Why you might need it
Perhaps a relative or friend needs to use your car for a day or two. Or you want to drive a new car home, before shopping around for a full, annual insurance policy. Or you're borrowing a friend's car to move house.
In all of these situations, short-term insurance is exactly what you need. Not only is it likely to be substantially cheaper than adding a new driver to an existing insurance policy, but it also means that if anything happens, the responsibility lies only with the person insured on the short-term policy. This means it doesn't affect the no-claims bonus of the person who usually drives the vehicle.
Because short-term car insurance is basically an off-the-shelf product – not an individually tailored policy – insurers tend to slap heavy restrictions on who can buy it.
Often, this insurance isn't available to drivers under the age of 21, although the AA, for example, will accept drivers who are 18 or over.
You usually need to have had a full licence for a year, and too many penalty points will disqualify you. There's also likely to be an upper limit on the value of the car, typically less than £50,000.
Most importantly, these policies tend to come with a high basic excess, typically £500. However, you can pay to reduce this to around £250.
There are often other exclusions as well, such as damage to tyres or loss of value following a repair.
Like any insurance, read the small print before you buy.
And if you have a policy of your own, you may already have third-party cover to drive other cars. So if comprehensive cover isn't an issue, short-term insurance may not be right for you.
Who provides it and what does it cost?
Many well-known insurance companies, including the AA, RAC and Aviva, provide short-term insurance policies, although they are usually underwritten by other providers.
It can cost as little as £10 a day for a couple of days. The longer you have it, the cheaper it usually is.
Again, shop around for the best price.
Don’t drive beyond your limit
Short-term car insurance is just that and your cover finishes at midnight on the last day of the policy. Drive for just a minute over that limit and the insurance is invalid.
Short-term car insurance may not be for everyone. Sometimes, you might be better off simply adding a driver to an existing policy – if they're likely to drive the car for longer than 28 days, for example. You also can't use short-term policies consecutively.
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