Best car insurance for foreign drivers

Foreign drivers who need car insurance in the United States can get coverage through multiple insurance companies, including Progressive, Bristol West, and GEICO.

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By 

Rachael Brennan

Rachael Brennan

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Rachael Brennan is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. Her work has also been featured in MoneyGeek, Clearsurance, Adweek, Boston Globe, The Ladders, and AutoInsurance.com.

Published March 3, 2022 | 5 min read

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Getting car insurance can be a little tricky for non-residents living in the United States. Because car insurance is regulated at the state level, different companies may or may not offer coverage to drivers with a foreign license depending on where you are in the country.

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That said, plenty of people need car insurance after coming to the U.S., so most of the biggest names in the insurance industry will offer policies to help foreign drivers get the insurance they need. 

Key takeaways

  • Progressive, Bristol West, and GEICO are some of the insurance companies that offer insurance for drivers with a foreign license.

  • Foreign drivers who are temporarily renting a car in the U.S. can get insurance directly through the rental agency.

  • Foreign drivers who are staying in the U.S. long term will need their driver’s license and their International Driving Permit to buy and insure a car.

  • Car insurance is available to undocumented immigrants in 16 states and Washington D.C.

Best car insurance companies for foreign drivers

According to our research, Progressive, Bristol West, and GEICO all offer car insurance for drivers with a foreign license. 

Insurance companyCost of minimum coverageCost of full coverage (50/100)Cost of full coverage (100/300)
GEICO$402$1,179$1,261
Progressive$737$1,814$1,967
Bristol West$1,063$2,759$3,008

Most major insurance companies and many smaller, local companies will offer coverage for foreign drivers, but coverage availability may vary from one state to the next. 

If you have a foreign driver’s license and not a U.S. one, you can contact insurance companies directly for a quote or you can work with Policygenius to get quotes from multiple companies.

Car insurance for short-term foreign visitors

If you are only visiting the U.S. for a week or two, the odds are good you are renting a car. The best way to get temporary car insurance for foreign drivers in this scenario is to purchase insurance through the rental car company, which is probably used to dealing with drivers who don’t have a U.S. driver’s license.

If you are staying in the U.S. for a few weeks and driving someone else’s car, like a friend or relative, the best thing to do is have them contact their car insurance company and ask if you can be covered by their policy. Their insurance company might allow it as a courtesy, or they may ask that you be added to the policy while you are in the country. 

Their insurance company may also deny coverage to drivers with a foreign or international license, so it is important for your friend to check with their insurance company to make sure you are covered if you borrow their car. If not, they — or you — could wind up on the hook for thousands of dollars if you get into an accident that’s not covered by their insurance.

Car insurance for long-term international visitors

If you are living in the U.S. for several months or more, you might decide it makes more sense to buy a car of your own. If you do decide to buy a car, you will likely need your driver’s license from your country of origin and an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive legally in the United States.

You must have insurance for a new car before you can drive it off the lot, so the best way to get insurance is to buy a policy online right before you take home your car. You can even do it while you are at the dealership. Make sure you have your driver’s license, your IDP, and your vehicle information on hand so you can get a policy put in place before get the keys to your new ride.

Depending on how long you will be in the country, you may be required to get a valid driver’s license in your state. For example, tourists are allowed to drive with an IDP for up to a year in California, but if you are moving to California you have 10 days from the time you declare your residency to get a California driver’s license [1] .

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What is an International Driving Permit?

An IDP is a document you get before you leave your country that translates your driver’s license information into 10 different languages. It doesn’t replace your license, but it accompanies your license so you can legally drive while traveling. There are 150 countries around the world that allow drivers to use an IDP while traveling abroad, including Argentina, Israel, and South Korea.

Is there car insurance for undocumented immigrants in the U.S.?

Yes, in some states. You usually need to have a valid driver’s license to get car insurance, so states that allow undocumented immigrants to get a driver’s license are also states where it’s possible to get car insurance.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, these are the states that allow undocumented immigrants to get a driver’s license [2] :

What are the car insurance requirements in the U.S.?

Car insurance requirements are set by the state, so the amount of insurance you’ll need depends on where you are in the country. (State requirements are often stylized with slashes, like 25/50/25, which would mean drivers in that state are required to have limits of $25,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per person, $50,000 per accident, and $25,000 in property damage liability coverage).

StateRequired levels of coverageAverage annual cost for minimum coverage
Alabama25/50/25$611
Alaska50/100/25$433
Arizona25/50/15$640
Arkansas25/50/25$524
California15/30/5$601
Colorado25/50/15$544
Connecticut25/50/25, UM 25/50$949
Delaware25/50/10, PIP 15/30$988
District of Columbia2550/10, UM25/50/5$678
FloridaPIP 10, PD 10$1,253
Georgia25/50/25$817
Hawaii20/40/10, PIP 10$424
Idaho25/50/15$400
Illinois25/50/20, UM 25/50$558
Indiana25/50/25, UM 25/50$453
Iowa20/40/15$317
Kansas25/50/25, PIP 4.5, UM 25/50$493
Kentucky25/50/10, PIP 10, UM 25/50$931
Louisiana15/30/25$993
Maine50/100/25, UM50/100, MedPay 2$448
Maryland30/60/15, UM 30/60/15$898
Massachusetts20/40/5, PIP 8, UM 20/40$612
Michigan*50/100/10, PIP$888
Minnesota30/60/10, PIP 20/20, UM 25/50$547
Mississippi25/50/25$543
Missouri25/50/10, UM 25/50$564
Montana25/50/10$497
Nebraska25/50/25, UM 25/50$424
Nevada25/50/20, UM 25/50$958
New Hampshire**25/50/25, PIP 1$462
New Jersey15/30/5, PIP 15/250$1,154
New Mexico25/50/10$459
New York25/50/10, PIP 50, UM 25/50$974
North Carolina30/60/25, UM 60$423
North Dakota25/50/25, PIP 30, UM 25/50$406
Ohio25/50/25$386
Oklahoma25/50/25$496
Oregon25/50/20, PIP 15, UM 25/50$769
Pennsylvania15/30/5, PIP 5$501
Rhode Island25/50/25, UM 25/50$868
South Carolina25/50/25, UM 25/50$779
South Dakota25/50/25, UM 25/50$339
Tennessee25/50/15$460
Texas30/60/25$643
Utah25/65/15, PIP 3$672
Vermont25/50/10, UM 50/100/10$380
Virginia*** 25/50/20, UM 25/50$570
Washington25/50/10$619
West Virginia25/50/25, UM 25/50$626
Wisconsin25/50/10, UM 25/50$348
Wyoming25/50/20$321

* PIP levels are determined based on your health insurance

** Car insurance is optional in New Hampshire

*** Car insurance is optional in Virginia after you pay a fee of $500

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Frequently asked questions

Does your car insurance cover you abroad?

No, your U.S. car insurance likely doesn’t cover you abroad, but there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, reciprocal laws between the U.S. and Canada typically mean that your car insurance will cover you if you file a claim across the border, but the same isn’t true in Mexico. Contact your insurance company to find out whether or not your coverage applies in specific circumstances.

How much does it cost to insure a car in America?

The average car insurance rate for a 30-45-year-old driver in America is $1,721 for full coverage with bodily injury liability limits of $50,000/$100,000. However, this rate will vary significantly based on a number of factors, including your age, the type of car you drive, your driving history, and how much coverage you choose. The best way to get an accurate insurance rate is to compare quotes from multiple companies.

How does international car insurance work?

Some insurance companies offer a type of policy that applies internationally. For example, GEICO has an international insurance product called GEICO GmbH that offers liability, comprehensive, and collision coverage in Mexico and Europe. It also provides marine transit insurance to cover your vehicle if it’s being shipped overseas.

Methodology

Policygenius has analyzed car insurance rates provided by Quadrant Information Services for every ZIP code in all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C. 

For full coverage policies, the following coverage limits were used:

  • Bodily injury liability: 50/100

  • Property damage liability: $50,000

  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist: 50/100

  • Comprehensive: $500 deductible

  • Collision: $500 deductible

In some cases, additional coverages were added where required by the state or insurer.

Rates for overall average rate, rates by ZIP code, and cheapest companies determined using averages for single drivers age 30, 35, and 45. Our sample vehicle was a 2017 Toyota Camry LE driven 10,000 miles per year.

Rates for driving violations and “poor” credit were determined using average rates for a single male 30-year-old driver with a credit score under 578.

Some carriers may be represented by affiliates or subsidiaries. Rates provided are a sample of insurance costs. Your actual quotes may differ.