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The weekend is coming up, and you need car insurance pretty quickly; is this a problem? No, if you do it online you will be able to get a policy within a few minutes, provided that you drive an average car, are aged between 20 and 75 with a full driving licence and have a fairly clean licence. Unlike your local insurance agency or insurance company the Internet is open seven days a week and 24-hour today, and you can get a quote, buy a policy and print out your own cover note for anything between one single day and four weeks, within a matter of minutes.

What can I insure?

The car can belong to you, or you could have borrowed it. Comprehensive UK cover is available as well as cover for driving within the countries of the EEC; do bear in mind that standard EEC cover is third-party only, but you will have an option of upgrading to fully comprehensive if you wish, and can even have UK or European roadside assistance as an optional extra.

Is buying online the easiest option?

If you have ever tried to contact an insurance company by telephone you will realise that you need to allow a huge amount of time whilst you listen to a scratchy recording of something by Vivaldi whilst a disembodied voice tries to convince you how important your call is, and begs you to continue holding indefinitely. If you do manage to get through to a real human being you will almost certainly find that (a) they don't do short term car insurance, (b) they do but it will cost you a fortune or (c) they suggest that you buy online. You could of course contact your friendly neighbourhood insurance broker who sold you your annual car insurance policy, but to be brutally frank it simply isn't worth their while setting up a short term policy for you because they would earn so little from selling such a small premium, and expend the sort of time that they would use arranging a full 12 month policy which would earn them a decent commission. So, no warm welcome there either!

Is it cheaper to buy online?

Most definitely. Before the Internet came along short term car insurance was an extreme rarity because of the additional costs involved for both brokers and underwriters; each case had to be handled individually by a real live person who, naturally enough, needed to be paid for the work involved. Now that the Internet, along with cheap but powerful computing, has come along it has been possible to automate this process which means that much more economical premiums can be offered. Most of the insurers offering short term car insurance will now only do so online; the few who will offer a telephone service will have to pay staff to attend to this and so premiums are likely to be very considerably higher than the online ones.

When should I buy it?

You can buy a short term motor insurance at the very last moment for your end of week trip, but it is not absolutely essential to get up at the crack of dawn when you are arranging your policy online. Whilst you can buy one which begins to cover you immediately, you can also buy one a full 30 days in advance, specifying the date and time when you want cover to commence. This means that you can get up in the morning of your trip, secure in the knowledge that your car is properly covered.

Should I bother to print my documents?

When you buy your temporary policy you will be given the option to download all the documentation, and print it out on your home printer. You would be well advised to do this, since the police are, quite rightly, extremely vigilant about uninsured drivers these days and, particularly if you buy a policy on the morning that you are setting off on your weekend away, The Motor Insurance Database (which the police check to find out whether vehicles are insured are not) is likely to have no record yet of your policy, so it is best to carry a printout of your cover note, to prove you have your short term car insurance cover, just in case the police stop you for any reason.

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