Car Insurance for international drivers in U.S: what you need to know

USA (United States)


Car Insurance for international drivers in U.S: what you need to know

When traveling in the United States or planning a permanent move, foreigners must obtain car insurance to drive legally in most states. Find out more about what car insurance in the US for expats and tourists is, how to choose the best expat car insurance company, and what determines the cost of an insurance policy

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Foreign nationals visiting the US for a short-term trip or planning to move to the country for permanent residence must have auto insurance to legally drive in most states. Major insurance companies sell policies to international drivers, but only on the condition that expats meet certain requirements.

What are these requirements and what other features does the car insurance procedure for foreign drivers in the USA have? Let's talk further.

What is US car insurance for expats and tourists?

A foreigner must have an auto insurance policy to be able to drive a car in the US.

International insurance is not a special type of car insurance, it is a car insurance policy for a driver who has an international driving licence.

Depending on the alien's country of origin and state of residence in the US, your national ID may be accepted or you may need to apply for an International Driver's Permit (IDP).

Importantly! The IDP is a supplement to the alien's national rights and allows you to drive in many countries, including the United States of America. You can apply for an IDP at the Department of Vehicles in your country of residence. Both short-term visitors and long-term migrants can travel on the basis of an IDP. Expats who come to the US for permanent residence will eventually have to obtain an American-style driver's license.

Usually an international motorist insurance policy offers cover for 6 or 12 months, but some insurers may offer shorter term policies.

The only state that does not require auto insurance is New Hampshire.

Do tourists need car insurance in the USA?

Foreigners who rent a car in the USA can purchase an appropriate insurance policy from a company that provides rental services. It will be valid for the duration of the lease. This method is the easiest to insure a car for tourists in the USA.

If you arrive in the country in your own car, you need to take out a car insurance policy for foreign drivers.

Auto insurance for foreigners coming to the US for a long-term stay

Foreign nationals who have come to the US for long-term residence can drive with a National International Driver's Permit or IDP. The time frame can vary by state, but generally you can travel with a foreign license for three months and an IDP for a year.

On the basis of the certificate, a foreigner buys an insurance policy for a certain period - a temporary short-term policy if you drive a car with foreign rights or an annual policy if you have an IDP.

Auto insurance in the USA for foreigners who have arrived in the USA for permanent residence

Expats staying in the US for more than 1 year must obtain an American-style driver's license.

Depending on the alien's country of origin, you can go to the DMV and reissue your national ID for a US ID, or you can make an appointment at the DMV, take a test, and get a new ID.

It is best to get your license while your IDP is still valid.

Based on the document, the expat will take out car insurance.

Car insurance in the USA for international students

If you are a student studying in the US with a foreign driver's license, you can purchase an auto insurance policy in any state. Before you get behind the wheel, you must carry at least the minimum car insurance requirements for the state in which you live.

How to choose the best car insurance company for expats in the USA?

Most international insurance companies in the US offer policies to drivers who have recently moved to the US and have a registered vehicle. However, whether you're planning to visit the US or move to the country permanently, there are several factors you'll need to consider when purchasing auto insurance. These tips will help you choose the best insurance company:

- Carefully choose the type of coverage:

  Most states require a driver to have auto insurance, but each state has different minimum requirements. This is usually liability insurance that covers the damages you cause to others in an accident.

An expat can also take out additional policies - roadside assistance, accident insurance, etc. Therefore, before buying a policy, make sure that you have taken into account all the risks.

- Look for insurers that offer discounts

Most insurance companies offer discounts to attract more customers. You can often save by paying the premium in full, combining multiple policies, or taking a safe driving course, insuring more than two cars, or taking out insurance for a vehicle with an anti-theft alarm.

- Read customer reviews

Be sure to read the reviews of current or former customers before taking out a policy. Many insurance companies publish them on their official website. You can also check third-party sites. Doing so will help you learn more about the pros and cons of each insurer you are researching.

- Request personal prices

Usually, most insurers offer personalized quotes for each individual driver. Therefore, we advise you to request quotes from several different insurance companies to research which one can provide you with the lowest rate. Also, be sure to check the cost of insurance when renewing your policy to always have up-to-date offers.

So, before buying insurance, it's a good idea to compare offers from several different insurers to find the best insurance company for your needs. The advantage will be the possibility to issue a policy while staying outside the country. In addition, most insurers offer different insurance coverages, good discounts and affordable rates.

Foreigners who do not speak English well can look for insurance companies that offer customer service in other languages.

What does the cost of a car insurance policy in the USA depend on?

The cost of car insurance for international drivers depends on many factors: state of residence, age, gender, type of vehicle, coverage limits. Some insurance companies may charge expat drivers higher rates until the foreigner has driving experience and credit history in the United States of America.

Therefore, car insurance for foreign drivers in the USA is an important document for traveling legally and safely on American roads.

Daria Rogova, Head of Insurance at Visit World

To move, travel or work safely in a new country, you will need health insurance. You can apply for an extended policy on our website here.

Products from Visit World for a comfortable trip:

Checklist for obtaining a visa and necessary documents in the United States;

Legal advice on business issues in the United States;

Travel insurance for foreigners in the United States;

Medical insurance around the world.

More articles on the topic: 

What are the employment opportunities in the USA for foreigners?

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