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 do to get auto insurance in the U.S. without a U.S. driver’s license.
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Can I Get Auto Insurance With a Foreign License in the U.S.?
The short answer to the question, “Can I get auto insurance with a foreign license in the U.S.?” 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 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. “Can I get U.S. auto insurance with a Canadian license?” is a similar question that we’ve answered separately.
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 of 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 and least expensive for auto insurance, which we organized into the following table.
|Rank||Least Expensive States||Most Expensive States|
|1||North Dakota ($686.08)||Louisiana ($1,545.82)|
|2||Maine ($686.25)||Michigan ($1,469.73)|
|3||Iowa ($700.71)||District of Columbia ($1,429.43)|
|4||South Dakota ($721.67)||Florida ($1,426.46)|
|5||Idaho ($722.06)||New York ($1,425.00)|
|6||North Carolina ($734.06)||New Jersey ($1,385.61)|
|7||Wisconsin ($755.97)||Rhode Island ($1,333.12)|
|8||Wyoming ($765.81)||Delaware ($1,291.39)|
|9||Indiana ($767.72)||Nevada ($1,260.43)|
|10||Vermont ($778.29)||Connecticut ($1,216.55)|
Remember that 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 your car is parked (in a 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
Our Recommendations for Auto Insurance
To save you the hassle, we found the providers that deliver a yes if you ask, “Can I get auto insurance with a foreign license?” We are sharing our recommendations for non-U.S. citizens.
We suggest you consider insurance from GEICO, Progressive or State Farm. Each of these companies offers insurance in all 50 states.
One of the best ways to get multiple auto insurance quotes quickly is to use a comparison tool. Enter your ZIP code below to start getting free quotes.
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GEICO: Best Overall
GEICO is our best overall choice for auto insurance for those with either a foreign license or an American license. The company earned an overall rating of 9.1 out of 10.0. Our team gives it a 9.5 for industry reputation, 9.0 for coverage, 9.0 for cost and 9.0 for customer experience.
Progressive: Best for High-Risk Drivers
Progressive offers some of the top auto insurance plans in the U.S., especially for those with a poor driving background or credit history. We gave Progressive a score of 8.9 out of 10.0 for its extensive plans and relatively forgiving policy after accidents. This includes a score of 9.5 for industry reputation, 9.0 for coverage, and 8.5 for both cost and customer experience. Learn more in our complete Progressive car insurance review.
State Farm: Best Student Discounts
State Farm is another excellent choice, with an overall rating of 8.5. This includes its 9.5 rating from our team for industry reputation. State Farm earns an 8.0 for cost and customer experience, along with an 8.5 for coverage.
FAQ: Can I Get Auto Insurance With a Foreign License?
Can you drive in the U.S. with a foreign license?
Yes, it is perfectly legal to drive in the U.S. with a foreign license.
Which providers offer auto insurance for foreign drivers?
Many providers offer auto insurance for foreign drivers. After careful analysis, our team recommends GEICO, Progressive and State Farm.
Do I need an international driving permit to buy auto insurance?
Not all insurance companies require you to have an international driving permit (IDP) to buy auto insurance, but some do. This will depend on the company you choose to get coverage from.
The Detroit Bureau collects data from every major car insurance provider to formulate rankings of the best insurers. Our in-depth rating system takes into account market share, coverage, pricing, customer satisfaction and ratings from industry experts. Each insurer is given a weighted score in four categories, as well as an overall score out of 10.0.
We recommend auto insurance companies based on these rankings, but we also encourage you to perform your own research and compare quotes to find the best coverage.