Auto insurance is a requirement in most states. If you aren’t a citizen of the United States, it can be difficult to find car insurance. In this article, we’ll explain how to obtain car insurance for non-U.S. citizens and answer the five most-asked questions about the process.
In this article:
- What Is An International Driving Permit?
- Where Can I Obtain An IDP?
- Can I Rent A Car Instead Of Buying Car Insurance?
- How Much Insurance Is Required In The U.S.?
- Do I Have To Have A U.S. License To Be Insured?
- What Will My Car Insurance Cost?
- Our Recommended Car Insurance Providers
What Is An International Driving Permit?
An international driving permit (IDP) is a permit that gives visitors the right to drive in any of the countries that accept the permit. While laws regarding driving privileges differ, states in the U.S. accept IDPs.
It is a smart idea to obtain an IDP before you enter the U.S. in addition to a driver’s license from your country. Many states require that you hold an IDP and a foreign license in order to drive.
Even if the state in the U.S. you are moving to does not require an IDP, you will not have to take a driving test in the U.S. to obtain your license if you have both of these licenses. Therefore, it is always recommended that you get an IDP.
Where Can I Obtain An IDP?
If you are over 18 years old and have a valid license, you can apply for an IDP through your country’s transportation department. The department should have information on the steps needed to obtain your IDP and may charge you a small fee to get it.
Can I Rent A Car Instead Of Buying Car Insurance?
If you’re planning to stay in the U.S. for less than a month, it is smart for you to rent a car. An IDP will give you the ability to drive a rental car, and rental car companies offer coverage for international drivers called supplemental liability protection.
According to Allstate, rental car agencies typically provide three types of car insurance for non-U.S. citizens.
- Liability coverage: This type of coverage protects you in case you injure someone or their property and you are at fault.
- Personal effects coverage: This type of coverage covers your personal items, such as your laptop and suit, if they are stolen from your vehicle.
- Personal accident insurance: This type of coverage helps pay the medical bills for you and your passengers if you’re injured in a rental car accident.
If you’d prefer to not rent a car, another option would be to ask someone in the U.S. if you could borrow their vehicle. If the vehicle is already insured, you do not have to worry about purchasing insurance.
If you are planning to stay in the U.S. for a long period of time, then neither of these options are recommended.
How Much Insurance Is Required In the U.S.?
Each state dictates what type of insurance is required to drive a motor vehicle. Most states require a minimum level of liability auto insurance, which pays for the medical bills and property damage of other drivers and passengers in an at-fault accident.
If you are planning to lease or finance your vehicle, you will also likely have to pay for collision insurance and comprehensive car insurance. Collision insurance protects your vehicle if it’s damaged in an accident. Comprehensive insurance protects your vehicle from damage not related to accidents, such as damage from natural disasters, animals, theft, and vandalism.
Do I Have To Have A U.S. License To Be Insured?
Car insurance for non-U.S. citizens does not necessitate a U.S. license. But, if you are planning to stay in the U.S. for a long period of time, it is advisable to pursue a U.S. license. Here are a few reasons it benefits you to obtain a U.S. license:
- Lack of driving experience on record: It is unlikely that your driving experience from your home country will transfer to the U.S. As such, car insurance may be very expensive for you. With a U.S. license, you can begin to build up your driving experience and decrease your premium.
- Cost of insurance premium: Having a U.S. license lowers your insurance premium over time. Without a U.S. driver’s license, insurance companies have a difficult time seeing your driving record and your credit score. This raises your rates.
What Will My Car Insurance Cost?
The cost of car insurance for non-U.S. citizens depends on several factors, including:
- Your vehicle’s make, model, and year
- Your age
- Your driving experience
- Your state
According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average annual auto insurance premium was $1,004.68 in 2017. Unfortunately, foreign drivers are generally not considered to have any driving experience until they begin driving with a U.S driving license. Because of this, your rate is likely to be far higher than $1,004.68.
Our Recommended Car Insurance Providers
Some insurance companies do not offer car insurance for non-U.S, citizens. That being said, there is a great chance the two providers below will insure you, and they are among the best auto insurance companies in the nation.
Here is why we these two providers stand out among the competition:
Progressive: 4.5 Stars
Progressive is one of the top car insurance companies in the nation, owning over 12 percent of the auto insurance market according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) and receiving a 4.5-star rating from our review team. Progressive auto insurance is available to drivers with a foreign license.
In addition to offering standard coverages like liability insurance and collision insurance, Progressive offers roadside assistance, rental car reimbursement, rideshare coverage, and more. Plus, Progressive has many money-saving features, including:
- A deductible savings bank
- Usage-based insurance
You can use Progressive’s Name Your PriceⓇ tool to find a plan that fits your budget.
To learn more, read our full Progressive insurance review.
Geico: 4.5 Stars
Geico is one of the largest insurance companies in the U.S. and our pick for best overall auto insurance company. As a part of national holding company Berkshire Hathaway, Geico wrote over $34 billion in premiums in 2019, according to the NAIC.
Geico auto insurance received a 4.5-star rating in our review for its availability, affordable cost, and excellent customer service. The company holds an A++ financial strength rating from AM Best, which means that Geico is well-suited to pay claims to members.
To learn more, read our full Geico review.
Deciding Which Provider Is Right For You
When shopping for car insurance, we recommend getting auto insurance quotes from multiple providers so you can compare coverage and rates. In addition to the insurance company you choose, factors such as your age, vehicle make and model, and driving history can affect your premium, so what’s best for your neighbor might not be best for you.
Aside from Progressive and Geico, we also encourage you to consider reading our State Farm insurance review.
Enter your zip code in our tool below or call (844) 246-8209 to start comparing personalized car insurance quotes:
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.
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