Temporary Car Insurance Canada

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What is temporary car insurance?

As the name suggests, temporary car insurance allows drivers to be covered by an insurance policy for a short period of time, anywhere from one day to a couple of months (capped at six months). Generally, drivers will purchase coverage spanning a 12-month period, however there are unique circumstances that may require a driver to need a shorter policy.

It’s mandatory for all drivers in Canada to have car insurance. Not only will your car insurance policy give you peace of mind, it also can save you from a major financial burden should you be involved in an accident, have your car stolen, or otherwise. When choosing a policy, most car insurance companies will lock you in for a long term commitment, making it difficult for drivers to find coverage for a short term basis. Drivers can solve this problem by opting for a short term car insurance policy.

Do you need to buy temporary insurance if your renting a car?

If you’re already a car owner with an existing car insurance policy, you probably don’t need to purchase additional temporary insurance for your rental. It is likely that you will already be covered. If not, you might be covered by your credit card company, as it is common for them to offer rental car insurance to their customers. It is recommended to look into this before purchasing temporary insurance from the rental company.

If you don’t have an existing policy or your credit card company doesn’t provide rental insurance, this is when you would need to purchase a temporary policy. The reason this is necessary is that like a personal vehicle, your rental will need protection from damage, theft, liability and any other potential financial risk. Paying for a short term insurance policy will save you from a potential major financial burden should anything happen.

Purchasing temporary insurance from a car rental company is different from purchasing a personal temporary policy. Rather than buying your own policy, you will be covered through the rental’s group insurance company. This is the same concept as when you are test-driving a new car or renting a moving truck. 

Temporary Coverage in Western Canada

The process of acquiring temporary car insurance is different in every province. Here is a quick primer on how to find short-term insurance in some of Canada’s western provinces. If you have any further questions then please contact your local insurance agent or visit the links below. You can also read through our insurance articles, FAQs, and guides to learn more about driving in Canada.

British Columbia

If you are looking for insurance for a period of 1 to 15 days then you will need a Temporary Operation Permit (TOP) if you live in British Columbia. You can use your TOP to transport a vehicle to an auto mechanic shop for repairs, to get an AirCare test, or to transport your vehicle from one location to another. To learn more about Temporary Operation Permits visit the ICBC website.


You will have to contact your insurance provider to purchase temporary insurance if you live in Alberta. Some of these Albertan companies include the Alberta Motor Association, GP Car and Home, Aviva Auto Insurance, and Economical.


In Saskatchewan you need to purchase a Temporary Insurance Card (TIC) if you want to bring a vehicle into the province. The TIC must be purchased before you live Saskatchewan and you must also have a valid permit from an insurance provider in the jurisdiction where the vehicle is currently located. To learn more about in-transit permits in Saskatchewan please click here to visit the SGI website.


Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) has something called the Temporary Registration Permit. It allows you to purchase coverage for a short time if you have a specific need for insurance. This insurance is available for a period of up to 30 days and is valid in all of Canada as well as the continental USA. You can purchase these policies from MPI Customer Service Centres, MPI rural offices, and Autopac agents throughout Manitoba.


If you need a short-term insurance policy in Ontario then you will need to purchase a Temporary Vehicle Registration or a Special Permit. A Temporary Vehicle Registration gives you insurance for a period of up to ten days. Before you purchase the Temporary Vehicle Registration, the vehicle that has been sold must be registered in the new owner’s name.

Why would you purchase a temporary insurance policy?

There are certain circumstances in which it makes more sense for a driver to have short term car insurance rather than them committing to a long term policy. Some examples of these circumstances include:

  • Tourists or citizens returning to Canada may prefer to buy a car rather than rent one as in some cases this can be more cost effective. 
  • Those who are visiting and only staying in the country for a few weeks or months.
  • If you’re transferring car ownership and the current license plate being used is short term. Many temporary insurance plans will match the duration of the short-term licence plate while the full plate is being registered.
  • If you own a car but only drive it certain parts of the year. Whether it’s a car that’s only used for road trips, to move your child to and from university, to haul a trailer, or a vintage car that sits in the garage for 85% of the year, for these vehicles, it doesn’t make financial sense to be paying full insurance. This way you can save money and only pay for insurance when you really need it.
  • Similarly, if you rarely drive a car, you shouldn’t have to pay for an annual premium. For example, maybe you’re a student who is only home for the summer. In this case, you would want to purchase temporary car insurance for a four month period rather than make a long term commitment. .

Where can you buy temporary car insurance?

Temporary car insurance is offered in most Canadian provinces, with the exception of Ontario. This type of car insurance is available through a majority of insurance companies, which is why like a standard insurance policy, it is recommended to shop around and compare rates. 

The reason that short term insurance isn’t provided in Ontario is that they have one of the most strict insurance regulations in the country and as a result, Ontario insurance companies are not allowed to offer temporary car insurance coverage. While you will be unable to find temporary car insurance in Ontario, certain insurance companies will offer six-month policies, however this is rare. Some drivers will try to get around this by purchasing a 12-month policy and cancelling ahead of time, although this usually comes with high cancellation fees.

How do you get temporary car insurance?

Like standard car insurance, you should always get several quotes from different companies and compare them before making a decision. As the insurance market is both extremely complex and competitive, you are likely to find a wide range in rates and can choose the one that is best suited for your needs. 

Before making your decision, you should make a list of the companies that offer temporary insurance to their customers. Once this is done, determine how long you will require coverage for, how much liability coverage you need, and if you want any additional coverage such as collision or comprehensive insurance. Many drivers prefer to pay a little extra upfront in order to save them from the possibility of having to pay for any damages or injury out of pocket.

When purchasing a short term insurance policy, you may be offered a few different options, such as a slightly longer policy for a lower rate, or a shorter policy that might not cover the duration of time that you need insurance for. As always, you should compare the rates between policies with different lengths of coverage.

Once you have decided on the policy that suits your needs best, you are ready for the final step. Insurance companies make this process very simple and give you the option of securing your policy either over the phone or over the internet, whichever you prefer. 

With temporary insurance policies, never forget to review your policy and be aware of factors such as cancellation or renewal fees. The last thing you want at the maturity of your policy is unexpected expenses.

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