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I don't know much about insuring a car short-term but I am brilliant at shaggy dog stories. No matter how long or convoluted, I'm there with the punchline when it matters. Any of my friends will tell you. What I'm not so good at is being organised. I have so many examples, but this one probably works best - are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.

I love booking holidays at the last minute. I don't have a lot of money to spare, and I'll tend to leave things until there's a long spell of good weather forecast, throw the camping gear in the car, and drive to a campsite near the coast. I must have had a bump on the head on this particular occasion, as I decided there was nothing else for it - go by road.

Two weeks, several stops, lots of gruelling driving. The roadtrip was looking a lot less like fun and a lot more like torture - holiday, or last-ditch attempt to hold on to a youth that wasn't all that mis-spent in the first place? I drowned my sorrows in a glass of wine at the local, and may have whined (sorry!) a bit.

Well, whined a lot, actually. Although it did get Dave to offer to come with me, take on half the driving, and fill my head with visions of the open road, the great outdoors, and sampling lots of local ales when we'd stopped driving for the day.

Brilliant. However, the day before we were due to leave, I realised one crucial and potentially disastrous spanner in the works - the road trip was about to turn into road-kill. Dave wasn't insured to drive my car.

I phoned him, and in his typically laid-back way, he told me not to panic. He'd been researching motoring insurance, and had found out that short-term cover could be arranged in as much time as it took to fill in a form online and pay for it. If we decided to hop on a ferry and spend a few days on the continent, it would even cover any country within the European Union.

Within the hour, Dave was insured to drive my car for the next two weeks, and we were all set. Somehow, we managed to shoehorn all the camping gear we'd need into my car - and they say women can't travel light - got the SatNav to work, and we were good to go.

Except my car wouldn't start.

However, all was not lost - after a quick bus ride home, Dave was back half an hour later. Another quick bit of form filling, and I was insured to drive his beloved motor.

We had a great time. All thanks to a savvy bit of preparation - and temporary insurance.

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