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rental car damage and liability insurance

How to get temporary insurance for a car?

image of a classic car parking lot

Temporary car insurance refers to short-term auto coverage lasting less than the typical 6-12 month policy period. There are several options to get temporary insurance if you only need to drive a car occasionally:

  • Non-owner insurance - Covers you when borrowing or renting a car

  • Pay-per-mile insurance - You pay based on miles driven

  • Rental car insurance - Provided by rental companies

  • Using an existing policy - Get coverage through a friend's or family member's insurance

  • Reducing coverage on your own policy - Lower limits or remove collision coverage

While you can't buy daily or weekly policies, these alternatives allow you to meet state requirements and get coverage without committing to a long-term standard policy.

Use Existing Coverage

When borrowing someone else's car, you may already be covered by their insurance policy's permissive use clause. This extends their liability coverage to you as long as:

  • You have the owner's permission to drive the vehicle

  • You drive the vehicle infrequently or on an occasional basis

  • You don't use the vehicle for any business or commercial purposes

Before driving a friend or family member's car, have them verify with their insurance company that you are covered. Keep in mind:

  • Coverage may be limited, depending on the policy

  • You are responsible for any damage exceeding the policy limits

  • An at-fault accident could increase the owner's premiums

Being added to someone else's policy is another option if you:

  • Live in the same household and regularly use their car

  • Frequently borrow the same car

  • Don't have your own car insurance

Insurers typically require drivers who live together or regularly use a policyholder's car to be listed on the policy. Advantages:

  • You get the same coverage limits as the primary policyholder

  • Easy to add and remove drivers from a policy


  • May increase policy premiums, especially if you have a poor driving history

  • Dependent on the policyholder maintaining continuous coverage

To get added to a friend or family member's policy:

  1. Ask to be listed as a driver

  2. Provide your license, driving history, etc.

  3. Get proof you're covered before driving the car

At-fault accidents or traffic violations on a borrowed vehicle still affect your driving record and insurability even if you're not the policyholder. Maintaining your own insurance is safest if you frequently drive vehicles you don't own.

How to Reduce Your Existing Policy's Coverage

If you already have car insurance but only drive occasionally, you can modify your existing policy to lower costs instead of canceling it completely. This avoids gaps in coverage that could increase your rates in the future.

Lower Liability Limits

Liability insurance covers damage or injuries you cause to others in an at-fault accident. The minimum liability limits are:

  • Bodily Injury: $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident

  • Property Damage: $10,000 per accident

However, experts recommend 100/300/100 limits or higher for adequate protection. If your car will be sitting unused, you can lower your limits to the minimums allowed in your state to reduce premiums temporarily.


  • Still legally covered to drive

  • Lower premium payment


  • Insufficient coverage if you cause a serious accident

  • Potentially illegal you drive a car during this period

Lower Liability Limits in New York

In New York State the minimum liability limits are:

  • Bodily Injury: $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident

  • Property Damage: $10,000 per accident

Lowering these minimums reduces your premiums if your car sits unused.

Remove Collision/Comprehensive Coverage

Eliminating collision and comprehensive coverage isn't recommended if you plan to drive your car at all. But if your car will be in storage, you can remove these optional coverages:

  • Collision: Covers damage to your car from an at-fault accident

  • Comprehensive: Covers damage from theft, vandalism, weather, etc.


  • Reduce premiums significantly

  • The car still insured for liability


  • No coverage for vehicle damage

  • Higher rates when re-adding coverage

Remove Collision and Comprehensive in Alaska

In Anchorage, Alaska you can remove these optional coverages if your car is in storage:

  • Collision - Damage to your car from an accident

  • Comprehensive - Damage from theft, weather, vandalism

This significantly reduces premiums for an unused vehicle while keeping mandatory liability insurance.

Car Storage Insurance

Some insurers offer specialized car storage insurance that maintains liability coverage at a very low cost if you store your car for an extended time and don't drive it. Requirements may include:

  • Notification period before driving again

  • Photos documenting storage conditions

  • Mileage checks

This avoids a lapse in coverage while keeping costs minimized.


  • Low premium payment

  • No coverage lapse


  • Limited availability from major insurers

  • Restrictions on driving and vehicle access

Carefully review the conditions to qualify for car storage insurance and follow all requirements. Failing to notify your insurer before driving the car again could negate coverage.

Cancel Policy Early

Since most standard auto insurance policies are 6 or 12 months long, one way to get temporary coverage is to purchase a policy and cancel it when no longer needed.

How It Works

  1. Buy 6-month or 1-year policy upfront

  2. Make monthly payments if allowed

  3. Cancel the policy via phone, email, or the insurer's website

  4. Receive a pro-rated refund for any unused months

You can cancel at any time for any reason. Some insurers charge a cancellation fee, usually $50 or less.


  • Only pay for the months you need insurance

  • Flexible cancellation timeline


  • Gap in insurance could increase future premiums

  • Pre-paying for the full policy period is expensive

Avoiding Gaps in Coverage

Canceling your auto insurance policy mid-term leaves you completely uninsured, risking financial disaster if an accident occurs. This coverage gap also makes you a high-risk driver that insurers will overcharge for years.

According to insurance data analyzed by The Zebra, drivers with a prior gap in insurance paid 81% more on average for identical policies versus continuously insured drivers. Rates remained inflated for 3-5 years after the lapse.

"Any insurance gap is seen as irresponsible by insurers," says Bob Johnson, an independent insurance agent with over 20 years of experience. "Even a brief 2-week lapse could open the door to double or triple your rates when policy shopping next time."

Johnson recommends maintaining continuous minimum coverage to avoid gaps at all costs. "Paying a higher premium for 3-5 years will easily cost you thousands more compared to keeping basic insurance active when you don’t need full coverage."

When Canceling Is Appropriate

Canceling outright makes sense only if you:

  • Sold the insured vehicle

  • No longer own a vehicle and don't plan to in the future

In these cases, canceling entirely eliminates insurance you no longer need. Just be sure to:

  • Remove your license plates

  • Notify your state DMV you no longer own the car

Never drive without insurance. An uninsured accident has severe consequences including:

  • Fines up to $500 plus court fees

  • License/registration suspension

  • Mandatory SR-22 filing for 3 years

Maintain continuous coverage as long as you own a vehicle.

Non-Owner Insurance

Non-owner car insurance, also called named operator policies, provides liability coverage when you drive cars that you don't own. It's a good option if you:

  • Frequently borrow or rent vehicles

  • Own no personal vehicles

  • Need to file an SR-22 form with the DMV

Non-owner policies have terms of 6 months or 1 year and typically include:

  • Bodily injury and property damage liability

  • Personal injury protection (PIP)

  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage

Collision and comprehensive coverage are not included since you don't own a car to insure.


  • Cheaper than regular car insurance since less coverage

  • Flexible policy terms and easy cancellation

  • Covers you when driving various borrowed/rental cars


  • Does not cover damage to vehicles you drive

  • Minimal coverage may be insufficient after a serious at-fault accident

When to Consider Non-Owner Insurance

  • You sold your car and are between vehicles

  • You borrow cars frequently from family/friends

  • You rely on rental cars and car-sharing services

  • You have a license but no personal vehicle

For young drivers with no car, non-owner insurance establishes driving history. Overall, it provides affordable temporary coverage for unowned cars that fit your exact needs.

Adding Coverage

Non-owner policies typically meet state minimums for liability insurance. Consider adding:

  • Medical payments - Covers injuries to you or passengers in your car

  • Rental reimbursement - Pays for a rental if the borrowed car is in the shop after a covered loss

  • Roadside assistance - Pays for towing and labor if the car breaks down


You can usually cancel a non-owner policy at any time. Give written notice to your insurer and get a refund for any unused months. There are rarely early cancellation fees.

Non-owner insurance gives flexible, inexpensive liability coverage when driving cars that don't belong to you. It's an ideal temporary insurance solution for many drivers' situations.

Pay-Per-Mile Insurance

Pay-per-mile insurance, also known as usage-based insurance, is best suited for drivers who don't use their cars frequently. With traditional insurance, your rates depend partly on estimated annual mileage. Pay-per-mile bases your premium on your actual mileage driven.

How It Works

  1. Get a telematics device installed in your car

  2. Drive as normal while the device tracks mileage

  3. Insurer bills you per mile driven each month

Rates range from 1-10¢ per mile depending on your risk profile. You pay a base rate plus per-mile charges.


  • Only pay for miles actually driven

  • Lower premiums if you drive minimally

  • Can change plans if driving habits change


  • Higher premiums if you drive more than estimated

  • Privacy concerns over mileage tracking

  • Upfront installation fees for telematics device

Best For

Pay-per-mile insurance works for drivers who:

  • Work from home or are retired

  • Use public transportation regularly

  • Own a car but drive rarely

  • Added a teen to their policy who doesn't drive much

It provides affordable temporary insurance when your car stays parked more often than not. The less you drive, the more you save.

Major Insurers Offering Pay-Per-Mile

  • Allstate Milewise

  • Liberty Mutual ByMile

  • Metromile

  • Mile Auto

  • State Farm Drive Safe & Save

Each uses different devices to track mileage. Apps, OBD plug-ins, and GPS units are common.

Is It Right for You?

Pay-per-mile insurance fits well if you drive:

  • Less than 7,500 miles per year

  • Only on weekends

  • Just for occasional errands

Compare your estimated mileage to quotes from pay-per-mile insurers. It likely makes sense if your driving is minimal.

Pay-per-mile insurance gives affordable, short-term coverage tied directly to the amount you drive. It's ideal for low-mileage drivers needing temporary car insurance.

Rental Car Insurance

When renting a car, you have three options for insurance coverage:

  1. The rental company's basic policy

  2. Additional rental company coverage

  3. Third-party specialty rental insurance

Most rental and car-sharing services include basic liability insurance that meets minimum state requirements. But this leaves gaps in coverage you may want to fill.

Rental Company Coverage Options

These are add-ons to the basic liability policy and cost extra per day:

  • Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) - Covers damage to the rental car if it's stolen or in an accident.

  • Supplemental liability - Increases your liability coverage beyond state minimums.

  • Personal accident insurance - Covers medical expenses for injuries to you or passengers.

  • Personal effects coverage - Protects your belongings in the car from theft or damage.

Coverage levels and pricing vary by rental company. CDW can cost $10-$30 extra per day.


  • Covers the exact rental car you're driving

  • Can be added on the spot when renting

  • The claims process may be simpler through the rental company


  • More expensive than third-party insurance

  • Overlaps with credit card coverage you may already have

Third-Party Specialty Rental Insurance

Insurers like Allianz, CS&A, and Velosure offer insurance specifically for rental cars. Policies span 1-30 days.

Typical coverages:

  • Collision/comprehensive

  • Loss of use - Pays rental company for time car is out of service

  • Towing reimbursement

  • Roadside assistance


  • Much less expensive than rental company insurance

  • Start coverage when you pick up the vehicle

  • Cancel anytime for a prorated refund

Third-party rental insurance gives affordable, short-term coverage for rental and borrowed vehicles. Compare options to find the best temporary car insurance fit.

Rental Car Insurance Options in Florida

When renting a car in Orlando, Florida you have three main insurance options:

Rental Company Insurance

These are add-ons to the basic liability policy:

  • Collision Damage Waiver - Covers damage to the rental car

  • Supplemental Liability Protection

Usually more expensive but covers that specific rental car.

Third-Party Specialty Insurance

From insurance companies like Allianz and Velosure.

Much less expensive but provides minimal coverage. Offers flexible cancellation.

Credit Card Insurance

Provided as a benefit of premium travel cards like:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve

  • American Express Gold

Free additional coverage when you use that card to rent the car. But has limits.

Compare options to see which rental car insurance fits your situation best.

Credit Card Insurance

Many credit cards provide rental car insurance as a benefit to cardholders. This can supplement or replace the rental company's coverage options.

How It Works

  • Use your eligible credit card to reserve and pay for the rental car

  • Damage to the rental is covered under the card's policy

There's no extra cost - it's a free benefit you get by paying with that card.

Coverage Provided

Coverage varies but may include:

  • Collision damage waiver - Pays for damage to the rental vehicle

  • Liability protection - Covers bodily injury and property damage to others

  • Personal effects coverage - Reimburses for stolen or damaged items in the rental car

  • Towing, rental reimbursement - Pays for towing and provides a rental car while repairs are made

Key limitations:

  • Only valid for rental periods of 15-60 days typically

  • Doesn't cover leased/hired cars besides standard rentals


  • Free additional coverage

  • No deductible

  • Already have a card so minimal effort


  • Variable coverage depending on credit card

  • May exclude certain types of vehicles

  • Doesn't cover your own auto policy deductible

Cards Offering Rental Coverage

Nearly all premium travel credit cards have some form of rental car coverage. Top options include:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve

  • American Express Platinum and Gold

  • Citi Prestige

  • U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve

Check your card's benefits guide for details or call the number on the back of your card. Using the right card can provide free insurance for short-term rentals.

Reasons for Temporary Insurance

There are many situations where drivers need car insurance coverage for a short time:

College Students

Students who leave their car at home don't need insurance while away at school. But coverage is needed when driving during school breaks. Options include:

  • Stay on parents' policy and reduce mileage

  • Purchase non-owner insurance for breaks

  • Buy cheap usage-based coverage if the car is at school

Lapses in coverage can increase future rates. Maintain minimal coverage when not driving.

International Visitors

Visitors to the U.S. need insurance when renting or borrowing a car. Options include:

  • The rental car company's liability insurance

  • Specialty rental car insurance

  • Non-owner insurance for longer visits

  • Pay-per-mile insurance if leasing a car short-term

Check that policies cover accidents in the U.S. Avoid gaps between rentals.

Seasonal Vehicles

For cars driven only part of the year, consider:

  • Reducing liability limits in off-months

  • Removing collision/comprehensive temporarily

  • Pay-per-mile or non-owner insurance

  • Listing the car as in storage for a cheaper basic liability

Keep coverage continuous even if minimized. Reinstate full coverage before driving again.

Between Vehicles

When transitioning between cars, maintain coverage:

  • Keep old policy active until taking ownership of next car

  • Overlap policies by 1-2 weeks when buying a replacement vehicle

  • Get non-owner insurance if you'll be without a car for a while

Borrowing Cars

When you insure any borrowed vehicles temporarily:

  • Verify you're covered under the owner's policy

  • Buy non-owner insurance for frequent borrowing

  • Consider pay-per-mile insurance if borrowing the same car regularly

Other Situations

  • Young drivers who don't have their own car

  • People who primarily use public transportation or taxis

  • Returning military members between deployments

Wherever you find yourself needing a temporary driving solution, there are insurance options to keep you covered. The key is avoiding uninsured gaps in coverage.

Here are common situations when you may require short-term auto insurance:

College Students in Austin, Texas

  • Leave the car at home while away at the University of Texas

  • Only need coverage when driving on breaks and holidays

International Visitors in Los Angeles

  • Require coverage when renting a car to drive from LAX to tourist destinations

  • Policies must cover accidents anywhere in the United States

Seasonal Vehicles in Chicago

For cars only driven in the summer months:

  • Reduce liability limits in winter

  • Remove collision coverage temporarily

  • Consider pay-per-mile insurance

Between Vehicles in Houston

When trading in your old car for a new one:

  • Keep the old policy active until you drive a new car off the lot

  • Get non-owner insurance for 1-2 weeks in between

Borrowing a Car in Miami

To insure your neighbor's car for a day trip:

  • Verify their policy covers additional drivers

  • Consider pay-per-mile insurance for extra protection


Getting temporary car insurance requires finding alternatives to traditional long-term policies. The best options include:

  • Non-owner insurance for frequent borrowing and rentals

  • Pay-per-mile insurance for low-mileage drivers

  • Rental car insurance through rental agencies or third parties

  • Reducing coverage on an existing policy during periods of non-use

Avoid completely canceling insurance, which causes gaps in coverage and higher future premiums. Only cancel if you sold your car and don't plan to get another.

Maintaining continuous coverage meets legal requirements, protects your assets, and keeps insurance affordable. With a bit of planning, you can find the right temporary car insurance solution for your specific situation and budget.

The key is finding an option that provides sufficient coverage levels while fitting your exact short-term needs. Do your research to make sure you stay fully protected on the road.

Other readers were also interested in the following articles

Comprehensive coverage for rental cars: What you need to know

Does My Comprehensive Car Insurance Cover Me to Drive Another Car?

Affordable Non-Owners Car Insurance: An Ultimate Guide

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