Auto Insurance for Non-US Citizens and Foreign Drivers

 To drive a car in the United States, you need auto insurance, even if you are not a US citizen.

Auto insurance with an international driver's license is required in the United States, so it's important to understand what type of coverage you need.

If you are a short-term visitor and want to rent a car, you can get the necessary coverage from the rental company. But, if you plan to stay for a long time, you may need to purchase non-US citizen auto insurance from a US-based insurance company.

Do I need an international driver's license to drive in the US?
Yes, you need an international driving permit. To obtain the permit, you will need to complete an application form and submit your identification details. Make sure to apply for an international driving permit before leaving your home country.

Depending on your country of residence, you may need to contact your local post office or automobile association for more information on obtaining an IDP.

What is an International Driving Permit (IDP)?
An International Driving Permit, commonly known as an IDP, is a document obtained from your home country to prove that you have a license.

However, an IDP is not considered a valid driver's license in the United States . Instead, it is a translation of your foreign driver's license. And it must always be accompanied by the original driving license from your country of residence.

You must also meet the driving requirements of your home country to obtain a legal driver's license.

How do you get an IDP?
You can apply for an International Driving Permit (IDP) if you are at least 18 years old and have a valid driver's license. To obtain your IDP, you will need to check with the department of transportation and regulations of your respective country.

Also, make sure you get your IDP before you arrive in the United States. You can only get an IDP from the country where your license was originally issued.

What are the insurance requirements in the US?
If you plan to stay in the United States for more than a month, it will be wiser to buy or lease a car instead of renting one.

To drive in the United States you must have a valid license and an automobile insurance policy , one for non-US citizens, that meets the requirements required by the state. Most states require drivers to carry liability coverage , which varies by state but generally includes protection against property damage and bodily injury.

Can I buy auto insurance for my vehicle if I am not a US resident?
If you can meet the license requirements within 60 days, most insurance companies will issue you a standard policy even if you have a foreign license.

If you want to get a license without being a US citizen, you can use online resources to prepare for a driving test. If you can't meet the licensing requirements after 60 days, the insurance company will cancel your policy and refund your payment.

Types of auto insurance coverage in the US

  • Liability coverage: Liability covers the other driver's bodily injury and any property damage if you are at fault in an accident.
  • Collision Coverage: Protects you if you are at fault in a collision and your car is damaged.
  • Comprehensive Coverage: Provides protection against weather-related damage, theft, animal/vehicle collisions, and vandalism.
  • Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Coverage: Helps you pay for medical bills and even covers property damage if the other at-fault driver doesn't have auto insurance.
  • Personal Injury Protection: PIP covers the cost of your medical treatment after a collision, regardless of who is at fault.

How to get car insurance for a non-US citizen with an international license?
Your International Driving Permit serves as proof that you can drive in the United States. However, some states require that you not only have your IDP but also your foreign license.

If you have an IDP and your foreign license is valid, then the process of obtaining auto insurance can be simple.

What factors do auto insurance companies look for when deciding to insure, or not insure, non-US citizens?
There are a number of things that could make it harder or easier to get car insurance if you're a non-citizen and expecting to drive with a foreign license, or even if you're a non-US citizen and have an in-state driver's license:

  • Age: Insurance companies tend to look more favorably on non-US citizens looking for auto insurance who are 25 or older (that's the case for US drivers, too). Even if you have an IDP or in-state driver's license, if you're under 25, you may have trouble getting insurance, and you'll likely pay higher monthly premiums than older immigrants.
    If you're under 18 and not a US citizen, your chances of getting auto insurance are very low.
  • Driving history : If you've had any accidents or speeding tickets, that might affect your chances of being insured, but it will definitely increase your premiums.
  • Credit History: Auto insurance providers may look at your credit history to determine your insurance eligibility and rates.
  • Auto insurance for short-term foreign visitors: If you are visiting the United States for a short period of time, it may not be worth buying an auto insurance policy. It is best to obtain temporary auto insurance coverage from any car rental agency, which will cover any accidents that occur during your stay in the United States.
  • Car insurance for long-term foreign visitors: If you are going to be in the US for an extended period of time and plan to buy or lease a car, it is important that you obtain your own insurance policy. In most states, auto insurance is required to drive or register a vehicle.
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