Getting Car Insurance as an Illegal or Undocumented Immigrant
Last Updated on July 29, 2020
Many undocumented immigrants live normal lives in the United States. That’s why many undocumented immigrants need car insurance.
Historically, it’s been tough for undocumented immigrants to get car insurance. However, a growing number of states now allow undocumented or illegal immigrants to buy car insurance in certain situations.
Depending on your situation, you may or may not be able to get car insurance as an undocumented immigrant. Today, we’re explaining how illegal immigrant car insurance works.
Apply for a Driver’s License
You can only buy car insurance if you have a valid driver’s license. Your insurer needs to see your driver’s license before selling you car insurance.
The District of Columbia and 12 states now allow residents to apply for licenses regardless of immigration status. In these states, an undocumented or illegal immigrant can receive a driver’s license just as anyone else would – by applying at your local DMV.
The 12 states that allow residents to apply for licenses regardless of immigration status include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Vermont, and Washington.
In other states, you cannot apply for a license if you are an undocumented or illegal immigrant. In this case, you can try to apply for car insurance with a driver’s license from your home country. Alternatively, some drivers have an international driving permit (IDP). A growing number of insurers now accept IDPs. As an illegal immigrant, however, you generally cannot apply for a driver’s license (unless you live in one of the 12 states above).
Apply for DACA to Get Car Insurance
America’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has made it easier for undocumented immigrants to get car insurance (among other benefits). DACA protects immigrants from deportation if they arrived in the United States illegally as children (and meet other requirements).
If you are a member of DACA, or if you qualify for DACA, then you can apply for a driver’s license in every state. Nebraska and Arizona attempted to ban DACA members from receiving driver’s licenses, although both states have overturned these bans after federal challenges.
If you are not a member of DACA, and if your state is not one of the 12 listed above, then you cannot apply for a driver’s license.
Compare Car Insurance Quotes Online
Once you have a driver’s license, shopping for car insurance is easy. In fact, you shop for car insurance just like any other driver would shop for car insurance. You compare quotes online, enter basic information about yourself, and receive customized car insurance quotes.
Your insurer sees you as a licensed driver. Your insurer can verify your information with the DMV, including your driving record, driving history, age, gender, and other information.
Unfortunately, you might have limited American driving history. Your insurer could treat you like a new, inexperienced driver. You might have driven illegally without insurance for years without an accident – but without a verified, insured driving history, your insurer will treat you like an inexperienced driver, which means higher insurance rates.
The more quotes you compare online, the easier it is to find cheap car insurance as an undocumented or illegal immigrant. You can find plenty of low-cost car insurance companies serving your area. If you have a verified safe driving history, or if you qualify for other discounts, then you could pay lower rates than the average American driver.
How Does Car Insurance Work for Undocumented Immigrants?
Once you have a driver’s license, you can buy ordinary car insurance just like any American driver. At this point, your car insurance works like any car insurance policy. You pay for coverage, and your insurer agrees to pay for damage in certain situations. You can make a claim for damage to your own vehicle. Your insurance protects you against liability if you cause an accident.
Illegal immigrant car insurance consists of:
Bodily Injury Liability Coverage: This coverage is mandatory in most states and covers damage you cause to other people when driving. It covers another driver’s medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses after an accident, for example.
Property Damage Liability Coverage: This coverage covers damage you cause to another person’s property while driving – including damage to their home, vehicles, and other personal property.
Collision Coverage: Collision coverage covers damage to your own vehicle when driving. If you cause an accident and damage or destroy your own vehicle, then you can make a collision coverage claim to receive full compensation up to the limits of your policy.
Comprehensive Coverage: Comprehensive coverage covers your vehicle in non-accident situations, including vandalism, theft, hailstorm damage, and similar incidents.
Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Coverage: Required in some states, uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage covers incidents involving motorists without insurance – or with too little insurance.
Car Insurance Discounts for Illegal or Undocumented Immigrants
No car insurance company in the United States offers a discount specifically for being an undocumented or illegal immigrant. However, plenty of undocumented or illegal immigrants still qualify for discounts, including:
Bundling Discounts: If you need home insurance, auto insurance, and other insurance policies, then you can bundle all policies together to save money. Bundling can save you up to 30% on your overall cost of insurance.
Safe Driving Discounts: For every year you go without an accident or incident, you should qualify for a small safe driving discount. If you have gone 5 or more years without a claim, then this discount can be significant.
Low-Income Discounts: Some states offer discounts to low-income families. California’s Low Cost Auto Insurance Program, for example, helps low-income drivers in California meet minimum liability insurance requirements at an affordable price ($200 to $400 per year, depending on your location).
The Dangers of Uninsured Driving
Experts estimate that 10.5 to 12 million undocumented immigrants live in the United States, or approximately 3.5% of the population.
That means millions of American drivers struggle to get car insurance. If you don’t qualify for DACA, and if you don’t live in one of the 12 states with illegal immigrant licensing systems, then your only option is to drive uninsured.
States have realized that driving without insurance is a bad idea for everyone on the road, which is why a growing number of states are passing illegal immigrant licensing laws.
In New Mexico, for example, approximately 1 in 3 drivers was uninsured until the state allowed illegal immigrants to apply for a driver’s license and obtain insurance. After passing this law, the percentage of uninsured drivers in New Mexico dropped from 33% to 9%. When drivers had an option to legally obtain insurance, they took it.
Final Word – Car Insurance for Undocumented Immigrants
Getting car insurance as an undocumented or illegal immigrant sounds challenging. However, it’s easier than you think – at least in certain states. 12 states have passed laws allowing illegal immigrants to apply for a driver’s license, which means they can buy car insurance just like any American driver.
If you are a member of DACA, or if you qualify for DACA, then you can get a driver’s license in all 50 states.
If you do not qualify for DACA, and if you do not live in one of the 12 states mentioned above, then you cannot get a driver’s license or buy car insurance in the United States as an undocumented immigrant.