Car Insurance for Foreigners – Cheap Insurance for Non-US Citizens

Last Updated on September 9, 2021

As a foreigner in the United States, you may need to buy car insurance. Non-US citizens might buy car insurance to protect a rental car, for example, or to cover their liability when driving someone’s vehicle.

Yes, foreigners can buy car insurance in the United States. In fact, many non-US citizens find cheap car insurance that provides superior protection.

Today, we’re explaining how car insurance works for foreigners in the United States, including how you can find affordable car insurance as a non-US citizen.

How to Get Car Insurance as a Non-US Citizen

Car Insurance for ForeignersWhether you’re a tourist, an immigrant, an undocumented immigrant, a visiting student, or an employee of a US company, you may need to buy car insurance as a non-US citizen.

Ideally, you already have an international driving permit (IDP), which proves you can legally drive in the United States (or any country in the world). In most states, you must carry your IDP and your home country’s driving license with you when driving. Otherwise, you may not have adequate proof of being a licensed driver.

If you have an IDP and a valid driver’s license from your home country, then obtaining car insurance in the United States should be easy.

In fact, obtaining car insurance as a non-US citizen may be as easy as it is for ordinary US citizens. You compare quotes online, request a quote from a company you like, or call an insurance agent to obtain insurance.

How to Get Cheap Car Insurance

Non-US citizens may pay higher or lower rates for car insurance depending on risk. Generally, car insurance companies that insure foreigners err on the side of caution by charging higher rates.

Some insurers verify your driving record by contacting your home country. Most insurers, however, consider you to be a new driver with no driving history. That means you may pay higher rates.

Whether or not your insurer checks your driving record depends on your country of origin. Some insurers check your driving record no matter where your home country is. Other insurers ignore international driving records entirely.

If an insurer does not verify your driving record, it could be an advantage or disadvantage.

If you have 30+ years of clean driving experience in your home country, then you want your insurer to check your driving record. You have decades of verifiable clean driving experience. You should pay low rates for car insurance in the United States. Ideally, you’ll pick an insurer that checks your driving record.

Or, if you have multiple at-fault accidents in your home country in the last 10 years, then you don’t want an insurer to check your home country’s driving record. You may want to keep that driving record hidden from your insurer.

On applications, most insurers ask if you have any claims in the past 7 years – regardless of where those claims took place. If you don’t answer truthfully, future insurance claims could be denied.

How Much Car Insurance Do I Need as a Non-US Citizen?

In order to drive in the United States, you are required to purchase auto insurance coverage. The only state that does not require auto insurance coverage in America is New Hampshire. Regardless of where you live, however, we strongly recommend that you buy adequate coverage before getting behind the wheel of a vehicle. Each state has it’s own auto insurance minimum requirements.

It’s important to note that you will see auto insurance limits advertised in a three-number format, i.e. 15/30/10. In this example, 15/30/10 means the policy offers:

  • $15,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
  • $30,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
  • $10,000 of property damage liability per accident

View the table below to see how much coverage you will need in the state you are planning to reside in:

AlabamaLiability: 25/50/25
AlaskaLiability: 50/100/25
ArizonaLiability: 15/30/10
ArkansasLiability: 25/50/25
CaliforniaLiability: 15/30/5
ColoradoLiability: 25/50/15
ConnecticutLiability: 25/50/25
UM/UIM BI: 20/40
DelawareLiability: 25/50/10
PIP: 15/30
District of ColumbiaLiability: 25/50/10
UM BI: 25/50
UMPD: $5,000
FloridaLiability: 10/20/10
PIP: $10,000
BI liability not required by Florida but many insurers require 10/20
GeorgiaLiability: 25/50/25
HawaiiLiability: 20/40/10
PIP or PPO: $10,000
IdahoLiability: 25/50/15
IllinoisLiability: 25/50/20
UM BI: 25/50
IndianaLiability: 25/50/25
IowaLiability: 20/40/15
KansasLiability: 25/50/25
UM/UIM BI: 25/50
PIP: $4,500 medical/$900 work loss
KentuckyLiability: 25/50/25
PIP: $10,000
LouisianaLiability: 15/30/25
MaineLiability: 50/100/25
UM/UIM BI: 50/100
Medical payments: $2,000
MarylandLiability: 30/60/15
UM/UIM BI: 30/60
UMPD: $15,000
PIP $2,500
MassachusettsLiability: 20/40/5
UM/UIM BI: 20/40
PIP: $8,000
MichiganLiability: 20/40/10
PIP: Medical and work loss
PPI: $1,000,000
MinnesotaLiability: 30/60/10
UM/UIM BI: 25/50
PIP: $40,000
MississippiLiability: 25/50/25
MissouriLiability: 25/50/10
UM BI: 25/50
MontanaLiability: 25/50/20
NebraskaLiability: 25/50/25
UM/UIM BI: 25/50
NevadaLiability: 25/50/20
New HampshireLiability: 25/50/25
UM/UIM BI: 25/50
Medical payments: $1,000
*Insurance not required in NH
New JerseyLiability: 15/30/5
UM/UIM BI: 15/30
UMPD: $5,000
PIP: $15,000
New MexicoLiability: 25/50/10
New YorkLiability: 25/50/10
UM BI: 25/50
PIP: $50,000
North CarolinaLiability: 30/60/25
UM BI: 30/60
UMPD: $25,000
North DakotaLiability: 25/50/25
UM/UIM BI: 25/50
PIP: $30,000
OhioLiability: 25/50/25
OklahomaLiability: 25/50/25
OregonLiability: 25/50/20
UM BI: 25/50
PIP: $15,000
PennsylvaniaLiability: 15/30/5
First party benefits (PIP): $5,000
Rhode IslandLiability: 25/50/25
South CarolinaLiability: 25/50/25
UM BI: 25/50
UMPD: $25,000
South DakotaLiability: 25/50/25
UM/UIM BI: 25/50
TennesseeLiability: 25/50/15
TexasLiability: 30/60/25
UtahLiability: 25/65/15
PIP: $3,000
VermontLiability: 25/50/10
UM/UIM BI: 50/100
UMPD: $10,000
VirginiaLiability: 25/50/20
UM/UIM BI: 25/50
UMPD: $20,000
WashingtonLiability: 25/50/10
West VirginiaLiability: 25/50/25
UM BI: 25/50
UMPD: $25,000
WisconsinLiability: 25/50/10
UM BI: 25/50
WyomingLiability: 25/50/20
GuideBI liability: Bodily injury liability
PIP: Personal injury protection
UM: Uninsured motorist coverage
UIM: Underinsured motorist coverage
UM BI: Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage
UMPD: Uninsured motorist property damage coverage
PPI: Property protection insurance (MI)

What If I Don’t Have an International Driving Permit?

Some foreigners in the United States may not have an international driving permit (IDP). You may have never received a driving license in your home country. Or, you might have a valid license from your home country – but no international driving permit.

Generally, it’s easy to obtain an IDP by contacting your home country’s car registration organization. Or, talk to a travel services provider in the United States – like AAA or any travel agent. Many of these organizations make it easy to obtain an IDP. In fact, you might be able to obtain an IDP in minutes.

If you don’t have a license or an IDP, however, then you need to take a different approach. You need to obtain a driver’s license in the United States.

To get a driver’s license in the United States, you must contact the DMV in the state where you currently reside. If you’re going to school in California, for example, then you would contact your local DMV office.

Some states have a graduated driver’s license (GDL) program. You may need to take a written test and a driving test to obtain your license. If you don’t have much experience driving, then you may want to take a driver training course.

Taking a driving test in America may seem intimidating. However, American driving tests are among the easiest in the world. One 2016 report compared driving test difficulty around the world and ranked the United States as one of the easiest driving tests. The United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, and Denmark all had significantly harder driving tests than the United States, while only Mexico had an easier driving test.

Car Insurance for Short-Term vs Long-Term Visitors

Are you visiting the United States short-term or long-term? Depending on your duration, you could have vastly different car insurance needs.

If you’re a tourist in the United States who plans to rent a car, for example, then you should not need to buy extra insurance. Your home country’s car insurance should cover your trip. Or, your rental car agency may include insurance (or charge an extra fee) if your home country’s insurance does not cover you.

Or, if you use credit cards, you might automatically have car insurance on any rental cars. Many credit cards come with rental car coverage.

If you are visiting friends or family in the United States and plan to borrow a vehicle, then you might be covered by insurance already. As long as your friend’s vehicle is insured and you have permission to drive, that person’s car insurance will extend to cover you. Your home country car insurance may even act as secondary insurance in the event of an accident.

As a long-term visitor or immigrant to the United States, you might want to get car insurance from an American company. Your home country’s car insurance (or your home country’s travel insurance) may only cover trips up to 90 days, for example. An American car insurance company could provide a plan to cover you for the duration of your stay in the United States.

Discounts for International Drivers in the United States

No major car insurance company in the United States offers a discount just for foreigners. Non-US citizens can pay cheap rates for car insurance, although it’s rare for a company to offer a specific discount for international drivers.

However, international drivers in the United States may qualify for other discounts, including:

Good Grade Discounts: Thousands of international students attend school in the United States. If you have an average grade of B+ or higher, you may qualify for a good grade discount – even as an international student. This discount ranges from 5% to 15% and is available to most high school or college students under 25 years of age.

Bundling Discounts: Do you need multiple types of insurance? If you’re buying homeowners, renters, car, or life insurance, then you could bundle multiple policies to save money. Bundling policies with the same company could save 30% on your overall cost of insurance.

Defensive Driving Course Discount: Most insurers give drivers a discount for completing a defensive driving course. This discount is particularly popular among younger drivers, although some insurers offer the discount to drivers of any age. A growing number of insurers also offer defensive driving course discounts to older drivers, allowing you to save 15% on car insurance by taking a defensive driving course after age 55.

Safe Driving Discount: Do you have 5 or more years of safe driving history? You may qualify for a safe driving discount – even if your driving history is entirely outside the United States. Some American insurance companies have international offices to verify this information. Others contact your previous insurance company or driver registration office. If you have a clean driving record, you can qualify for cheap car insurance as a foreign driver in the United States.

Final Word – Getting Cheap Car Insurance for Non-US Citizens

Most insurance companies in the United States sell car insurance to non-US citizens with a valid international driving permit (IDP). In fact, buying car insurance as a non-US citizen should be easy: just compare quotes online, pick the company and price you like, then complete the application.

By comparing quotes and taking advantage of discounts, you can pay the cheapest possible rates for car insurance as a foreigner in the United States.

James Shaffer
James Shaffer James Shaffer is a writer for and a well-seasoned auto insurance industry veteran. He has a deep knowledge of insurance rules and regulations and is passionate about helping drivers save money on auto insurance. He is responsible for researching and writing about anything auto insurance-related. He holds a bachelor's degree from Bentley University and his work has been quoted by NBC News, CNN, and The Washington Post.
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