With so many people from around the world living in the U.S., it is natural to wonder and ask, “Can I get auto insurance with a foreign license?” The short answer is that you can, but you may not be able to from every insurance company. We’ll walk you through what you need to get auto insurance in the U.S. without a U.S. driver’s license.
Can I Get Auto Insurance with a Foreign License in the U.S.?
The short answer is yes. The longer answer is that you can, but it may take a bit more effort than getting one with an American license. It depends completely on the carrier you choose, but all insurance providers require a valid driver’s license.
Some insurance companies will gladly sell you coverage with just your foreign driver’s license. However, others may also require you to get an international driver’s license or an international driver’s permit (IDP). This depends entirely on the company you choose. You can get insurance without an IDP, though it may not be easy.
How to Buy Auto Insurance in the U.S.
As you look at auto insurers, be careful as there are some scam companies and insurance agents. These companies prey on foreigners unfamiliar with the U.S. insurance system and try to sell you insurance that is illegal or a scam. You can avoid this by always looking for insurers with a strong reputation, excellent reviews and high ratings.
It is also worth mentioning that many insurance companies offer short-term auto insurance for brief visitors with foreign licenses. This can be a great option if you will only be in the U.S. temporarily or plan to drive in the country for a very short time.
To start shopping for insurance, figure out what type of coverage you need and make sure you have your basic information on hand. Then, you can start comparing companies and policies to see which one best meets your needs.
Remember that you will typically have to input some basic information to get an accurate quote. Expect questions about your age, driving record and car, at the very least.
Assuming that you want the lowest insurance rates, your best option will be to compare quotes from multiple companies. There can be significant variations in the rates between companies, so do not assume that you are being offered a competitive rate without research.
How Much Auto Insurance Do I Need?
In the U.S., each state has the freedom to set its own car insurance standards. This means that each state’s department of motor vehicles (DMV) has slightly different requirements. In other words, the amount of auto insurance that you need might be different in California than in Massachusetts, for example.
Most states require you to have at least liability auto insurance. As a refresher, liability coverage pays for injuries or property damage to others if you are responsible for the collision. This means that if you cause an accident, the liability insurance will pay for the costs of the person you hit.
Depending on the state you live in, you may also need to buy additional car insurance coverage. Some examples include personal injury protection and uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.
Personal injury protection (PIP) insurance can cover your medical expenses and any income loss from an accident, within limits. Coverage is usually up to 80% of the expenses. Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage applies if you are not at fault in an accident with an uninsured driver or one who doesn’t have enough coverage. The insurance would cover whatever costs are left after the other person’s insurance pays its share or it can provide normal coverage if the other driver is completely uninsured.
Other Types of Car Insurance
If you choose to finance a vehicle or lease one, some lenders require having collision and comprehensive insurance as well. Collision insurance can cover damage to your vehicle following an accident. It can repair or replace your car. Comprehensive insurance provides coverage in case of animal-related accidents, certain weather events, vandalism and other events outside your control.
Some coverage plans will also pay for a rental car if you need one during repairs. You do not typically need full coverage auto insurance, although it can be useful.
Cost of auto Insurance in the U.S.
Based on data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), the overall average cost of insurance in the U.S. was $1,056.55 as of 2018. The same report also outlines which U.S. states are the most expensive for auto insurance, which we organized into the following table.
Remember, these figures are averages for each state. Numerous factors will affect your insurance rates. Some of those include:
- Age and years of driving experience
- Marital and homeownership status
- Job, education and credit score
- Vehicle type, safety features and safety rating
- Where you car is parked (garage, on the street, etc.)
- Annual miles driven
- Driving record and past auto insurance claims
- High-risk violations in your driving history
- State coverage requirements
- Qualifying discounts
It is also important to note that when you get auto insurance, you will have a premium and a deductible. The premium is what you pay monthly while the deductible is what you have to pay out of pocket before the insurance company pays for its portion.
If you have a higher insurance premium, you typically have a lower deductible. This means that you can get a lower premium if you opt for a higher deductible. You will have to decide which method makes more sense for your finances and claim history.
Can I Get Auto Insurance Discounts with a Foreign License?
How likely you are to get auto insurance discounts with a license from your country of origin depends on your situation. If you need short-term insurance, there are not usually any discounts.
However, suppose your question is, “Can I get auto insurance with a foreign license and take advantage of discounts on longer coverage?” Then, the answer is usually yes. Most traditional insurance policies offer a range of discounts that lead to cheap auto insurance. The specific ones that are available will depend on the company you get car insurance from.
Some common insurance discounts include those for:
- Vehicle safety features
- Vehicle anti-theft features
- Insuring multiple vehicles
- Bundling with another insurance policy (such as home or renter’s insurance)
- Low mileage and usage
- Being accident-free
- Taking a defensive driving course
Article By: TBD Staff
Source: The Detroit Bureau