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If you want to drive, you need the right car insurance in place. The whole thing is usually fairly straightforward – you buy a car, you get an annual car insurance policy, and you drive off into the sunset. Done.

But, life isn’t always that simple.

Sometimes you don’t have your own car but your parents are nice enough to let you borrow theirs for a quick trip to Ikea. Sometimes you’re on a road trip with a friend and you’d like to share the driving. Sometimes you want to buy a car but you need car insurance to test drive it.

These types of scenarios don’t really call for an annual car insurance policy. But, you still need to be insured. And that’s where temporary car insurance comes in.

Person in orange with blue car and trees and sun in the background.

What exactly is temporary car insurance?

Temporary car insurance is basically short-term car insurance that provides the cover you need in minutes. Whether you need a policy for an hour, a few days, or a few weeks, temporary car insurance could be right for you.

Also, it can be arranged in minutes which is super handy if you’re in a pinch and need a policy stat. And, with app-based car insurance like Zixty, you could do it all through your phone while you’re on the go. Easy.

But just because it’s super convenient and flexible doesn’t mean it won’t offer the cover you need. That’s right. This is a have your cake and eat it situation.

Temporary car insurance is designed to be a fully featured car insurance policy offering comprehensive cover. Still, there are some important differences between comprehensive cover offered by short-term insurance and fully comprehensive insurance cover offered by annual policies.

As is always the case, you should do your research and make sure the policy works for you before buying.

But, there are many instances where this type of cover could provide exactly what you need to get you on the road quickly.

What can I use temporary car insurance for?

Temporary car insurance policies are super versatile and flexible. So many of life’s situations mean you’ll need to drive someone else’s car. But you shouldn’t do it without the right insurance in place.

Here at Zixty, we ran a survey to find out what people typically use temporary car insurance for. The results were pretty interesting, so take a look if you’re a numbers guy or gal.

But, basically, people use temporary car insurance for all sorts of reasons. Some of the top reasons include:

  • Borrowing a car for a special occasion; like your dad’s convertible for your best mate’s wedding, for instance.
  • Buying a car; temporary car insurance means you can test-drive it and take your time choosing an annual policy too.
  • Driving in an emergency, like if your friend’s fallen ill and you need to take over behind the wheel.
  • Insuring a vehicle that is on a personal lease (see our dedicated “Guide to insuring a leased vehicle“)

Sharing the driving, borrowing a car to run errands, and selling a car were also some of the reasons why people chose to buy a temporary car insurance policy.

Man with blue hatchback car with trees and the sun in the background

What are some situations where temporary car insurance won’t work for me?

While there are lots of great uses for a temporary car insurance policy, there are simply some situations where it might not work for you.

For instance, some temporary car insurance providers won’t be able to offer you a policy if:

  • You’re learning to drive; you’ll often need a full driving licence.
  • Your MOT has expired and you need to take your car to its appointment.
  • Your car has been impounded; you’ll probably need specialist car insurance.
  • You want to insure a SORN car.

These are just some circumstances where you might struggle to get temporary car insurance policies. Of course, there may be exceptions to these rules. Equally, certain providers may have further restrictions too.

What we’re trying to say is this is a non-exhaustive list. So, as always, do your own research.

Why use temporary car insurance when I can just get annual car insurance?

Temporary car insurance and annual car insurance aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. They exist to complement each other and aren’t really in competition per se.

There are simply some circumstances where you need a more temporary solution regardless of your car ownership status.

Temporary car insurance if you don’t own a car

If you don’t own a car but are in the fortunate position to be able to borrow your parents’ car, you might just ask them to add you to their policy. No hassle, no admin to deal with, and you’re fully insured too.

And many times that makes sense. But not always.

If you drive your parents’ car a few times a week, every week, then being added to their policy might make financial sense. But, if you only drive the car occasionally, then it might make more sense financially to take out temporary car insurance only when you need it.

You can get a temporary car insurance quote here if you’re interested in working out whether a temporary car insurance policy might make more sense for you than an annual car insurance policy.

Temporary car insurance if you own a car

If you have a car, you’ll most likely need annual car insurance. But, there are still some circumstances where you might need a temporary car insurance policy. Here are a few:

  • You just bought a new car but you haven’t had time to find the right annual insurance policy yet; temporary car insurance can get you insured while you keep looking.
  • You need to borrow your dad’s SUV to pick up a sofa you bought on Preloved; temporary car insurance can get you the cover you need.
  • You’re taking a road trip around the UK in your friend’s convertible; temporary car insurance means you can share the driving and only take one car.

But wait… 

Blue hatchback car with trees and the sun in the background

Doesn’t my annual car insurance already cover me if I want to drive someone else’s car?

If you have an annual car insurance policy, you should be able to drive other cars too, right? Well, actually, it’s not that simple.

Many people think that if they have an existing car insurance policy, they can automatically benefit from the Driving Other Cars (DOC) feature. Where it exists on a policy, DOC allows you to drive other people’s cars on a third-party basis. If they’ve given you permission, that is.

But, what people fail to realise is that the DOC extension a) doesn’t actually come as standard with most annual car insurance policies anymore and b) can really only be used in very specific circumstances anyway – generally emergencies.

Yup, check your policy wording if you were going to rely on the good ol’ DOC. You might find it’s non-existent.

But, if it is within your policy, you’ll probably find that you’re limited to driving other people’s cars in emergency situations. And no, pizza cravings don’t count as an emergency.  That means somebody better be dying and you’re literally the only person who can drive them to the hospital. That type of emergency.

So to sum up, you can’t really drive someone else’s car just because you have an annual car insurance policy. Not for any fun reasons anyway.

What if I get in an accident while driving my friend’s car? How will they be impacted?

We know what you’re thinking; let’s say your friend has generously offered to let you borrow their car. You take out a temporary car insurance policy. You hit the road. All is fine and dandy.

Then, you rear-end someone. Everybody’s fine, but the cars are a wreck. How will that impact your friend?

Well, the simple answer is that, from a car insurance perspective at least, it won’t. Your temporary car insurance policy supersedes your friend’s policy. That means that any claims will be handled through your short-term insurance provider.

The good news? Your friend’s No Claims Discount shouldn’t be affected either. So try not to feel too bad about it; accidents happen.

Of course, from a more practical perspective, their car might be out of action while it is getting repaired. That bit sucks. Maybe get them some pizza to say you’re sorry? Unless they’re lactose intolerant. In which case obviously don’t, because that would be just cruel.

Does temporary car insurance come with breakdown cover?

Many temporary car insurance policies come with optional breakdown cover add-ons that you can purchase if you don’t have another breakdown policy in place.

Here at Zixty, for instance, we offer a breakdown cover that provides all kinds of nifty features. For instance, you could send us your exact location via the app. No need to worry about working out exactly where on the M62 you are.

Plus, it comes with all the usual breakdown cover stuff, like roadside assistance, nationwide recovery, and even home start. Yup, someone comes to your house if you can’t get the car going.

In short, yes. Temporary car insurance policies also offer additional services like breakdown cover. So you don’t have to worry about breaking down in the middle of nowhere.

Blue car with trees and the sun in the background

Temporary car insurance: The Zixty difference

There are lots of different temporary car insurance providers out there. But at Zixty, we pride ourselves on doing things a little differently.

We have this brilliant, completely free, optional add-on called Zixty Miles. It’s totally optional, because we’re all about giving you choices over your experience.

But if you click that green button in the app and enable Zixty Miles, awesome things start happening. Awesome things like:

  • Carbon offsetting all your journeys up to 100 miles a day while you have a policy
  • Planting a tree every time you take out a policy
  • Offering you eco-driving tips to help you save fuel and do your bit for the planet

And more!

Basically, if you’re concerned about climate change, it’s a great way to do your bit for the planet while you’re behind the wheel. We all need to drive sometimes, but how many of us get to plant trees on the go?

How do I get started with temporary car insurance?

Getting started with temporary car insurance is as easy as 1,2,3. Here at Zixty, we have a brilliant app (if we do say so ourselves) that’s available both on Apple and Android devices.

To get started, all you need to do is download the app, fill in a few details about yourself, and get a quote. Then, if you’re happy with all that, you can buy a policy that lasts as little as an hour or as long as a few weeks and you can be on the road in minutes.

Those are the basics.

You can also enable Zixty Miles through the app so we can carbon offset your journeys. And, if you ever need to show evidence of your policy, you can access all your docs in the app.

Basically, everything’s in one place and super easy to navigate.

Temporary car insurance: Is it right for me?

So there you have it! An overview of exactly how temporary car insurance works. But is it right for you, specifically? Well, that depends.

Do you need a policy that is flexible, can last anywhere between a few hours and a few weeks and can get you on the road in minutes? Yes?

Well, if you and the car you intend to drive meet all your insurer’s requirements, then it might just be a match made in heaven. So why not swipe right on Zixty’s temporary car insurance and try it out for a day? No strings attached.