Q

Can you get one-day car insurance?

A

Providers don't offer one-day auto insurance policies, but drivers who only need coverage for one day may already be covered by another policy.

Kara McGinleyAndrew Hurst

By 

Kara McGinley

Kara McGinley

Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Kara McGinley is an editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she writes about homeowners and renters insurance. As a journalist and as an insurance expert, her work and insights have been featured in Kiplinger, Lifehacker, MSN, WRAL.com, and elsewhere.

 & Andrew Hurst

Andrew Hurst

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Andrew Hurst is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. His work has also been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, NPR, Mic, Insurance Business Magazine, ValuePenguin, and Property Casualty 360.

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Although one-day car insurance isn’t available, you can sometimes get coverage for short periods of time. Even if they're only driving a car for one day, in most cases, drivers shouldn't purchase a six-month or year-long car insurance policy and cancel it the next day.

Instead of trying to find one-day, week-to-week or month-to-month car insurance, occasional drivers may be better off buying auto insurance for a rental car, non-owner car insurance or pay-per-mile coverage. Drivers who are borrowing someone's car for a short time don't need to get one-day car insurance, either. They will already be covered by the vehicle's regular car insurance policy.

Key Takeaways

  • Insurance companies don't typically offer one-day car insurance, week-to-week, or month-to-month plans.

  • While drivers can't buy car insurance for one day, they may have other options for short-term coverage, such as a non-owner policy and rental car insurance — and more.

  • Because drivers who borrow someone else's car are already covered by the vehicle's existing auto policy, they don't need one-day car insurance.

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Who can get one-day car insurance?

Car insurance companies don't sell one-day policies. Instead, coverage typically lasts for six months or one year. Insurance companies appearing to offer short-term coverage for one day, one week or one month may be misleading customers to gather personal information.

While drivers looking for one-day car insurance can purchase a regular policy and cancel it after one day for a refund, this is not recommended. 

To avoid legal penalties and paying for potential damage themselves, car owners should have insurance for their vehicles — even if they don't drive regularly. Also, drivers who cancel an auto insurance policy for extended periods of time while they still own their cars often pay more for coverage in the future, as insurers can view this as a lapse in coverage.

When do you need one-day car insurance?

Drivers looking for temporary auto insurance for only one day may already be covered by an existing policy, or may need another form of insurance altogether.

For example, you may think you need one-day car insurance to drive a friend's car for a short period, like to run errands. But you don't actually need to buy a short-term policy in this situation, as you will already be covered by the vehicle's car insurance.

However, you should consider a non-owner policy instead of looking for one-day insurance if you drive another person's car frequently. A non-owner policy provides liability protection — though not comprehensive or collision protection — at a lower cost than regular car insurance. 

If you often use a family member's car you should be added to their auto insurance policy. Most insurers require all licensed drivers living in the same household to be listed on a vehicle's policy. 

How is same-day insurance different from one-day car insurance?

Some people who search for one-day car insurance actually want same-day car insurance — policies that start the same day that they're purchased. Same-day or next-day car insurance is available from most car insurance companies.

To get same-day car insurance coverage, drivers can call or request an online quote and compare rates to find the best option. Then, drivers can set their policies to start the same day and avoid driving without car insurance.

→ Learn more about how long it takes to get car insurance

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The best alternatives to one-day car insurance

Some drivers may not have to purchase extra coverage if they already have a regular car insurance policy. This is the case for many people looking for one-day insurance for a rental car or temporary policies for a young driver.

In other cases, it could be a good idea for drivers looking for one-day car insurance to purchase a separate form of protection. Drivers who don't use their cars often may benefit from pausing their policies, signing up for pay-per-mile car insurance, or getting specialty car insurance.

1. Rental car insurance

Drivers who are searching for one-day insurance for a rental car have a couple of options for coverage. It's likely that rental vehicles are already covered by the driver's existing car insurance policy. Usually a driver's existing coverage — including their policy's liability, comprehensive, and collision portions — extends to rental vehicles.

If a policy doesn't cover rental vehicles, there's a good chance that the driver's credit card provides some temporary coverage. Many credit card companies offer a limited amount of insurance coverage on the rental car. After a covered accident or if the car is stolen, the credit card company may reimburse the cardholder 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

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

  • Mastercard

  • Capital One Visa Platinum card

In cases where neither an existing policy nor a credit card offers coverage, drivers can buy rental car insurance for as little as one day. This type of coverage is sold directly by the rental car agency — though it's often expensive. Some companies that specialize in covering rental cars provide short-term car insurance with lower rates and extra protection.

→ Learn more about car insurance for rental cars 

2. Temporary coverage for young drivers

Young drivers with a learner's permit who are operating a car for short periods don't need one-day insurance. A driver with a learner's permit is typically already covered by the vehicle's existing auto insurance policy. Once a teen is licensed, they should be added to an existing policy if the young person lives at home.

→ Learn more about car insurance with a learner’s permit 

3. Pay-per-mile car insurance

Drivers who don't use their cars often should consider a pay-per-mile plan instead of searching for one-day car insurance. Companies that offer per-mile insurance charge drivers a flat rate, plus an amount determined by the number of miles traveled.

While pay-per-mile plans last longer than one day, these plans are a good alternative for some drivers looking for cheap auto coverage, as their cost depends on how frequently a driver uses their car. However, per-mile car insurance isn't available in every state.

→ Learn more about pay-as-you-go insurance

Insurance for classic or collector cars

Classic car owners who may only take their vehicles out once per year still need insurance. Instead of one-day car insurance, the best option is purchasing a special insurance policy for classic cars.

These policies are cheaper than the typical cost of auto insurance, as they tend to have maximum mileage limits and requirements that the insured vehicle cannot be the policyholder's main form of transportation. However, classic car insurance still provides year-round protection just like a regular policy, even when the car isn't being used.

→ Learn more about speciality car insurance

Frequently Asked Questions

Do car dealerships offer temporary car insurance?

If you buy a car at a dealership, you will have to provide proof of insurance before being allowed to drive off the lot. While dealerships may have partnerships with local insurance offices, to get your best rate and coverage it's a good idea to shop beforehand and compare quotes from more than one provider.

Can you get car insurance the same day as an accident?

Drivers can add coverage to their existing policies whenever they want. However, you can only add insurance to cover future accidents. While you can buy more insurance the day you experience a crash, you can't buy coverage for an accident that already happened.

Can you get seasonal car insurance?

While car insurance companies do allow drivers to buy coverage for six months, it's a bad idea to allow a car you own to go uninsured after that period. Because of having a gap in coverage, you will likely see higher rates in the future when you try to renew. It's a better option to reduce your coverage. You could lower your coverage limits, or ask your provider about a comprehensive-only policy for a car that's not being driven.