According to Pew Research, the foreign population reached almost 45 million people in the U.S. by 2018. Many of those foreigners own or lease vehicles, are held to the same state-specific requirements for auto insurance and operate vehicles on U.S. roads daily.
You can get car insurance policies even if you’re in the country for a long time or as a tourist. If you are looking for car insurance for foreigners in the USA, Bankrate can help you navigate car insurance requirements and connect you with some of the best car insurance companies in the U.S.
U.S. short-term visitor insurance
Individuals who are only visiting the country for a few weeks or days. It could be for personal or business reasons. Most likely, you will rent a car. This is the most convenient option. You can rent a vehicle and purchase additional insurance that covers you financially in the event of damage, theft, vandalism, or other accidents.
Renting a car is the easiest way to get a vehicle. However, rental car insurance and other charges can impact your rental car cost. For example, Enterprise charges (per day):
- Personal accident insurance and personal effect coverage from $5.13 to $13
- Supplemental liability protection from $8 to $17
- A collision damage waiver costs $11.99 to $16.99, but some vehicles may cost more.
You can see that adding a collision waiver to your rental car can double the rental price. Check with your credit card company to see if you have an extended rental vehicle coverage. This will help you save money on rental car insurance. Your credit card may cover you instead of the costly rental car insurance that many people purchase at car kiosks. Check that your credit card provides international insurance that covers the United States.
Canadian drivers are usually able to use their auto insurance in Canada while they’re abroad. To confirm, check with your agent prior to you travel. It is worth noting that, while your Canadian car insurance will cover a car you drive while in the U.S. in certain circumstances, that does not include rental cars, which will require rental car insurance.
U.S. long-term visitor car insurance
If they don’t have a U.S. driving license, long-stay visa holders, such as students or specialists, might have difficulty getting affordable insurance coverage. The insurance company may not have enough information about the driver to flag the foreigner as a higher risk.
For long-term visitors, you should apply for a U.S. driving license. An American driving record can help you save money on car insurance when you are ready to purchase a policy.
Permits for international drivers
You should be aware of local laws regarding how long you can legally drive in the USA while you are temporarily driving there with a license from your country. You may only be able to drive on an overseas driver’s license for up to three months.
If you’re only visiting the country for a brief time, it may not be a problem. But if you intend on staying stateside longer than a handful of weeks, some states advise you to get an international driver’s permit. Although an IDP isn’t mandatory, it is a good idea to have one. It doesn’t replace your foreign driver’s licence, but it can be used as an accompanying translation. If you are pulled over, an officer can search the IDP booklet for the translation of your foreign driver’s license in any language.
Before you leave, make sure to contact the traffic or motor vehicle agency in your country to obtain an international driver’s license. Your IDP will be delivered in approximately two weeks. Make sure you apply early. The IDP will be valid for one year after you receive it. It also includes your information on your driver’s licence. An IDP will require you to submit a passport-style photograph that can be attached by the agency.
U.S. drivers permits
It is easier to obtain a U.S. driver’s license than in other countries. Many states offer study materials, both online and printed, and multiple language tests. The cost of getting a driver’s license is also affordable compared to other countries. Preparing and getting a German driver’s licence could cost as much as $3,700, while it costs as little as $20 to get one in the U.S.
U.S. requirements for car insurance
The location you intend to stay in the U.S. will also affect your car insurance. Each state has its own insurance regulations and rules. Most states require liability insurance in order to legally drive. This covers the damage and loss you cause others. A small number of states also require you to have underinsured/uninsured motorist insurance, which steps in to pay your expenses if the party at fault did not have insurance.
Personal injury protection is another type of coverage that some states require before you are allowed to drive legally. It is also known as no fault insurance. It pays for burial and medical costs regardless of who was at fault.
Are I required to purchase car insurance if I travel to the U.S.
All foreigners who are allowed to drive a vehicle in the U.S. must have car insurance. This applies regardless of whether your stay is short or long. If you plan on driving a rental car in the U.S., most rental companies will offer the option to purchase coverage for the entire rental period, as the protection extends to the rental vehicle itself. Long-term coverage may require you to purchase a separate insurance policy. This will provide adequate coverage for your extended stay.
Many foreign visitors decide to ship their vehicles to the USA. You will need to buy a separate policy for car insurance before you are allowed to legally drive your vehicle on U.S. roads. Many of the lowest-priced car insurance companies will help you find the right amount coverage for your foreign vehicle at a reasonable rate so that you can drive as soon as it arrives in the U.S.
Questions frequently asked
What is a REAL ID?
A REAL ID is a driver’s license that can also be used as identification when you fly. The U.S. is replacing traditional driver’s licenses with REAL IDs.
Are I required to purchase car insurance if I travel to the U.S.
You don’t need separate insurance if you are visiting America for a short time and intend to rent a car. However, insurance provided by the rental agency will provide liability coverage. You can purchase additional coverage by paying a daily fee.
Can an international driver’s license be used without a license
The IDP is only a translation of your foreign driver’s license. An international driver’s permit cannot be used in place of your foreign driver license.