Can I get car insurance for only one day?

If you only need car insurance for one day, you may already be covered by another policy or have several ways of purchasing limited coverage.

Kara McGinley


Kara McGinley

Kara McGinley

Property and Casualty Insurance Expert

Kara McGinley is an insurance editor at Policygenius, specializing in home, auto, and renters insurance. She's been writing about insurance since 2019, and her work and insights have been referenced in Kiplinger and

Published June 25, 2020|6 min read

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Key Takeaways

  • Car insurance policy periods are typically six months to a year. You generally cannot get short term car insurance or car insurance for one day only

  • If you borrow someone else’s car, you are covered under the car owner’s car insurance policy. If you borrow other people’s cars often, you should consider getting a non-owner car insurance policy

  • When renting a car, you can purchase additional rental car insurance coverage. Your credit card might offer rental car coverage too

In nearly all U.S. states, car owners need car insurance in order to legally drive on public roads. Even if car insurance isn’t required by your state, it’s still a good idea to buy a car insurance policy so that you’re financially protected in the event of an accident. Typically, car insurance has a policy period of either six months or one year.

If you are only driving for one day, you likely have options other than purchasing an auto insurance policy and cancelling it the next day. Short-term car insurance and temporary car insurance is not typically available in the United States, but there are a few ways you can make sure you’re protected if you only need to drive for one day.

In this article:

Do I need car insurance if I’m only driving one day?

You need car insurance when you drive so that you are financially protected from damages caused by an accident or a different event. That said, you do not need to go out and buy an auto insurance policy if you are driving a car for only one day. You’re likely already covered if you’re borrowing a car or renting one.

Driving uninsured could leave you thousands of dollars in debt in the event that you get into a car accident. Although it sounds unlikely, if you don’t own a car, there actually are quite a few circumstances in which you might think you need to buy a car insurance policy for only one day.

  • You’re renting a car

  • You’re taking turns driving during a road trip

  • You need to run an errand and drive your friend’s car

  • There’s an emergency and you need to drive

If you need to drive for any of the above reasons, you don’t necessarily need to buy car insurance. It’s a common misconception that insurance follows the driver and not the car. In most of the above cases, you’re probably already covered by the car owner’s insurance.

Car insurance when driving someone else’s car

If you need to drive someone else’s car for one day, and they give you their permission, you do not need to buy your own car insurance policy. If the owner of the car allows you to drive their vehicle, then you are covered by their policy under what is called “permissive use.”

Permissive use means that other drivers are covered by the vehicle owner’s car insurance. The car owner’s liability coverage will cover damage or injury you cause to others while driving their car. If the person whose car you are borrowing has collision insurance, their car would be protected from damage that happens to their car, no matter who is at fault.

This means if you are on a road trip or if you are running an errand in someone else’s car, you are protected under their car insurance, and you do not need to buy your own policy to drive their car every so often.

If you borrow a family member’s car often, and you live with that family member, you should be added to their auto insurance policy. Most insurers require all licensed drivers in the household to be listed on a policy.

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Car insurance for renting a car

If you have your own car insurance policy, it’s likely that your coverage extends to any rental car. That said, if you don’t have car insurance, you do not need to buy a standard auto insurance policy in order to rent a car.

When you rent a car through a rental company, it will include the minimum amount of liability coverage required in that state. If you want extra coverage, you can purchase additional insurance through the rental car company, which typically is charged at a daily rate. This is the same whether you are renting a SUV or a moving van.

If you pay for your rental car with a credit card, you might not even need to buy rental car insurance. Your credit card company might offer a limited amount of insurance coverage on the rental car. If you get into a covered accident or the car is stolen, the credit card company may reimburse you up to a certain dollar amount.

There are a few major credit cards that offer rental car insurance, including:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve cards

  • Chase Hyatt and Chase World of Hyatt cards

  • Chase United Explorer and United MileagePlus cards

  • Chase Amazon Rewards Visa Signature cards

  • American Express Green, American Express Gold, and American Express Platinum cards

  • American Express Hilton Honors and Starwood Preferred Guest cards

  • American Express Delta SkyMiles cards

  • Mastercard

  • Capital One Visa Platinum card

What is non-owner car insurance?

Non-owner car insurance is a type of insurance you can buy if you need car insurance coverage but do not own a car. Like we mentioned, when you borrow someone’s car you are typically covered by their insurance. However, if you drive other people’s cars frequently, or rent cars often, you might want to consider non-owner car insurance.

Non-owner car insurance generally only includes liability coverage, meaning it covers bodily injury (BI) and property damage (PD) that other people incur from an accident you caused. Some insurance companies might offer non-owner policies with personal injury protection and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage as add-ons.

Non-owner policies are not a short-term or temporary insurance policy. They have the same policy periods as traditional car insurance policies — typically six months or one year. A non-owner car insurance policy can also help you fulfill an SR-22 requirement if you’ve been required by the state to have car insurance but you don’t own a vehicle any longer.

Temporary car insurance for young drivers

Temporary car insurance is not typically available in the U.S., so if your teen gets their license, you will likely need to add them to your auto insurance policy, which will raise your rates. However, there are ways you can lower your premiums despite having a new or young driver on your policy, like if they pass a drivers education course.

If your child moves away for college and does not bring their car with them, you might be tempted to remove them from your policy. Instead of taking them off your auto insurance policy, you should talk to your car insurance company about reducing the coverage for your child’s car if they don’t bring the car with them to college. Some insurers also offer discounts when students move away for school, because they know that they’ll be driving the family car less. If your child gets good grades you could receive a discount for that, too.

Usage-based car insurance

If the reason you only want car insurance for one day is because you don’t drive often, you should consider buying a usage-based car insurance policy. Usage-based car insurance, also known as pay-per-mile or pay-as-you-drive, bases your premiums on how you actually drive.

Insurance companies can determine how often or how safe you drive based on a mobile-app that tracks your driving or a plug-in that you can plug into your car. The less you drive, or the more safely you drive, the cheaper your premiums are.

Many major insurance companies offer usage-based insurance as a program, and they will discount your premiums based on how often or safely you drive. Some insurance companies, like Root, offer exclusively usage-based car insurance, meaning your entire policy is based on your actual driving. The less you drive, or the more safely you drive, the cheaper your premiums are.

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