If you aren’t a United States citizen, there are special details to consider before buying a car, like how to get licensed and insured. This guide provides a summary of everything you need to know about car insurance for international students.
The chart below gives an overview of what we believe are the best auto insurance companies for international students, but be sure to read the entire guide for a more detailed analysis. Also try our quote comparison tool or call the provided phone number to compare car insurance rates in your area.
Best Car Insurance For International Students
It can be hard to find the best car insurance for international students. To help you make the most informed decision, we looked at some of the nation’s top car insurance providers and evaluated them based on factors such as availability, cost, discounts, and reputation. Here is what we found during our research.
|Best Car Insurance For International Students||Our Overall Rating||Affordability Rating||Coverage Rating||Good Student Discount||Non-Owner Insurance|
|2. State Farm||4.6||4.5||4.5||✓||✓|
|3. Erie Insurance||4.5||5||4.3||✓|
|5. Auto-Owners Insurance||4.4||4.9||4.3||✓|
*You may notice that some car insurance companies are listed above those with higher star ratings. This is because our ratings take into account nationwide factors, while our ranking for this article looks specifically at which are the best car insurance providers for international students.
#1 Geico Insurance
Geico auto insurance is well-known for a reason. The car insurance company has a high level of customer satisfaction, stable financial status, and often the cheapest auto insurance rates.
Geico is a good choice for car insurance for international students because it offers premium discounts for student drivers in good academic standing. Geico has also partnered with the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students (NAGPS) to offer special discounts to members, and Geico offers some of the lowest prices for non-owner insurance. Check out our review of Geico insurance to learn more.
#2 State Farm Insurance
State Farm is known for handling claims quickly. Like Geico, it has a high level of customer satisfaction and offers discounts for student drivers with good grades. When we performed our industry review, we named State Farm auto insurance the best for students for its many discount opportunities and programs like Steer ClearⓇ, a safe driving app for drivers under age 25.
Note that State Farm car insurance is not available in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. State Farm also offers low prices on non-owner insurance. Learn more in our review of State Farm auto insurance.
#3 Erie Insurance
Erie auto insurance is a good choice for new drivers looking for discounts for safe driving or reduced usage (like if you don’t plan to drive your vehicle for 90 consecutive days). The reduced usage discount may be attractive if you plan to leave the U.S. for a summer between semesters. Learn more in our Erie Insurance review.
Keep in mind that Erie is a regional insurance provider and only available in the following locations:
|District of Columbia||Illinois||Indiana||Kentucky||Maryland||New York||North Carolina|
#4 AAA (American Automobile Association) Insurance
AAA car insurance is a good choice for younger drivers because the insurer offers a student discount. We recommend AAA because it is an industry leader with good customer feedback, though the quality of service seems to vary from state to state. To purchase AAA insurance, you need to first be a member of AAA’s roadside assistance program. Learn more in our review of AAA insurance.
#5 Auto-Owners Insurance
Auto-Owners Insurance offers competitively priced policies and student driver discounts. You may be able to find some of the cheapest car insurance for international students. Like Erie, Auto-Owners is only available in select states:
|North Dakota||Nebraska||New Hampshire||Ohio||Pennsylvania||South Carolina|
To start comparing car insurance quotes, simply enter your zip code in the quote tool or call the number below to compare rates, and find the best car insurance policy for you.
Car Insurance Requirements For International Students
U.S. cities are spaced far apart, and public transportation within and between these cities is often poor or nonexistent. Access to a car and the ability to drive is a necessity for many living in the United States.
In addition to the car itself, all drivers need two things: a valid driver’s license and proof of insurance. Insurance is important because car accidents aren’t only dangerous – they’re expensive. Even a low-speed crash can cause damages ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 or higher.
Car insurance for international students works the same as it does for everyone else in the United States. However, buying car insurance isn’t always simple, partly because there are a variety of different types of car insurance coverage. Most providers offer the following standard types:
- Liability coverage: Liability auto insurance pays for injuries to other people and property damage in the event of an accident where you are at fault. It will not help pay for your own car’s repairs.
- Collision coverage: Collision pays for repairs to your car in the event of a collision with another vehicle or object. It will cover the cost of your own repairs, even if it was you that caused the accident.
- Comprehensive coverage: Comprehensive car insurance pays for repairs to your vehicle after non-collision events such as theft, vandalism, or natural disasters.
- Personal injury protection (PIP): PIP pays for your medical expenses that result from an accident and may even reimburse lost wages if your injuries cause you to miss work.
- Medical payments (MedPay): MedPay covers your medical expenses as well as those of your passengers.
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM): Even though car insurance is legally required by most states, not every driver has it. UM/UIM will pay to repair your vehicle after an accident with an uninsured driver or a driver that cannot cover the full cost of damages.
Minimum insurance requirements vary by state, so be sure to check local laws. In most cases, it’s not a good idea to purchase only the minimum required coverage. Many states only require liability insurance, which will not pay for repairs to your own vehicle if you are at fault. You can even be sued if you cause an accident and your insurance does not cover the entire cost of the repairs.
Car Insurance Alternatives
There are some cases in which you can drive without purchasing standard car insurance for international students. If you plan on buying a car, you will need car insurance. If you only plan to drive in the U.S. for a short period of time, you might choose to rent a car instead of buying one. When you rent a car, insurance is usually included under the rental agreement.
Other alternatives to consider are short-term car insurance and non-owner insurance. These are cheaper than annual plans and good options if you will only drive for a short period of time. Non-owner insurance can be used if you do not own a car but intend to regularly borrow a friend’s vehicle.
How To Get Driver’s License In The U.S.
In addition to car insurance for international students, you need a license to drive legally in the U.S. In fact, you will not be able to purchase car insurance if you do not first have a driver’s license. International students can apply for a state-issued driver’s license or buy an international driver’s permit.
Any F, M, or J non-immigrant in lawful status is able to apply for a driver’s license in the U.S., though the specific requirements and steps for doing so are different in each state. If you want to get a license, it’s best to seek advice from someone in the international student affairs office at your school.
While the details for getting a license are different in every state, you will generally need your passport, visa, and proof of legal residence – which could include a national ID, recent utility bill, recent bank statement, or rental payment statement. You will need to fill out various forms, which you can learn more about at your international student affairs office.
Once you’ve collected the necessary documents, the process for getting a driver’s license is the same as it is for any U.S. citizen. This usually includes:
- Eye exam: You will be allowed to wear corrective lenses to complete the eye exam. If you do so, this will be noted on your license, and you will be required to wear glasses or contacts whenever driving.
- Written test: The specifics of this test are different in every state. Most states have online resources and/or study guides available at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
- Driving test: The specifics of this test also vary by state, but generally require you show an ability to follow basic traffic laws and perform regular driving actions like turning and parking.
International Driver’s Permit
An international driver’s permit acts the same as a driver’s license and can be used to purchase car insurance for international students. To apply for one, you must have a driver’s license in your home country for at least six months.
An international driver’s permit is valid for one year and can be renewed. You can only buy an international driver’s permit from the American Automobile Association or American Automobile Touring Alliance.
How To Find Car Insurance For International Students
Once you have a driver’s license or an international driver’s permit, you will be able to buy car insurance. Be aware that many insurance companies will request a driving history record from your home country.
There are numerous car insurance providers in the United States, and the cost of coverage – an annual or semi-annual fee called a premium – varies depending on several factors:
- The city you live in
- Driving record
- Vehicle make and model
- Marital status
- Credit score
There is no one best option for everyone, so it is important to compare car insurance quotes if you want to save money.
Unfortunately, car insurance costs for international students tend to be expensive. Young drivers and those without a credit score or much driving experience are likely to have higher premiums. There are companies that offer special discounts to students and safe drivers though, so it isn’t impossible to find a good auto insurance rate.
We recommend you start with our suggestions and use the quote tool below to compare rates and find the best auto insurance policy for you.
FAQ About Car Insurance For International Students
In an effort to provide accurate and unbiased information to consumers, our expert review team collects data from dozens of auto insurance providers to formulate rankings of the best insurers. Companies receive a score in each of the following categories, as well as an overall weighted score out of 5.0 stars.
- Industry Standing: Insurers with strong financial ratings and customer-first business practices receive the highest scores in this category.
- Availability: We consider availability by state as well as exclusions for specific groups of drivers.
- Coverage: This rating is based on types of insurance available, maximum coverage limits, and add-on policies.
- Cost and Discounts: Our research team reviews sample quotes for a variety of drivers in every state. Companies with lower prices and many car insurance discount opportunities receive the best scores.
- Customer Service: We comb through customer reviews and consumer feedback studies from experts like J.D. Power.
- Technology: Auto insurers with mobile apps, advanced online services and telematics are more likely to meet consumer needs.