What Is Car Insurance for Foreigners in USA?

Car and Driver, Hearst Autos Research
·5 min read
Photo credit: David McNew - Getty Images
Photo credit: David McNew - Getty Images

What Is Car Insurance for Foreigners in USA?

Car insurance for foreigners in the USA is a must if you plan on driving while here. How long you plan to visit will determine what you need to do to drive a car legally. To drive in the USA legally, you need a valid driver's license and insurance coverage.

If you plan to visit for a short period, such as for a vacation, then you might get insurance from the car rental company. They will provide you with the level of coverage you need. Rental coverage is usually not included in the rental price, so budget for this when renting the vehicle. Ask the car rental company ahead of time how much you can expect to pay for insurance.

If you plan to visit the USA for a longer period, you might need an International Driving Permit (IDP). This permit translates your driver's license from your home country. You will need to carry both when driving in the USA. You will also want to buy your own insurance policy if you will be in the country for more than six months.

Not all insurance companies offer insurance to foreign drivers. Some insurance providers might require you to get a U.S. driver's license to qualify for insurance. It is also important to check the individual state requirements where you live, as they might require you to get a U.S. driver's license.

How To Get an International Driver's Permit

You might be eligible for an IDP if you have a valid driver's license from your home country. You will need to apply for an IDP before coming to the USA. You cannot get one once you are already here. According to 4autoinsurancequote.com, if you're from Canada or Mexico, you might not be required to get an IDP or a U.S. driver's license to drive here.

However, it is always a good idea to check with your state of residence to ensure you are following their requirements based on the length of time you plan to stay.

How To Get a U.S. Driver's License

If you plan to stay in the U.S. for more than six months, you might decide to get a U.S. driver's license to make it easier to find insurance. Getting a driver's license is easy in most states. You can usually buy study materials online or sign up for a class in your community. You can even have the written test printed in your native language. The process of getting your driver's license in the U.S. is also very affordable, especially when compared to other countries.

If you only plan to stay for a few months or you don't plan on driving a vehicle, then you don't need a U.S. driver's license.

Insurance Required for U.S. Drivers

Insurance requirements vary from state to state, but most states have minimum levels of coverage you must carry. You only need to meet the minimums of the state in which you live. You can still travel to other states, regardless of their insurance requirements. If you rent a vehicle while visiting a different state, the rental company will usually sell you the level of insurance you need in that location.

States usually require the following types of insurance:

  • Liability coverage: Liability coverage covers the medical bills and damages of the other driver if you are at fault in an accident.

  • Personal injury protection: Personal injury protection pays for your medical bills, regardless of who is at fault for the accident.

  • Uninsured/underinsured coverage: Uninsured/underinsured coverage pays for your vehicle's damages and medical bills if you are in an accident with an uninsured/underinsured driver.

Some drivers choose to add on other types of coverage, including:

  • Comprehensive: Comprehensive coverage pays for damages to your vehicle that are not related to an accident. This might include weather-related damages or theft.

  • Collision: Collision coverage pays for damages to your vehicle if you're in an accident and at fault. Otherwise, the at-fault driver's insurance will cover your vehicle damages.

Some drivers choose to add coverages such as roadside assistance or gap insurance. If you buy a vehicle with an auto loan, then you might be required to carry full coverage. Otherwise, you can usually choose your level of coverage, as long as it meets the state's minimum insurance requirements.

How To Get Insurance as a Foreigner

Very few insurance providers offer insurance to drivers without a U.S. license. According to ValuePenguin, the following insurance providers offer coverage to international drivers:

  • Progressive

  • Farmers

You might find other providers that offer insurance to international drivers by speaking with a representative.

Once you have your IDP and a copy of your U.S. driver's license, you can begin looking for car insurance, at which point you will usually have more options available. Compare quotes among providers to get the best and most affordable rates.

Most U.S. car insurance companies consider many factors when giving quotes, including your age, driving record, gender, and location. Younger drivers or those with poor driving records will pay higher rates. International drivers can usually expect higher rates because the provider cannot access your driving record and you do not have a credit score.

U.S. insurance companies consider drivers with bad driving records or no driving records to be higher risk, which results in higher rates. Insurance companies calculate these factors differently, however, making it important to request quotes from multiple providers.

Shopping around will help you find the best insurance rates as a foreigner. If your trip to the U.S. is long, then getting a U.S. driver's license will provide you with more options. Check this out if you need additional information, resources, or guidance on car insurance.

Sources:

https://www.valuepenguin.com/foreign-driver-car-insurance

https://www.4autoinsurancequote.com/auto-insurance-for-non-us-citizens/

https://www.caranddriver.com/car-insurance/a35876857/cheap-car-insurance-for-new-drivers-under-21/

https://www.caranddriver.com/car-insurance/a35841342/first-time-car-insurance/

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