The United States attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. Some of them stay for a just a couple of weeks and some for a lot longer. One of the things that all visitors to the US have in common is that if they intend to drive a car here they must have insurance. With no exceptions. Short term visitors will usually either rent a car or borrow one from friends or family. In either case it is the responsibility of the renter or lender to make sure that the new drivers will be fully covered by insurance. Those staying longer term may by a car to get around in. In this case it is their responsibility to ensure that the car is fully covered.
Car Insurance for Non- US Citizens- Is it a must?
Any car on the US road system must have insurance. However, not all cars on the road are owned by Americans. The law clearly states that drivers who arrive in the US from a foreign country can drive on US roads as long as they have taken the necessary steps to ensure that their insurance has been extended to cover the United States. Every year thousands of cars enter the US, usually from either Canada or Mexico. The border patrol guards will check to make sure that they have valid insurance before entering the country. The driver must also have a valid international driving license.
What kind of insurance policy should I get?
The extent of car insurance coverage that a non- US citizen will be required to take out should depend on the type of vehicle, who owns it and its value. The law states that all vehicles must have liability only, or liability with fire, theft, willful damage, personal injury protection (PIP) as well as accident. This cover should take in private passenger vehicles, motorcycles, and light passenger vans.
If a Non US Citizen is renting a car they can be sure that the rental company will take care of every detail of the insurance as the car will have a relatively high value and will be comprehensively insured.
If a Non US Citizen is borrowing a car from a family member or friend then the value of the vehicle has to be taken into account. If the car owner only has liability insurance then it might not be necessary to take out a policy at a higher level. If the owner has fully comprehensive insurance on their vehicle then it should also be matched. A relatively low cost method of ensuring that the car is fully covered is to add the foreign guest as a temporary additional driver on the owner’s policy
If a Non US Citizen is buying a car then the value of the car will again play a part. If the car is of low value then liability only or liability with fire, theft, willful damage, personal injury protection (PIP) as well as accident will probably be sufficient. If the car is of a higher value then comprehensive insurance will be a must. Foreign visitors should take into account a few factors to keep the cost of insurance under control. Taking out short term comprehensive insurance can be an expensive business, and it may be more cost effective to take out long term insurance and cash it in at the end of the visit.
Non US Citizens who intends to drive a car during their visit should make a few inquiries on the steps involved before arriving. Knowing a local insurance broker will certainly help. An international driver’s license is a must and it will need to be applied for and issued in the visitor’s country of origin.
Contrary to many reports, visitors to the US are not required to have a local social security number (SSN) in order to apply for car insurance in America.
The Final Word On Car Insurance For Non US Residents
Buying car insurance for a Non US citizen who is visiting the country need not be a complicated matter. All that is needed is some local knowledge and a lot of common sense. Renting a car is usually the first option for most short term visitors, in which case the rental company will take care of all of the details before releasing the car. Borrowing and buying is where common sense comes into play.
The visitor must apply levels of judgment to ensure that they are fulfilling their obligation to insure a care that will be driven anywhere in the United States and keeping the costs at a reasonable level.