When Do I Need Temporary Car Insurance

Published: September 18, 2015

Updated: May 15, 2018



Temporary car insurance is exactly what you think it is; a short term coverage alternative that gives drives a policy over a short amount of time. This length of time is generally below six months and can be as low as a few weeks.

Traditional auto insurance policies provide coverage over a 12 month period, or sometimes over six months, but there are some circumstances where a driver or car owner may need a shorter policy. Reasons for temporary insurance are myriad, but two common needs are:

  • Tourists or returning citizens arriving in Canada sometimes prefer to purchase an automobile as it can be more cost effective than using a rental. Visitors staying for several months can seek short term car insurance for the duration of their stay.
  • Situations where car ownership is being transferred and a short term licence plate is being used. Many temporary insurance plans will match the duration of the short term licence plate while the full plate is being registered.

Throughout Canada temporary insurance is widely available, with many of the major insurance companies offering policies. You can check with the Facility Association to check which companies do offer this service.

However, the Province of Ontario acts as a contradiction as you will not find temporary insurance within the province. Ontario has among the most stringent driver and insurance regulations in Canada and there are no companies in the province that provide temporary car insurance coverage.

Some providers do offer six month coverage, but for the most part Ontario sticks to the traditional annually re-purchased 12 month car insurance model. In theory, policy holders in the province could opt for one of these longer term plans and then cancel it before the end of the agreement. In practice though this is not a viable option as cancellation fees would come into effect and other preventions in Ontario would make it pointless.

The provincial laws state that drivers in Ontario need to have a state issued Ontarian driver’s license, hampering any short term visitors to the most populated region in Canada.

The insurance and road laws in the province are geared towards long term coverage; even short term license plates need full term insurance coverage. A short term license plate is a stop gap over a 10-day period while a full license plate is being registered, usually applied for when transferring ownership of a vehicle.

Drivers in other Canadian regions are not held by back by such strict regulations, with temporary car insurance plans generally available.