know about temporary auto insurance policies and answer the question do car dealerships offer temporary insurance.

Some of the other questions we will answer are:

  • Do dealerships offer insurance on new cars?
  • Do dealerships provide temporary insurance or ordinary insurance?
  • Do car dealerships have temporary insurance for used cars?

The best way to get the cheapest auto insurance coverage is to get multiple quotes to compare. Use our free tool to get multiple temporary car insurance quotes.

Temporary Auto Insurance Explained

First, let’s clarify what temporary auto insurance is and how it works.

Most auto insurance works on a long-term basis: you buy insurance for a 6-month or 12-month term, and your car insurance is automatically renewed for the lifetime of your vehicle. This is ordinary car insurance.

Temporary car insurance works in a different way. Temporary car insurance may be purchased for a single day, a week, or a month. It will generally provide the same coverages as ordinary car insurance, just for a shorter time.

When can you get temporary auto insurance?

You must first determine when to buy car insurance and what coverage is needed.

Let’s say you’re renting a moving truck from U-Haul for the day. You might buy temporary car insurance to cover the rental van.

Alternatively, you might buy temporary car insurance if you’re only in a location for two or three months. Let’s say you’re flying to Hawaii for work on a 2 or 3-month contract. Rental car insurance can get messy when renting for periods beyond 30 days.

Meanwhile, traditional car insurance providers may require a 6-month or 12-month commitment. You might need special temporary car insurance.

Some people also buy temporary car insurance if they’re away for a long vacation. You might be a snowbird flying south for the winter, for example. You buy temporary car insurance to cover your car up north during the summer months.

There are all sorts of reasons to buy temporary car insurance. Let’s take a closer look at how it’s used when purchasing a car.

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Dealer Temporary Auto Insurance

The automobile dealer’s insurance will cover any vehicles on its lot. Once a vehicle is purchased, the buyer will need to carry insurance on the vehicle.

You will need to know if car dealerships give temporary insurance. If they do not offer it, you would need to ask your insurance company about coverage.

In this section, we will cover some of the most common concerns about car dealerships and temporary car insurance. Keep reading to get your questions answered.

Can I buy a car from a dealership without insurance?

When buying a new car, insurance grace periods will typically cover you for a couple of days until you can get regular insurance, such as Geico’s new car grace period.

Some dealerships, for example, won’t allow you to drive off the lot unless you buy temporary car insurance or have concrete proof that your insurance extends to newly-purchased vehicles.

Do dealerships offer temporary insurance on new cars?

Yes, most dealerships offer temporary insurance on new cars. Some dealers even will require you to insurance in place when buying a new car.

You can also check with your usual car insurance company for temporary insurance.

Do I need insurance before I buy a used car?

Temporary car insurance is typically used when purchasing a used vehicle from somewhere other than the dealership.

You need to buy temporary car insurance to protect your car on the drive to your home. The car dealership allows you to buy temporary car insurance that covers you for the day or even the week; however, a private seller won’t have that option.

Once your car is safe at home in your garage, you can buy a full-term auto insurance policy. You can compare quotes online as you normally would. Your temporary car insurance expires, and your full-term car insurance begins.

If you are buying a used car, you will also want to check the vehicle’s history to make sure you know everything about it.

Do car dealers offer temporary insurance on used cars?

Yes, they offer the same temporary insurance when you buy used cars and new cars.

Again, check with your normal car insurance company to see what coverages they offer and if you even need temporary coverage.

Do I have to have auto insurance at all?

In most states, auto insurance is mandatory, although state requirements differ on the amount of liability insurance needed. Temporary auto insurance will have the same coverage, just for a shorter period of time.

In addition to liability insurance, collision coverage and comprehensive coverage are also common. These coverages help protect your car and people in your car, while liability coverage only extends to the property damage and bodily injury for others in an accident that you cause.

This video goes into detail about the types of car insurance available.

As you can see, there are many different types of car insurance coverage available to you. Pick your coverage based on your specific needs.

What happens if I drive without insurance?

Each state has its own penalties for driving without insurance. The table below lists the penalties by state. Use the search box to find your state.

Penalties for Driving Without Auto Insurance by State
StatesPrimary Fine for First Driving Uninsured OffenseOther Penalties for First Driving Uninsured Offense
AlabamaUp to $500Registration suspension with $200 reinstatement fee
AlaskaN/ALicense suspension for 90 days
Arizona$500 (or more)License/registration/license plate suspension for three months
Arkansas$50 to $250Suspended registration/no plates until proof of car insurance coverage plus $20 reinstatement fee; court may order impoundment
California$100-$200 plus penalty assessmentsCourt may order impoundment
Colorado$500 minimum fine4 points against your license; license suspension until you can show proof to the DMV that you are insured. Courts may add up to 40 hours community service
Connecticut$100-$1000Suspended registration/license for one month (show proof of insurance) with $175 reinstatement fee
Delaware$1,500 minimum fineLicense/privilege suspension for six months
FloridaN/ASuspension of license and registration until reinstatement fee is paid and non-cancelable coverage is secured; $150 fee for first reinstatement
GeorgiaN/ASuspended registration with $25 lapse fee and $60 reinstatement fee. Pay any other registration fees and vehicle ad valorem taxes due
Hawaii$500 fine or community service granted by judgeEither license suspension for three months or a required nonrefundable car insurance policy in force for six months
Idaho$75License suspension until financial proof. No reinstatement fee.
Illinois$500 minimumLicense plate suspension until $100 reinstatement fee and insurance proof
IndianaN/ALicense/registration suspension for 90 days to one year
Iowa$500 if in accident; Otherwise, fine: $250Community service in lieu of fine. Possible citation/warning if pulled over plus removal of plates and registration possible when pulled over without insurance and reissued upon payment of fine or completed community service, proof of insurance, and $15 fee; possible impoundment when pulled over
Kansas$300 to $1,000 Fine and/or confinement in jail up to six months; license/registration suspension; reinstatement fee: $100
Kentucky$500 to $1,000Fine and/or sentenced up to 90 days in jail; license plates and registration revoked for one year or until proof of insurance is shown
Louisiana$500 to $1,000If in car accident, fine plus registration revoked and driving privileges suspended for 180 days
Maine$100 to $500Suspension of license and registration until proof of insurance
MarylandN/ALose license plates and motor vehicle registration privileges; pay uninsured motorist penalty fees for each lapse of insurance — $150 for the first 30 days, $7 for each day thereafter; Pay a restoration fee of up to $25 for a vehicle's registration
Massachusetts$500 to $5,000Fine and/or imprisonment for one year or less
Michigan$200 to $500 Fine and/or imprisonment for one year or less; license suspension for 30 days or until proof of insurance; $25 service fee to Secretary of State
Minnesota$200 to $1,000 Fine (or community service) and/or imprisonment for up to 90 days; License and registration revoked for no more than 12 months
Mississippi$1,000Driving privileges suspended for one year or until proof of insurance
MissouriN/AFour points against driving record; driver may be supervised; suspended until proof of insurance with $20 reinstatement fee
Montana$250 to $500 Fine and/or imprisonment for no more than 10 days
NebraskaN/ALicense and registration suspension; reinstatement fee of $50 for each; proof of insurance to remain on file for three years
Nevada$250 to $1,000Registration suspension — until payment of reinstatement fee and, depending on circumstances, an SR-22 (proof of financial responsibility) if lapsed more than 90 days; reinstatement fee: $250
New HampshireN/ANot a mandatory insurance state. Proof of insurance may be required as the result of a conviction, crash involvement, or administrative action. If you are required to file proof of insurance and vehicles are registered in your name, you will be required to file an Owner’s SR-22 Certificate of Insurance.
New Jersey$300 to $1,000License suspension for one year; pay surcharges for three years in the amount of $250 per year
New MexicoUp to $300 Fine and/or imprisoned for 90 days; license suspension
New YorkUp to $1,500 if involved in accident plus $750 civil penaltyLicense and registration suspension – revoked for one year; suspension of license if without
insurance for 90 days; suspension lasts as long as registration suspension; Suspension of registration: equal to time without insurance or pays $8/day up to thirty days for which financial security was not in effect, $10/day from the thirty-first to the sixtieth day $12/day from the sixtieth to the ninetieth day and proof of security is provided. Or for the same time as the motor vehicle was operated without insurance.
North Carolina$50Registration suspension until proof of financial responsibility but 30-day suspension if in car accident or knowingly driving without insurance; $50 restoration fee plus license plate fee
North DakotaUp to $1,500 Fine and/or 30 days in prison; 14 points against license plus suspension; Proof of insurance must be provided for one year; license with a
notation requiring that person keep proof of liability insurance on file with the department. The fee for this license is $50, and the fee to remove
this notation is $50.
OhioN/ALicense/plates/registration suspension until requirements are met and $100 reinstatement fee is paid; maintain special high-risk coverage on file with the BMV for three to five years; If involved in accident without insurance: all above penalties and a security suspension for two plus years and an indefinite judgment suspension (until all damages are satisfied)
Oklahoma$250Jail time up to 30 days; license suspension with $275 reinstatement fee. Police can seize license plates and assign temporary plates and liability insurance — in effect for 10 days and can also impound the vehicle. The cost of the temporary coverage is added to the administrative fee and any fines paid for plates to be returned. If the car isimpounded, the owner must also pay towing and storage fees.
Oregon$130-$1000 ($260 is the presumptive fine)If involved in accident — at least a one year license suspension; proof of financial responsibility required for three years
PennsylvaniaN/ARegistration suspended for three months (unless lapse was for less than 31 days and vehicle not operated during that time); $88 restoration fee plus proof of insurance required to get it back; $500 civil penalty fee is optional in lieu of registration suspension plus $88 restoration fee — can only use this option once within a 12-month period
Rhode Island$100 to $500License and registration suspension up to three months; reinstatement fee: $30 to $50
South Carolina$100-$200 Fine or 30-day imprisonment; failure to surrender registration and plates when insurance lapses; license/registration suspended until proof of insurance plus $200 reinstatement fee
South Dakota$100Fine and/or 30 days imprisonment; license suspension for 30 days to one year; filing proof of insurance (SR-22) with the state for three years from date of conviction. Failure to file proof will result in suspension of vehicle registration, license plates, and driver license.
TennesseeN/APay $25 coverage failure fee within 30 days of notice; if not paid, then an additional $100 coverage failure fee with suspension or revocation of registration plus reinstatement fee of no more than $25
Texas$175 to $350 Pay up to a $250 surcharge every year for three years (may be reduced with certain requirements)
Utah$400License suspension until proof of insurance (maintained for three years) and $100 reinstatement fee
VermontUp to $500License suspended until proof of insurance
VirginiaMay pay $500 Uninsured Motorists Vehicle fee to drive without insurance at your own risk. If this fee is not paid in lieu of insurance, all driving and vehicle registration privileges will be suspended until a $500 statutory fee is paid, proof of insurance is filed for three years, and a reinstatement fee (if applicable) is paid
WashingtonUp to $250 or moreN/A
West Virginia$200 to $5,000License suspended for 30 days with reinstatement fees, unless there's proof of insurance and $200 penalty fee
WisconsinUp to $500N/A
WyomingUp to $750Up to six months in jail
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As you can see, there are stiff penalties for driving without car insurance. Make sure you are covered, either with a normal policy or temporary insurance.

Can I drive a car without insurance if I just bought it?

That depends on if you currently have car insurance. Many companies will give you a grace period where they cover any new cars purchased.  You will want to check with your car insurance company to make sure they have this service. If not, you can’t drive a car without being insured.

How to Find Cheap Temporary Auto Insurance

Many of America’s leading car insurance companies also provide temporary auto insurance. Other companies specialize in providing short-term auto insurance.

Is temporary car insurance expensive?

The first thing to consider is just how much is temporary car insurance. Temporary car insurance is not expensive if you are only using it for a short amount of time. It can get very expensive if you keep it long term.

Temporary coverage is around $15 a day, which is pretty cheap. But if you kept that coverage for a month, that adds up to $450. It can get more expensive the longer you keep it.

With an ordinary policy, you can qualify for additional discounts to help bring down your rates and make your policy even cheaper.

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Reasons to Buy Temporary Insurance

In other situations, you might buy temporary car insurance when lending a vehicle to someone else. You might trust your own driving skills but are less certain about someone else’s driving ability. In this situation, you may wish to buy temporary car insurance during the day on which you plan to lend the vehicle to a friend.

You might add supplemental insurance – like higher coverage limits – when lending your vehicle, for example. Or, you could buy an entirely new policy to cover the borrowing period.

Others use temporary insurance when moving RVs, motorcycles, sports cars, or another type of vehicle only driven at certain times of the year. You might have purchased an RV in another state, for example, and are planning to drive it home.

You buy temporary insurance to cover the RV while you get it to its final destination. Snowbirds may use a similar strategy when relocating from south to north and vice versa.

Finally, some people use temporary car insurance if they simply cannot afford to buy a 6-month or 12-month insurance policy at this time.

If you cannot afford a long-term insurance policy and don’t have enough credit to set up a monthly payment plan with your insurer, then you may need to buy temporary car insurance.

When is temporary car insurance needed?

Some of the most common reasons to buy temporary car insurance include:

  • You are in between car insurance policies, but you still need to drive
  • You are insuring a rental car or another vehicle for a cross-country road trip; say, when relocating to a new state or driving south for the winter
  • Friends, relatives, or house guests are renting your vehicle for a brief period of time
  • You only have possession of the vehicle temporarily
  • You are leaving your car in storage but still want some level of insurance on the vehicle
  • You are preparing to sell a vehicle; you want to temporarily insure it to move it around or show it to potential buyers
  • A university student is home for a break and needs to drive the vehicle for a brief period of time
  • You give your child a vehicle to put in his or her name
  • You just purchased a vehicle from a car dealership and need temporary car insurance to drive it home

In some of the situations above, you may not need to buy temporary car insurance at all. Your car insurance might provide adequate coverage.

When lending your car to someone else, for example, your car insurance should remain active. As long as the other individual has permission to drive your vehicle, your car insurance follows the vehicle.

Do I need temporary car insurance when renting a car?

When renting a car, your credit card company might extend coverage. As long as you buy the rental car using your credit card and your credit card has rental car coverage, then you may not need to buy temporary car insurance for your rental car.

Your credit card’s rental car insurance coverage may not cover non-standard vehicles: it would cover an economy vehicle but not a moving truck, for example.

We recommend reading your car insurance policy or contacting your insurance agent to determine if you need temporary coverage.

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Short Term Car Insurance Factors

Short-term car insurance may be the right choice for you. Other things you need to know about temporary auto insurance include:

  • Typically, a temporary auto insurance policy is taken out for a period of 1 to 28 days. If you are planning to have insurance for more than, say, 1 month, then you may want to find a month-to-month car insurance policy
  • Alternatively, many temporary auto insurance companies allow you to extend your coverage beyond the 28-day limit
  • Avoid buying low coverage limits on your temporary car insurance coverage if driving a high-end vehicle; many people buy the cheapest possible temporary coverage, only to get into an accident and find the insurance barely covers any of the costs
  • Make sure you understand the temporary auto insurance coverage; some temporary car insurance policies have many exclusions that make it difficult to make a claim
  • Check your temporary car insurance policy to verify it has coverage for “Acts of God”, for example; some temporary car insurance policies will not pay out a claim if your car was damaged during a storm, a hurricane, or a similar “Act of God” scenario
  • Verify whether the temporary car insurance provides just basic liability coverage or if it’s a full coverage policy; a full coverage policy would include coverage for theft, vandalism, and environmental damage, while a basic liability policy may only include coverage for collisions with other vehicles

You might already have automatic temporary car insurance through your existing policy, your credit card company, or your rental car company. Make sure you’re not over-insuring yourself and paying for car insurance that you don’t need.

Just like with ordinary insurance, rates and coverages offered will differ from company to company. The best way to get the coverage and rates you want is to get multiple quotes.

Compare temporary car insurance quotes online to find the right policy for you. Just enter your ZIP code in our online form to get started.

Frequently Asked Questions

These are some more commonly asked questions about temporary car insurance.

Do dealerships give temporary insurance for free?

If you’re buying a new vehicle from a car dealership, the dealership may require you to buy temporary car insurance from the dealer before driving it off the lot. There is a cost and it is typically more expensive if you go through a car dealership for insurance.

Do dealerships offer insurance on their cars for a test drive?

In most cases, the automobile dealership insurance will cover any damages that might be incurred on a test drive. You should not have to carry additional coverage.

However, if you are driving recklessly, you may be held liable for damages.

Do dealerships give you temporary insurance on loaner vehicles?

You may or may not need to add temporary insurance on a loaner vehicle from a dealership. It will depend on if the dealership’s insurance covers any damages and if your normal car insurance company covers loaners.

It is important to ask the dealer if loaner vehicles are covered by their insurance. You do not want to have an accident and then find out you are not covered.

Your carrier may consider a loaner vehicle the same as a rental, in which case your coverage will depend on your policy. In that case, you will need to find out if your policy covers rentals and if the coverage you carry will be enough for the loaner vehicle.

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