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Canadians often think they have to get separate car insurance when they plan a road trip across the U.S. The truth is that Canadian auto insurance is valid in the U.S. most of the time due to the countries sharing similar legal systems.
We’ve ranked the best car insurance companies in the U.S. that take care of coverage differences between Canada and its southern neighbor. Make sure to compare auto insurance quotes from multiple providers if you’re in need of separate coverage for your time in the U.S.
Car Insurance System in the U.S. Versus Canada
Canadian auto insurance is valid in the U.S. much of the time because the two countries share similar insurance laws and regulations. There are a few differences with how claims are made, though, along with varying minimum coverage requirements.
Note that the U.S. has a significantly higher rate of uninsured motorists than Canada, at 12.6%. If your vehicle does not have uninsured motorist coverage, it might be a smart choice to pick up protection before you cross the border.
Minimum coverage in Canada is typically higher than in the U.S., so drivers will usually hold a legal amount of coverage with their current auto insurance policy. Canadian insurance plans and driver’s licenses are valid in the U.S., so you shouldn’t have to get an international driving permit (IDP) when heading south.
What Should I Do if I Get Pulled Over in the U.S.?
If you get pulled over in the U.S., you have little reason to worry. Simply explain the situation to your Canadian car insurance agent and follow all instructions given out by American law enforcement officers.
Visitors from Canada will need to provide proof of insurance, a Canadian license and vehicle registration if they get pulled over. Remember that Canadian drivers don’t need to have U.S. auto insurance to drive in the country, so your current insurance card should be valid.
Although U.S. police wrongfully reject Canadians’ car insurance and driver’s licenses on occasion, this is a rare occurrence. It’s also one that won’t hold up due to the reciprocity agreement between the U.S. and Canada.
Increase Your Car Insurance Coverage Limits
It’s smart for Canadians to increase their civil liability limits up to $2 million if they’re headed to the U.S. While minimum coverage standards are actually lower in most U.S. states than in Canada, motorists get sued for damages far more often south of the border.
Why Should I Increase My Coverage in the U.S.?
Accident disputes commonly go to court in the U.S. since most of the country follows an at-fault insurance system. While only Manitoba and Quebec follow a full no-fault system for car coverage, it’s rare for Canadians to sue other drivers as regularly as U.S. citizens do.
Those who cause accidents in the U.S. are usually liable to cover all bodily injury and property damage needs for others impacted by the crash. That’s not always the case since each state’s department of motor vehicles (DMV) sets different auto insurance rules, but it’s the norm.
Because of this, it’s smart to boost your civil liability limits up to $2 million when traveling around the U.S. You can drive legally with far lower limits, but this coverage is best for Canadians who want to avoid losing significant money in an expensive American lawsuit.
How Do I Lower Auto Insurance Costs?
It’s not always easy to get cheap auto insurance coverage, but there are ways to decrease your costs. When traveling to the U.S., you may be able to decrease your premiums by bundling your car coverage with travel insurance or home insurance policies.
Another way to decrease costs is by setting a higher deductible before your insurer starts paying for damages. Note that this will leave you with higher out of pocket expenses after an accident you cause, though. A better idea may be to get free quotes from various auto insurance providers to find affordable coverage that’s valid in the U.S.
How Will Damage to Canadian Vehicles Be Covered?
Most Canadian insurance providers extend full coverage auto insurance across the border for those who already carry it at home. Double-check with your provider, though, to make sure that this is true of your specific car insurance policy.
If you don’t have collision coverage or comprehensive insurance as part of your Canadian plan, you also won’t have it when traveling in the U.S. Make sure to add these coverages if you’re worried about potential environmental damages and issues caused by theft or vandalism.
How Do I Rent a Car in the U.S.?
American rental cars typically meet their home state’s minimum insurance requirements, but this amount of protection is relatively minor. You could end up paying thousands of dollars out of pocket to cover damages from a rental car accident if you don’t purchase additional coverage.
Auto insurance from car rental companies costs between $20 and $60 per day, depending on your car model and chosen provider. Many Canadian car insurance companies extend protection to rental cars, especially for the following types of coverage:
- Bodily injury liability insurance
- Property damage liability insurance
- Comprehensive coverage
- Collision insurance
- Personal injury protection
If you’ve got an extended stay planned in the U.S., your Canadian provider likely won’t offer rental car insurance for the whole time. As always, it’s best to clarify this with your Canadian car insurance agency before heading out of the country.
Our Recommendations for Auto Insurance
We recommend GEICO and Progressive for auto insurance coverage that’s valid in the U.S. Those who are leaving Canada for an extended period of time should compare multiple auto insurance quotes from American insurers.
It adds peace of mind for many Canadian drivers to carry American auto insurance when traveling through the U.S. While you shouldn’t run into difficulties when filing an insurance claim, it may make things easier to have U.S. car insurance set up from the start.
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GEICO: Best Overall
GEICO has discounts for good drivers, those with newer vehicles and anyone whose car has certain safety features. The company is also known for its various coverage options such as roadside assistance, rental reimbursement and rideshare coverage.
Progressive: Best for High-Risk Drivers
Progressive has been recognized as one the best choices on the market for high-risk drivers. Those who’ve got speeding tickets, at-fault accidents or DUIs on their driving records often find relatively reasonable rates for coverage from Progressive.
Read more: Progressive insurance review
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I use my Canadian car insurance in the U.S.?
Yes, it’s likely that your Canadian auto insurance is valid in the U.S. You may want to consider increasing your coverage limits for additional protection, however.
Does Canadian car insurance coverage extend to rental cars in the U.S.?
Canadian car insurance covers rental cars in the U.S. under most circumstances, but this isn’t always the case. Check with your provider to learn whether you’ll need to add rental car coverage when driving in the U.S.
How much coverage do I need in the U.S.?
Experts suggest that you increase your civil liability coverage to at least $2 million when traveling to the U.S. because of the higher risk of lawsuits after a car accident.
Is Canadian auto insurance valid in Mexico?
No, Canadian auto insurance is not valid in Mexico. You must purchase Mexican car insurance before crossing the border from the U.S., as driving without country-specific coverage could lead to hefty fines or even jail time in Mexico.
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, auto insurance rate estimates generated by Quadrant Information Services, 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.