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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.

We’ve also reviewed the best car insurance companies in the country, and our recommendations are a good place to start for anyone looking to buy car insurance, including international students.

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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 StudentsOur Overall RatingAffordability RatingCoverage RatingGood Student DiscountNon-Owner Insurance
1. State Farm4.74.64.6
2. Geico4.64.64.2
3. Liberty Mutual4.54.64.4
4. Travelers4.54.44.7
5. Erie Insurance4.44.94.3

*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 State Farm Insurance

State Farm is known for handling claims quickly. The company also 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 Overall 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.



#2 Geico Insurance

Geico auto insurance is well-known for a reason. Like State Farm, the car insurance company has a high level of customer satisfaction, stable financial status. Geico also offers some of the cheapest auto insurance rates in the industry.

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.



#3 Liberty Mutual

According to the results of our 2022 car insurance survey, Liberty Mutual consistently ranked among the most affordable auto insurance companies in the country. We found Liberty Mutual to be the Best for Teens, as the company offers a number of discounts that are great for teen drivers.

Liberty Mutual is a good choice for international student drivers as it offers cheap non-owner car insurance and a good student discount for those who maintain at least a B average. Read more in our review of Liberty Mutual insurance.



#4 Travelers

Travelers is one of the most popular insurers around, as its car insurance rates are typically below the national average. This is great for international students looking for cheap car insurance during their stay in the U.S. In addition to its low insurance premiums, Travelers offers many discounts, including savings for motorists who have taken a safe driving course and high school and college students that maintain a B average or higher. Check out our full review of Travelers insurance to learn more.



#5 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
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

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.

An infographic table that shows what the six standard types of insurance do and don't cover, and where they're required.

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.

Driver’s License

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
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Marital status
  • Credit score
  • Profession

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.

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FAQ About Car Insurance For International Students