One-day Car Insurance Coverage: What To Know 

Getting one-day car insurance is a cost-effective way to protect your vehicle for a few days. You won't be committing to any long-term commitments, and you won't have to fill out any complicated forms. Unfortunately, one-day car insurance isn't so easy to find, especially for drivers in the United States. In such cases, temporary car insurance is an appropriate alternative for short-term vehicle coverage.

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Tonya Sisler has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of South Carolina in Journalism and has worked for 15+ years in management. She has also completed a proofreading certification and is currently a professional writer.

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Brad Larson has been in the insurance industry for more than a dozen years. He started out as a claims adjuster for a national carrier. He has since switched to the agency side of the business. Brad is licensed in all P&C lines.

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Reviewed by Brad Larsen
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Brad Larsen

UPDATED: Apr 20, 2022

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Things to Know

  • A one-day car insurance policy offers simple and straightforward coverage for just 24 hours
  • While one-day insurance policies may be hard to find, temporary or short-term car insurance policies are a great alternative
  • If renting a car, consider purchasing a collision damage waiver which protects you from being liable for damage or theft to the car during your rental period

The average car insurance policy lasts about six months to a year. However, there are times when you may only need short-term coverage for your vehicle. A practical and affordable way to do this is by purchasing a one-day car insurance policy.

In this guide, we’ll break down some of the most common questions about one-day car insurance policies, what they have to offer and what you should know before you buy.

What is a one-day car insurance policy?

A one-day car insurance policy offers simple and straightforward coverage for just 24 hours. In other words, it allows you to drive your car for a short period of time without having to take out an annual or semi-annual insurance policy.

One-day car insurance can cover many issues that may arise during its brief term, including accident damages, repairs, fire and theft damage, and liability against damage or injury to others or their property. You get all the benefits you’d get with longer-term insurance but are able to do so faster, easier, and at a much lower cost.

You won’t be entering into any long-term commitments, and you won’t have to fill out any complicated forms. And, of course, there’s no annual contract. So when the policy expires, that’s it.

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Who needs one-day car insurance? 

Many common instances might call for purchasing car insurance for a day or any short period of time. The following are some reasons you might want one-day car insurance:

  • When changing insurance companies after dropping your previous policy
  • When you lend your car to a friend or relative who isn’t covered under your main policy
  • When you are selling your vehicle and want to ensure it is covered while being driven by a potential buyer
  • When driving a rental car
  • When you are learning to drive a car

But remember, before you buy a short-term automobile insurance policy, ask your auto insurance agent if your regular auto policy will cover your situation. The last thing you want to do is purchase a redundant policy.

Coverage Limitations of One-day Car Insurance

As you can imagine, one-day car insurance policies usually come with stricter coverage rules. Among some common limitations are:

  • Drivers may receive limited coverage
  • Drivers may not be able to extend the policy
  • More stringent eligibility requirements, such as stricter age limitations
  • Driver-specific coverage amounts

Generally, you may have an issue obtaining a short-term or one-day policy if you are under 21 years old (some states place the minimum age at 25) or an older adult over 75 years old. Many car insurance companies check points, so a driver with a poor record may also have difficulties getting such a policy.

Many companies that offer one-day or temporary auto insurance do not cover older vehicles. In such cases, it’s simply not worth it to repair an older car, as you will likely end up spending more on repairs than the vehicle itself is worth.

It is important to remember that these coverage rules differ for each specific insurance company. Whenever you are unsure of something, ask your insurance agent for clarification.

Finding One-day Car Insurance

U.S. auto insurance policies are usually sold for a term of six months to a year, which, unfortunately, makes it a bit more challenging to get your vehicle insured for 24 hours.

In reality, you are unlikely to find companies that offer one-day auto insurance policies. Even temporary car insurance policies usually require a one-month commitment.

However, you shouldn’t give up just yet. First, check with your current insurance company. Tell them about your situation and ask them what they can do for you. Always ask for a quote. Several details will be required, including the make, model, year, and purpose of the vehicle.

You also have the option of getting quotes from other companies that specialize in short-term insurance. Most companies allow you to do this over the phone or through their website. In the same way that you do with any new insurance, you need to be sure that the company you’re considering is legitimate. You need to read the fine print to know what you’re signing up for.

A third option is to obtain multiple quotes at once through an insurance comparison website. Some websites straight-up offer short-term car insurance comparisons or have a short-term filter when browsing. Upon filling out the required information, multiple insurance companies will reply with quotes to fulfill your one-day, one-week, or one-month insurance needs. The Internet has become a valuable resource for consumer research. Use it wisely to compare prices and look at user reviews.

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What’s a good alternative to one-day car insurance?

So how can you make sure that you are covered if you drive a friend’s car for a day or two? Or if you need to rent a car for a business trip or vacation? In this instance, you still need vehicle insurance coverage to ensure you aren’t responsible for any damages.

While one-day insurance policies may be hard to find, temporary or short-term car insurance policies can help keep you covered — even if you’re only driving for a few hours.

These are more common than one-day car insurance policies. You can easily find reputable insurance companies offering these plans, which can last anywhere from one to six months.

To learn more, read our complete temporary car insurance guide.

One-day Car Insurance: Frequently Asked Questions

Even after reading through our article, you may still have some questions. Here, we’ve gathered some of the most frequently asked questions about one-day auto insurance coverage.

#1 — Can I insure my car for one day?

The short answer: not really. Even though one-day insurance does exist, it is tough to find in the United States. Despite this, there are short-term insurance options that can keep you covered even if you only drive for a short time. These policies can last anywhere from 30 days to six months.

In the eyes of a car insurance company, someone who only drives occasionally is seen as a higher risk, which translates into higher rates. In addition, the term of your policy is most likely longer than one-day (expect a minimum of one month). Cancellations after two or three days could result in cancellation fees.

#2 — Which companies offer the best one-day car insurance policies?

Not many companies offer short-term car insurance policies of just one day. There are, however, many companies that specialize in car insurance for a month or longer. State Farm, GEICO, USAA, Allstate, and Liberty Mutual are all reputable companies that offer temporary car insurance policies.

Alternatively, some insurance companies offer a pay-per-mile policy. It’s a simple concept: you pay a low monthly rate plus a few cents for every mile you drive. With pay-per-mile insurance, your rate is set based on your driving habits. If you drive fewer miles, you pay less in premiums.

#3 — Can I insure my rental car with one-day car insurance?

We recommend protecting your rental car directly with the rental company through a collision damage waiver. This waiver protects you from being liable for damage or theft to the car during your rental period.

Technically speaking, this isn’t insurance – it’s a waiver, which means that the company waives the right to charge you for any damage costs. However, it is your best option aside from one-day car insurance (which is, as we mentioned, hard to find).

Collision waiver costs can vary depending on the rental car company and the type of car you rent but expect to pay around $20 — 40 a day.

Many credit card companies also offer collision damage waiver coverage. It’s worth checking beforehand. Visa, for example, offers full reimbursement (subject to the terms and conditions) on rental vehicle damage due to collision or theft up to the amount of the vehicle’s actual cash value.

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