Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Former Farmers Insurance CSR

UPDATED: Jan 7, 2021

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What you need to know

  • Most U.S. colleges have programs to help international students buy student auto insurance
  • The minimum amount of time you can obtain an international driver’s license is for one year
  • Nearly all United Nations countries recognize the validity of an international driver’s license

International students who want to drive an automobile while attending a college or university in the United States will have to purchase an International Auto Insurance policy.

Finding the best auto insurance for international students doesn’t have to be a headache. Most major insurance agencies, such as GEICO auto insurance or State Farm auto insurance, offer specific policies for international students. Understanding auto insurance in the U.S. can help students get international students auto insurance that meets their needs.

Can I get a student discount on auto insurance? If you have an international driver’s license and a student ID, you may be able to a student discount on your auto insurance. Learn more in our international student auto insurance review.

Enter your ZIP code in our FREE online tool to find affordable auto insurance for international students in the U.S. right now, and start comparing cheap auto insurance quotes for international students.

Can international students get auto insurance in the U.S.?

One of the first roadblocks that all international visitors must overcome is how to legally drive in the United States. The U.S. Federal Government has rules and regulations in place, but it ultimately comes down to where you are studying.

The majority of universities and colleges in the United States have programs to help international students who are actively seeking to buy student auto insurance.

They will assist the student in finding an insurance provider that won’t insist the student have a minimum of three years of United States driving experience before selling the student a policy.

International students can take advantage of the assistance programs offered by schools in a variety of areas. For example, an international student who might find themselves lost can ask their mentoring advisor how much international student health insurance costs in addition to any questions they have about auto insurance for international students.

Some insurance companies do count the international student’s driving experience in their native country and will offer a rate comparable to that of someone who is a United States citizen. This is important to keep in mind when comparing the best auto insurance for college students studying abroad in the US.

Also, before the student leaves their country, they should make sure their international driver’s license is up-to-date and clear of any fines or warrants. We’ll discuss this in greater detail later.

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What are the auto insurance requirements for international students?

Auto insurance requirements for international students are the same as those for any other driver in the U.S. Most states in the country have a set coverage limit that all drivers must meet (or exceed) in order to legally drive. Take a look at this table for the minimum coverage requirements in every state in the country (summarized by the Insurance Information Institute).

Minimum Liability Auto Insurance Requirements by State
StatesAuto Insurance RequirementsMinimum Auto Insurance Liability Limits
AlabamaBI & PD Liab25/50/25
AlaskaBI & PD Liab50/100/25
ArizonaBI & PD Liab15/30/10
ArkansasBI & PD Liab, PIP25/50/25
CaliforniaBI & PD Liab15/30/5
ColoradoBI & PD Liab25/50/15
ConnecticutBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/20
DelawareBI & PD Liab, PIP25/50/10
District of ColumbiaBI & PD Liab, UM25/50/10
FloridaPD Liab, PIP10/20/10
GeorgiaBI & PD Liab25/50/25
HawaiiBI & PD Liab, PIP20/40/10
IdahoBI & PD Liab25/50/15
IllinoisBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/20
IndianaBI & PD Liab25/50/25
IowaBI & PD Liab20/40/15
KansasBI & PD Liab, PIP25/50/25
KentuckyBI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM25/50/25
LouisianaBI & PD Liab15/30/25
MaineBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM, Medpay50/100/25
MarylandBI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM30/60/15
MassachusettsBI & PD Liab, PIP20/40/5
MichiganBI & PD Liab, PIP20/40/10
MinnesotaBI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM30/60/10
MississipiBI & PD Liab25/50/25
MissouriBI & PD Liab, UM25/50/25
MontanaBI & PD Liab25/50/20
NebraskaBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/25
NevadaBI & PD Liab25/50/20
New HampshireFR only25/50/25
New JerseyBI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM15/30/5
New MexicoBI & PD Liab25/50/10
New YorkBI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM25/50/10
North CarolinaBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM30/60/25
North DakotaBI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM25/50/25
OhioBI & PD Liab25/50/25
OklahomaBI & PD Liab25/50/25
OregonBI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM25/50/20
PennsylvaniaBI & PD Liab, PIP15/30/5
Rhode IslandBI & PD Liab25/50/25
South CarolinaBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/25
South DakotaBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/25
TennesseeBI & PD Liab25/50/15
TexasBI & PD Liab, PIP30/60/25
UtahBI & PD Liab, PIP25/65/15
VermontBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/10
VirginiaBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/20
WashingtonBI & PD Liab25/50/10
West VirginiaBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/25
WisconsinBI & PD Liab, UM, Medpay25/50/10
WyomingBI & PD Liab25/50/20
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To better understand the information in this table, take a look at the summarized abbreviations and acronyms here.

Minimum Liability Auto Insurance Abbreviations
AbbreviationMeaning
BIBodily Injury
PDProperty Damage Liability
PIPPersonal Injury Protection
UMUninsured Motorist
UIMUnderinsured Motorist
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The university programs and auto insurance companies that international students will work with to purchase coverage will know the minimum requirements and be able to assist them in purchasing the correct coverage.

What is the cheapest auto insurance for international students?

Both international students and American natives often wonder what the cheapest auto insurance for students is or how much the average auto insurance for a college student is.

In order to see average rates for full-time student auto insurance, take a look at the following table to see what students are paying for six months of coverage. It should be noted that the following figures also include international student auto insurance.

Average 6-Month Auto Insurance Rates for Students Aged 18-25
Student Driver AgeSix-Month Auto Insurance Rates
18$3,590
19$3,009
20$2,667
21$2,227
22$2,064
23$1,920
24$1,799
25$1,604
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These figures tell us that student driver insurance amounts to an average of $2,360 for six months of coverage. To find cheap auto insurance for international students, shopping around is key. GEICO insurance for international students won’t be the same price as that offered by State Farm.

International students vs. American students: who pays more?

The rate for a short-term policy for someone who is not an American citizen is somewhat high because the insurer does not know anything about the applicant’s prior driving record.

In the case of international students, rates will likely be higher than those for their American counterparts, though both will pay higher rates than older, more experienced drivers in the U.S.

This expensive type of policy is how insurers protect themselves from the risk of insuring someone from another country with different driving laws and regulations.

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Five Types of Auto Insurance

In addition to liability coverage (described below), there are four other basic types of insurance you can purchase, which can increase driver protection behind the wheel:

  • Liability – provides property and bodily injury coverage to other drivers in an accident in which you are at fault
  • Collision – provides coverage for you and your vehicle if you’re in an accident
  • Comprehensive – provides coverage for damages to your vehicle that occur as the result of something other than an accident (ex. vandalism, weather damage, etc.)
  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP) – covers the medical bills for you and your passengers that result from an accident
  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage – provides protection in the event that you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured driver

You have to choose what type of insurance is best for your needs.

Your specific circumstances will help determine the level of auto insurance coverage you need.

Is required or minimum auto insurance enough coverage?

As we already discussed, most states require at least a minimum amount of coverage in order to legally drive. However, those levels are exactly that: the minimum. If you find yourself in a car accident, that minimum coverage may not be enough.

Comprehensive and collision coverage are both recommended additions if you can afford the higher rates because, in the long term, it will save you money. Speak with an insurance agent (and the school’s assistance program) to help you decide on the best coverage mix for your needs and budget.

Everything You Need to Know About Insurance Rates

Insurance rates, also known as premiums, are the fees you pay an insurance company in return for the coverage included in your policy.

These rates may be paid monthly, biannually, or annually, depending on your insurer and your particular situation. Often, paying biannually or annually will mean slightly lower rates than if you pay monthly because it is a lower risk for the insurance company.

Can international students purchase a car in the U.S.?

If an international student wants to buy a car to use while attending school in the U.S., they should think about the type of car, since this will influence the amount of auto insurance they will pay.

An older car that was manufactured before the year 1995 will not need to be insured with comprehensive coverage. Liability coverage is fairly cheap and entirely sufficient for older cars, since it may be much less expensive to simply purchase another older car in the event the first one is totaled in an accident.

The option to rent a car is also available to international students. In this case, an insurance policy may already exist on a rental car, in which case students will only have to pay for rental fees.

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Can international students get a driver’s license?

In order to drive in the U.S., international students will need some form of driver’s license. In some cases, a current license in their country of origin will suffice, while in other states, an international driver’s license will be required.

International students can also apply for a U.S. driver’s license, though this requires more paperwork, time, and effort. Keep reading for the basics on obtaining a driver’s license.

Can I use my foreign license in the U.S.?

In some cases, international students may be able to drive in the U.S. strictly with the driver’s license from their native country. However, it’s a good idea to obtain an international driver’s permit because some insurance companies and some states require one for international drivers.

An international driver’s permit (IDP) and auto insurance can be purchased for varying amounts of time. In general, IDPs can be purchased from one year to five years. A three-year license costs $45 while a five-year license can be purchased for $55.

Although the minimum amount of time you can obtain an international driver’s license is for one year, one can also be purchased and validated for ten years. It is not hard to procure an international driver’s license, but you will need proper documentation, including a valid driver’s license from your native country.

Nearly all United Nations countries recognize the validity of an international driver’s license.

However, it is still better if the student keeps their regular driver’s license as another form of identification. This type of license is usually all that is necessary for a visiting student to obtain foreign auto insurance in the United States.

However, after three years of driving experience within the U.S., an international student may see their rates substantially reduced, as long as their driving record is in good standing.

What should I do before getting a U.S. driver’s license?

If international students plan to get a U.S. driver’s license, rather than relying on their existing license and/or an IDP, a few steps are necessary in order to obtain one.

First, international students will need to confirm their eligibility to obtain a U.S. driver’s license (a non-immigrant visa classified as either F, M, or J all qualify).

International students will also need to work through their college’s assistance programs (which we discussed earlier). Those programs are designed to assist students in filling out the paperwork, applying for driver’s licenses, etc.

How do I get a U.S. driver’s license?

To get a U.S. driver’s license, international students will require a number of documents, including a visa and valid passport, a social security card, proof of legal residence, and a number of other forms.

Once students have their paperwork in order, they will need to complete a few different tests. Specifically, they will need to successfully pass both a written and a driving test. They will also need to have their eyes checked to ensure they meet the vision requirements for driving (either with or without corrective lenses).

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International Students Driving in the United States

Depending on what an international student’s transportation needs are, the purchase of an automobile may not be necessary, especially if they are attending a university in a larger, metropolitan area.

If the student is going to be living on-campus in a dorm or apartment, they can probably walk or ride a bike to classes. Public transportation may also be a viable option. Places like New York, Washington, and Boston have excellent transportation systems in the form of buses and subways.

However, if a student plans on living off-campus, then purchasing a car may be a better choice.

When choosing to use public transportation, students should consider purchasing a prepaid bus or subway pass to save the trouble of figuring out exact change.

Other bits of helpful advice for driving in the United States include:

  • Follow posted speed limits – driving over the speed limit and being caught can mean an expensive traffic ticket and possibly an increase in auto insurance rates
  • Carry appropriate documentation at all times – students should always have their driver’s license with them and they should keep both their vehicle registration and proof of auto insurance in their car
  • Follow all local driving laws – the Department of Motor Vehicles in each state issues current driving regulations; contact the local Bureau of Motor Vehicles for more information regarding driving rules in that state
  • Do not drink and drive – this is dangerous both for the driver and anyone else on the road, and could result in a suspended driver’s license and even jail time; a 0.08 percent blood alcohol level is legally considered intoxicated in most states
  • Carry jumper cables – this is important in case the car does not start; other useful items include a flashlight, first-aid kit, spare tire, a warm blanket, and maps

International students should have little to no problem obtaining auto insurance in the United States, but should always check with their university for help with this and any other difficulties they may encounter while studying abroad.

How can international students save money on auto insurance?

There are ways to lower rates for international students, including shopping around and qualifying for discounts. Keep reading for more.

Can international students get auto insurance discounts?

International students may qualify for discounts offered through their insurance provider. There are a number of discounts offered by insurance providers, some of which are specific to students. However, other discounts may also be available. Take a look at this table to see the discounts offered by some of the major insurance companies in the U.S.

Auto Insurance Discounts Available by Company
Discounts21st Century Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedAAA Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedAllstate Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedAmerican Family Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedAmeriprise Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedAmica Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedCountry Financial Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedEsurance Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedFarmers Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedGEICO Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedLiberty Mutual Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedMetLife Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedNationwide Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedProgressive Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedSafe Auto Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedSafeco Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedState Farm Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedThe General Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedThe Hanover Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedThe Hartford Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedTravelers Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedUSAA Auto Insurance Discounts Offered
Adaptive Cruise ControlNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesYesYesYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Adaptive HeadlightsNoNoNoNoNoYesYesNoYesNoYesYesYesYesNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNo
Anti-lock BrakesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Anti-TheftYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Daytime Running LightsYesYesYesYesYesNoYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesNoNoNoYesYesYesYes
Electronic Stability ControlNoNoYesYesNoYesYesNoYesNoYesYesYesYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Utility VehicleNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoYesYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNo
Vehicle RecoveryYesYesYesYesYesYesNoYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
VIN EtchingNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesYesNoYesYesYesYesYesYesNoNoNoNoYesYes
Lane Departure WarningNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesYesYesYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Newer VehicleYesYesYesNoNoNoYesYesYesYesNoYesYesYesYesYesYesNoNoYesYesYes
Green VehicleYesNoYesNoNoNoNoYesYesNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoYesYes
Forward Collision WarningNoNoNoNoNoYesYesNoNoNoYesYesYesYesNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNo
Claim FreeYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Continuous CoverageYesYesYesYesNoYesYesYesYesYesNoNoNoYesYesYesNoNoYesYesYesNo
Defensive DriverYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Distant StudentNoYesYesYesYesYesNoNoYesYesNoNoYesYesNoYesYesYesYesYesYes
Driver's EdYesYesYesYesNoYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Driving Device/AppNoYesYesYesNoNoNoYesYesYesYesYesYesNoYesYesNoNoYesYesYes
Early SigningYesNoYesYesNoNoYesYesYesYesNoYesYesYesNoYesNoNoNoYesYesYes
Emergency DeploymentNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Engaged CoupleNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Family LegacyNoNoNoYesNoYesNoNoNoYesNoYesNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYes
Family PlanNoNoNoYesNoNoYesNoYesNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNo
Farm VehicleNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoYesYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNo
Fast 5NoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Federal EmployeeNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesYesYesYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Full PaymentNoYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesNoNoYesYesYesYesYesYesYesNo
Further EducationNoNoNoNoYesNoYesYesNoYesYesNoYesNoNoYesNoNoYesNoYesNo
Garaging/StoringNoNoNoNoYesYesNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesYesYes
Good CreditNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesYesYesYesNoNoNoNoNo
Good StudentYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
HomeownerYesYesNoNoNoYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesNo
Life InsuranceNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Low MileageNoYesYesYesNoYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
LoyaltyNoNoNoYesYesYesYesNoNoYesNoYesYesYesNoYesNoYesNoYesNoYes
MarriedNoYesNoNoNoYesYesYesNoNoYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesNoYesNoYes
Membership/GroupNoYesNoNoYesNoNoYesNoYesYesYesYesNoNoYesNoNoYesYesYesNo
MilitaryNoNoYesNoNoNoNoYesYesYesYesYesNoNoYesYesYesYesNoNoNoYes
Military GaragingNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYes
Multiple DriversNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNo
Multiple PoliciesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesNoYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Multiple VehiclesYesYesNoYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
New AddressNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
New Customer/New PlanNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesYesNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
New GraduateNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Newly LicensedNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
NewlywedsNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Non-Smoker/Non-DrinkerYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Occasional OperatorNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYes
OccupationNoNoYesNoNoNoYesYesYesYesYesYesYesNoNoYesNoNoYesYesYesNo
On Time PaymentsNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoYesYesNo
Online ShopperNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Paperless DocumentsNoNoYesYesNoYesNoNoYesNoNoYesYesYesNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNo
Paperless/Auto BillingNoNoYesYesNoYesNoYesYesNoYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Passive RestraintYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Recent RetireesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNo
RenterNoNoNoNoNoYesNoYesNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Roadside AssistanceNoNoNoNoYesNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Safe DriverYesYesYesYesYesYesNoYesYesYesNoYesYesYesYesYesYesYesNoYesYesYes
Seat Belt UseNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Senior DriverYesNoYesNoNoNoNoYesYesNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoYesYesYesNoYes
Stable ResidenceNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesYesYesNoNoNoYesNoNo
Students & AlumniNoNoNoYesNoNoNoYesNoYesYesYesYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Switching ProviderYesNoNoYesNoYesNoYesYesYesYesNoYesYesNoNoYesYesNoNoNo
VolunteerNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Young DriverYesNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoYesNoNoYesNoYesNoNoNoNoNoYes
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International students should speak with their insurance agent to find out which discounts they may be able to get.

Should international students shop around?

Shopping around for insurance is always a good idea. Comparing quotes can save money on rates. We recommend obtaining at least three quotes from different insurance companies that offer coverage for international students in order to make sure rates are fair and affordable.

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The Bottom Line for Auto Insurance for International Students

International students will need auto insurance that meets at least the minimum requirements set by the state in which they live if they plan to drive. Colleges in the U.S. often have programs and resources to assist you if you need to buy auto insurance for international students.

International students may also need an IDP to legally drive in the U.S., in which case they will need to work through an agency or company in their own country, as the U.S. does not issue IDPs for use in the country.

Before you go, take a moment to enter your ZIP code and compare auto insurance quotes for international students. Find the best auto insurance rates for international students through comparison shopping.