Each state in America has different rules about car insurance. Car insurance prices, requirements, and products can vary widely between states.
All of these differences might leave you wondering: can I use out of state car insurance? Are you allowed to get car insurance from a different state? If you’re going on a road trip to a different state, will your out-of-state car insurance apply? What happens if you’re moving to a new state?
Today, we’re explaining everything you need to know about using out of state car insurance.
American Car Insurance Policies Typically Cover You in All 50 States and Canada
All major car insurance companies in the United States will allow you to drive anywhere in the United States and Canada while maintaining insurance coverage. Whether you’re driving in Manitoba or Maine, Saskatchewan or South Dakota, Alberta or Arkansas, you’re going to be covered when driving in any Canadian province or US state.
If you’re driving to Mexico, then your car insurance policy might not cover you. Some car insurance policies automatically extend to Mexico, but don’t assume yours does as well.
All of the above is based on the idea that you’re traveling, visiting, or on a road trip through another state or province. The rules are different if you’re permanently moving to a new state.
What About When Permanently Moving to a New State?
If you are permanently moving to a new state, then rules are different for you. Yes, your existing car insurance company will cover you when visiting a new state or traveling to a new state. However, your car insurance might not cover you if you’re permanently moving to a new state.
If you are moving to a new state, then you’ll need to purchase a new car insurance policy. If you’re with a nationwide provider, then moving to a new state is seamless: just call your insurance company and ask about moving to a new state. If you’re with a smaller regional provider, or if you’re unhappy with your coverage, then this is a good time to compare car insurance quotes and pick a new provider for your new state.
What About Out-of-State Car Accidents?
What happens if you get into a car accident while driving outside of your home state? How does car insurance work in this situation?
In this situation, your claim will be processed the same as it is in your home state. You will contact your car insurance provider to begin the claims process. If you’re driving in an at-fault state (most states are at-fault states), then investigators will work to determine who is at-fault for the collision, and the person at-fault will have to pay.
What Happens When Different States Have Different Coverage Requirements?
It’s important to note that different states have different liability limits. You might only require, say, $30,000 of property damage liability insurance per collision in your home state.
What happens if you cause an accident while driving in a different state with different liability limits? Assuming you have basic liability car insurance (the bare minimum), your limits can amend to whatever state you’re traveling in.
Your car insurance policy will rise to meet the minimum limits of the state you’re currently in – even if that state’s limits are significantly higher than your home state’s limits.
Some states also have additional rules about car insurance coverage. Some states require you to purchase things like personal injury protection (PIP) coverage in addition to ordinary liability requirements. If you’re driving in a state with special insurance requirements like this, then your ordinary car insurance policy will temporarily extend to offer you that coverage.
Most Car Insurance Companies Require You to Buy Insurance from Your State of Residence
There’s one final thing to note about out-of-state car insurance. Let’s say you live close to the border of a state. You find a cheaper car insurance policy in your neighboring state because your neighboring state has different car insurance requirements.
Can you buy out-of-state car insurance in order to be covered in your current state?
The answer to this question is no.
Most car insurance companies require you to buy car insurance in your state of residence – the state where you and your vehicle are located.
Yes, some states will allow you to register a vehicle with proof of insurance in a different state. However, you might encounter problems if you ever go to make a claim.
This rule applies to students, traveling professionals, military personnel, and others who live in one state. Most insurance companies have special rules for students, military personnel, and traveling professionals that allows you to insure your vehicle in your state of residence even if you’re effectively living in a different state – like during your current posting or for the school year.
Ultimately, every state in America has different rules about car insurance. Some states – like New Hampshire – don’t even require you to have car insurance. Most car insurance policies in the United States will cover you when driving in all 50 states (and Canada). Your car insurance will typically rise to meet the minimum coverage requirements of each state, if necessary.
You cannot, however, buy insurance from out-of-state while residing in a different state. In most cases, you need to buy car insurance in your state of residence.