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Everything you need to know about one-day car insurance

14 January 2022

s a motorist, you’re probably most familiar with taking out car insurance that lasts for a whole year. But what if you only need to be behind the wheel for short periods of time during any 12-month period?

That’s where one-day car insurance comes in. Here’s how it works.

Do I need car insurance?

If you’re behind the wheel of a car, you need car insurance. It’s illegal to drive without it even if, say, you’re only looking to use a vehicle for just one day.

If you are only interested in driving a car temporarily, the first thing to do is establish whether you’re insured already. If you are a ‘named driver’ on the policy of the car you are planning to drive, then you’ve already got third party cover.

What is one-day car insurance?

Especially if you live in a big city like London, you may not necessarily own a car even if you have a driving licence.

But what if you’re looking to borrow a friend’s car to make a one-off trip? Or, you’re moving home and you’ve been offered use of a van so you can transport your belongings to a new address?

Instead of taking out full-blown car insurance that lasts an entire year - or asking a friend or family member to tweak an existing policy - it’s possible instead to take out cover that lasts much shorter periods than the usual 12-month duration.

This is known as one-day car insurance and is also referred to as ‘temporary’, or ‘short-term’ car cover.

One big advantage with taking out temporary cover is that you can tailor it to the amount of time you know you’re going to be driving. Aviva for example, offers cover from between one hour up to 30 days.

Where do I buy one-day cover?

You can go direct to insurers, but another option is to head online and use a comparison site to check an array of one-day policies side-by-side.

You’ll be presented with a wide selection of quotes, assuming that you’ve been driving for a few years and have a full UK driving licence. To work out the premium you’ll be asked to pay, insurers will factor in a variety of details including your:

  • Age
  • Address
  • Occupation
  • Driving licence details

Insurers will also need to know the make and model of the car you’re intending to drive, as well as when you want the cover to start.

Note that some providers won’t cover drivers under the age of 25 for this type of short-term cover. Policies may also stipulate an upper age limit on drivers of 75.

You can start the clock ticking on your policy from the moment you set up the policy. Alternatively, set the start date for a later time depending on when you need the cover.

As well as taking out cover for just a 24-hour period, it’s also possible to buy policies that stretch to a few days, a few weeks or several months.

To keep down the cost of the premium you’ll be asked to pay, one option is to choose to pay a higher voluntary excess. In the event that you make a claim, the excess is the amount that you are liable to pay before the insurer picks up the remainder.

What’s covered?

Drivers who take out a one-day insurance policy usually receive fully comprehensive cover as standard. Third party cover (the legal minimum for UK drivers) as well as third party, fire and theft insurance are also provided by some insurers on a short-term basis.

It’s also possible to pay for add-ons to your core policy, such as breakdown cover. If you’re planning on driving to Europe for a day trip, you can add on cover for driving on the mainland continent as well.

Remember that the more extras you add on, the greater your premiums will become.

Is one-day cover available for all cars?

Generally speaking, yes, providing the car in question has a valid MOT and no more than eight seats. Insurers may decline to cover expensive vehicles, however. Cars worth more than £50,000, for example.

If you need cover for a very expensive car, your only option may be to find a specialist insurer in this sphere.