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When to Buy Temporary Auto Insurance

The question of when to buy temporary auto insurance is one that comes up among auto insurance consumers from time to time. Auto liability coverage is required in almost every state across the country, and as drivers most of us have traditional policies for our own vehicles, usually spanning six months or a year at a time. But certain situations in our experience as drivers call for more short term coverage choices. There are a number of examples of these situations that can shed more light on this option and its appropriateness in each case. Understanding what temporary auto coverage is and how to go about finding it can help you as a driver to better protect yourself in situations where a temporary policy is a good fit.

Auto Insurance Required Almost Everywhere

To begin with, it has to be acknowledged that the main pertinence of this question rests in the fact that in almost every state across the nation, auto insurance is a legal requirement for all drivers. If you want to get out on the road behind the wheel of a car, you need to make sure it is properly insured to avoid the punitive consequences of lack of insurance coverage. What's more, beyond those punitive measures there are also financial motivators moving us as drivers to make sure we're covered whenever we drive. The simple fact that auto insurance is a requirement leads us in a very specific direction when we make decisions related to driving cars that we own and any other vehicles as well.

This leads us into the question of temporary auto insurance. In most cases, it makes sense for us to enroll in coverage covering at least six months worth of time, just because of the hassle we have to go through to renew policies and the concern we have about possible rising premiums. But this general rule only specifically applies to cars we own and intend to hang onto for a while. There are many cases when you would not want to sign on for long term coverage on a vehicle, and these are the cases where temporary auto insurance become so handy.

A quick definition of temporary car insurance is in order at this point. Temporary auto insurance is quite simply a policy of shorter duration than a standard policy. In many cases temporary coverage can run between 1 and 28 days in length, and it most certainly would not go beyond a month, because at that point you'd be looking at month to month car insurance, a different coverage option altogether. Temporary auto insurance primarily differs from standard policies only in this one singular way. As a policy holder you can opt for all the same available areas of coverage as you can with a standard six month policy. For example, you can get collision coverage or medical benefits tacked on to your plan in addition to the liability coverage we all generally need to carry according to various state laws.

When Temporary Insurance is Needed

Moving beyond a definition of temporary insurance is a discussion of when it might be appropriate for drivers. There are several useful examples that can serve to represent the many different possible scenarios under which you might opt for this coverage. The first and most obvious example is when you rent a vehicle. It might be a car for a vacation or business trip, or it might be a large moving truck to get your things moved to a new home. Whatever the particular vehicle might be, you will need to be insured as a driver to legally operate the rental. Rental agencies offer insurance coverage to those renting their vehicles. If you opt for this coverage they will roll it right into the cost of your rental so it is fairly painless. And there is nothing wrong with looking into this option.

But do not pick up a rental car with the insurance plan the rental company offers until you understand its provisions and have examined its cost in relation to another option, which is to provide your own insurance. Many drivers do not realize (and rental companies are slow to point out) that in some cases your own auto insurance policy already has built in rental car coverage. Take the time to find out whether this might be the case before you spend money needlessly. At any rate, you will want to be insured one way or another, so choose the option that suits you best before you get behind the wheel of a rental car.

Another example of a time when temporary auto insurance might be a good idea is one not so obvious to most people. When you borrow a car from someone else, it is wise to consider getting a temporary auto policy for the duration of the time you'll be borrowing the car. Most of us simply assume that our friend's car insurance plan will cover us if anything should happen, and in some cases this is true. But it is not always true, and you should find out for sure before they hand you the keys.

On top of that fact, it is a good idea to consider getting a temporary auto insurance policy anyway even if the owner's insurance would cover you as a driver. This is to save on any increases in your friend's policy if anything should happen to force a claim while you are borrowing the car. This same principle applies to your own permanent policy when you are considering whether to use your rental car coverage for a car you're renting for a few days [1].

Even if it ends up amounting to overlapping or superfluous coverage, getting a temporary auto insurance policy can save an existing plan from premium rate increases if you get into an accident in the rented or borrowed car, so paying that few dollars a day can be worth it. Just having that peace of mind can go a long way if you are driving an unfamiliar car or a big moving van you are not used to operating. Confidence is important when we are behind the wheel. Having fewer things to worry about can help you better focus on the task at hand when you're driving, helping you to avoid unnecessary accidents and saving you money on your auto premiums long term. Whatever you have to do to be comfortable in your temporary driving situation is worth doing to prevent an accident.

Temporary auto plans are an interesting and useful option well worth considering in the right set of circumstances. If you are getting ready to rent a vehicle or borrow a car belonging to a friend or extended family member, you should look into the details of your own coverage to determine whether a need exists to add this type of temporary protection for the course of the time you'll be using that vehicle. Knowing when to buy temporary auto insurance and when you should choose other options requires and understanding of all the different factors involved and an ability to take them into account.

[1] Retrieved 2010-02-19.



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