Can I use out-of-state auto insurance?

You can your car insurance out of state while traveling. However, if you are moving out of state, out-of-state auto insurance coverage must be updated, otherwise, it can be cause for a claim to be denied.

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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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Written by Rachel Bodine
Insurance Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

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
Farmers CSR for 4 Years Leslie Kasperowicz

UPDATED: Jun 6, 2022

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What You Should Know

  • Most auto insurance covers drivers when they cross state lines or drive in Canada temporarily.
  • If you plan to drive in a new state for a period of more than 30 days, you should update your insurance and registration.
  • Your insurance coverage does not cover you to drive in Mexico.

Each state in America has different rules about auto insurance. Auto insurance prices, requirements, and products can vary widely between states.

Understanding auto insurance can be tricky. All of these differences might leave you wondering: Can I use out-of-state auto 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 and changing your auto insurance won’t be possible or convenient for a while?

Today, we’re explaining everything you need to know about using out-of-state auto insurance. Before we jump into the details, take a second to see how your current insurance rates compare against quotes from our FREE quote generator.

If you need to update your insurance, why not get the best rate?

Does out-of-state auto insurance cover me when I’m traveling out of state?

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 U.S. state.

If you’re driving to Mexico, tourist insurance is usually required. Some car insurance policies automatically extend to Mexico, but you shouldn’t automatically assume yours does as well. You may need to acquire temporary tourist insurance.

All of the above is based on the idea that you’re traveling, visiting, or on a road trip through another state or province for a limited period of time. The rules are different if you’re moving to a new state permanently or even for an extended period of time.

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What about when I’m 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 auto 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.

When does out-of-state auto insurance not cover me out of state?

Each state has a grace period for allowing you to drive within the state with out-of-state insurance. Most states limit this period to 30 days, although some may allow you a 60-day period.

These rules are to accommodate people who are moving, students that may travel in and out of the state for longer periods of time, or vacationers. However, don’t take it for granted that you will have 30 days to change your insurance and registration.

Visit the DMV in your state to ensure your insurance and registration are meeting requirements.

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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 out-of-state auto insurance coverage 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.

Before you drive to another state, review this chart which outlines the minimum insurance liability limits and insurance requirements by state.

Most Auto Insurance Companies Require You to Buy Insurance from Your State of Residence

There’s one final thing to note about out-of-state auto insurance. Let’s say you live close to the border of a state. You find a cheaper auto 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.

What if I split my time between states?

What happens if you spend six months in Florida for the winter months and then come back north to New York? Auto insurance for snowbirds can be somewhat complicated.

Yes, some states will allow you to register a vehicle with proof of insurance card from a different state. However, you might encounter problems if you ever go to make a claim.

Instead, it is best to discuss your particular situation with your car insurance company.

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Valid Exceptions For Carrying Out-of-State Auto Insurance

There are some exceptions that will allow for a driver to maintain out-of-state insurance.

Generally, this is limited to students, traveling professionals, military personnel, and others who live in one state but work or study in another.

Most insurance companies have special rules for students, military personnel, and traveling professionals that allow you to insure your vehicle in your state of residence even if you’re effectively living in a different state.

Out-of-State Auto Insurance: The Bottom Line

Ultimately, every state in America has different rules about auto insurance. Some states—like New Hampshire—don’t even require you to have car insurance.

Most auto insurance policies in the United States will cover you when driving in all 50 states (and Canada). Your auto 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.

So, if you are on the move, or realize that you have never updated your insurance, then now is the right time to get a quote.

So instead of wondering: can I use out-of-state auto insurance, click on our free quote tool to get a customized rate right now and see how much you can save and avoid having to rely upon out-of-state car insurance.

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