If you’re visiting the U.S. from Canada for an extended period of time and plan to drive your vehicle, you may be wondering, “can I get U.S. auto insurance with a Canadian license?”
The answer varies by insurer. Some insurance companies have fewer restrictions than others and are more likely to sell U.S auto coverage to foreign license holders.
Once you know what requirements you’ll need to meet to get insurance in the States, enter the zip code where you’ll be staying in the U.S. below to get free insurance quotes from insurers in that area. Our team of experts has reviewed every major insurance provider to identify the best car insurers.
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Can Canadians Legally Drive in the U.S.?
The good news is your Canadian driver’s license is legal in the U.S. But if you’re driving your car across the border, your Canadian car insurance coverage may not be valid. This means you’ll need to buy a short-term auto insurance policy for your car.
However, if you’re planning on staying for a long period of time, or are permanently moving to the U.S., you can switch your driver’s license over to the state where you’re living within 10 to 30 days, depending on your U.S. state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, or DMV. Rules vary state by state.
If you’re visiting for tourism or business purposes, you likely will not need to obtain a driver’s license, although procuring an international driver’s license, also known as an International Driving Permit, or IDP, is a good idea.
Can You Legally Drive in Canada With a U.S. License?
If you’re an American visiting Canada, your U.S. driver’s license and car insurance from the States are valid in Canada for up to six months. After that, you’re required to obtain a Canadian driver’s license and insurance.
How to Plan for U.S. Auto Insurance Before Moving from Canada
If you’re planning to move to the U.S. from Canada, apply for a visa while in your home country. Once it’s approved, immediately apply for a Social Security number. It can take as long as three weeks to obtain, but it will be needed for a number of business and governmental transactions.
Next, obtain a work visa if you’re going to be seeking a job. Keep in mind, this can take as long as three months to obtain. Next, set up a bank account and apply for a secured credit card to build your credit history. Finally, go to your state’s DMV to obtain a U.S. driver’s license.
How Soon Do You Need to Get a U.S. Driver’s License After Moving?
While some insurance companies will sell you a U.S. insurance policy with a Canadian license, many require that foreign drivers obtain a U.S. driver’s license within 30 days. This timeframe may vary by state, so it’s best to check with the DMV in the area you’re moving to.
Can You Buy a Car in the U.S. With a Foreign License?
Yes, you can buy a car in the U.S. with a foreign license, but it may not be easy. While a dealership or private party might sell you a car with a foreign driver’s license, getting it registered and insured could be difficult. This is because a valid driver’s license and valid insurance coverage from the U.S. are required to register a vehicle, which usually means establishing U.S. residency.
In addition, states have insurance coverage minimums that you are required to purchase to legally drive the car, including liability insurance. Check with your U.S. state’s DMV to make sure you’re carrying adequate insurance coverage.
What You Need to Know About Auto Insurance in Canada Vs. the U.S.
Both the U.S. and Canada have similarities when it comes to insurance coverage. Regardless of which country you’re driving in, you’ll likely be required to have car insurance and proof of financial responsibility to pay for damages should you cause an accident. However, in Canada, the national government sets insurance requirements for all provinces, but in the U.S., individual states set their own insurance requirements.
In both countries, you must be able to show proof of insurance on demand, although such instances are rare. If you cause an accident, your insurance is required to pay for damages, and if you fail to buy full coverage, the insurer won’t cover the cost of repairing your vehicle.
Keep in mind that, similarly to some U.S. states, some Canadian provinces have no-fault insurance laws. This means that injuries are paid out by your own insurance company no matter who is at fault for the accident. That said, it’s not unusual for the government, not the insurer, to pay injury claims in some Canadian provinces.
Other differences between U.S. and Canadian car insurance are that, in Canada, if you don’t pay your insurance bill, your car automatically loses its registration. Also, they’re called different things. If someone in Canada asks to see your “pink card,” they’re referring to the Canadian Interprovincial Motor Vehicle Liability Insurance Card, which is just called an insurance card in the States.
Our Recommendations for Auto Insurance
Before you decide on an insurer, check to make sure the company you’re considering is appropriately licensed in your state or in Canada. It’s also a good idea to research an auto insurance company’s financial stability, as this affects its ability to pay out claims.
To help you, our team of experts has narrowed down a few top choices for car insurance in the U.S. Read on to learn more about the two companies that are our highest-rated recommendations based on their reputations, availability, coverage, costs, discounts and customer experiences.
As mentioned, car insurance prices can vary depending on a number of factors, including your driving record. You can start getting free car insurance quotes from top U.S. providers below.
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Best Overall: GEICO
GEICO is our top choice for auto insurance in the U.S. We give it an overall score of 9.1 out of 10.0 and rate it especially highly for industry reputation. GEICO holds an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), as well as an A++ rating in financial strength from AM Best. This means it works to resolve customer complaints and has a superior ability to pay out customer claims. In addition to great service, the company offers a wide range of discounts on full coverage auto insurance and other policies.
Best for High-Risk Drivers: Progressive
Progressive is America’s third-largest insurer based on market share, and it offers coverage on nearly anything motorized. We rate Progressive 8.9 out of 10.0 and recognize it as the best choice for high-risk drivers.
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.