When would I need temporary car insurance?
Any time that you want to drive a vehicle other than one for which you already have full insurance, or any time that you wish to lend a vehicle that you own to someone else, for a fairly short period.
Typical users are people going on holiday in a borrowed vehicle, those using a larger vehicle to move or collect furniture or other personal goods, and traders who wish to buy and collect a vehicle.
If you are thinking of buying a car privately a test drive would be highly advisable and since the penalties for driving whilst uninsured are pretty awful to contemplate a temporary insurance arrangement would be essential.
Doesn't my own insurance cover me for any vehicle?
Many annual comprehensive policies cover the policyholders for driving any vehicle not belonging to them or hired to them under a hire purchase agreement but this is usually limited to third party cover only; a temporary insurance policy could provide fully comprehensive cover so if you damaged a borrowed vehicle or it was stolen whilst under your control it could be covered.
What sort of cover is available?
Those companies that arrange temporary car insurance usually offer both third-party and comprehensive cover.
Can I drive the vehicle in Europe?
Some companies will cover you for Europe but only for third-party cover only, which is the minimum legal requirement; others may offer it as an optional extra. Always check the small print of every policy.
I have a foreign driving licence, is this acceptable?
Most companies require a UK licence but you can often use a full UK, EU, Australian or New Zealand Licence for a car, light van up to 3.5 tonnes GVW or motorbike (subject to Terms and Conditions).
How long does it take to arrange?
You can usually arrange cover within minutes. Most companies will allow you to order and pay for a policy online and then download the necessary documentation, so that you are covered and able to drive legally straightaway.
How long can I get cover for?
You can get a single day's cover, or for up to 28 days. There is nothing to stop you from applying for another policy when that 28 days is up, but as far as I know that is the maximum period that any of the insurers that we have looked at will provide cover for on a temporary basis.
Would I get any no claims discount?
No, the time that you were on cover would not contribute towards any no claims bonus either on most short term policies.
If I had an accident would I lose my existing no claims bonus on my annual policy?
So far, all the insurers that offer short-term insurance policies that we have looked looked into say no, your NCB will not be affected in the event of a claim under a short term insurance policy. I am not completely convinced about this because a question that every car insurer asks goes along the lines of "have you been involved in an accident during the last x years" and if you were to answer this untruthfully it could invalidate your insurance. My advice would be to tread carefully; you should always be completely open with every insurer if you wish to avoid possible problems in the future.
I need to tax my car. Can I use a temporary insurance policy for this?
Yes if you go to the right company. Some insurers specifically forbid you to use their policy in this way. Others may say that it is quite acceptable for you to do so, subject to the policy being accepted by the DVLA or local post office. Strictly speaking, in order to get tax on a vehicle you have to produce either a valid insurance certificate or cover note that confirms that you are insured to drive that vehicle on the day that the tax disc comes into force. This is supposed to be an original document, and a photocopy or fax is not acceptable. No one in authority seems to have considered the question of whether or not downloaded documents are originals or copies! The upshot is; it is up to the discretion of the person behind the counter. Some post offices will accept a short-term certificate, some will not. However you can usually ask for an original, properly hologrammed policy document to be posted to you for a small extra charge.
If I cancel a short-term policy part way through the cover period, will I get a refund?
Don't rely on it. Most insurers, if not all, look upon it as a fixed term contract.
Are there any conditions I need to know about?
Most insurers will expect you to be aged over 21 with a reasonable, but not necessarily perfect, driving record. There will usually be an excess to pay in the event of a claim, and fully comprehensive insurance will only cover vehicles up to a certain value, although this would still cover the majority of vehicles on the road. In most cases however you could not insure a new Ferrari for a day, write it off and expect to receive another new one from your insurer!
As ever, an insurance policy is very rarely a simple matter and before buying even temporary insurance you should check carefully just what is is covered and, more importantly, what is not.