Car insurance for International Drivers
If you’ve recently moved to the U.S. or are considering moving, you’re very likely to consider your driving options. Of course, driving to places isn’t the most difficult but getting proper insurance is.
So, we’re going to look at auto insurance foreign drivers, so you get off to the right start.
Auto Insurance for Foreign Drivers: The Basics
Car insurance is a legal requirement for qualified drivers in the U.S., even if you’re not a resident. That means you’ll have to carefully understand your insurance regardless of whether you’re a short-term or long-term visitor.
Short-term visitors usually rent vehicles, so you can get rental car coverage from the rental company itself. For long-term visitors or permanent movers who own their own vehicles need to buy car insurance from a U.S. insurance company. Longer stays or permanent stays will require a valid U.S. license as well.
Driver’s Licenses and Car Insurance
Before you start driving in the U.S., a driver’s license and, in most states, car insurance is a must. The rules will vary depending on the state you reside in. You can visit the DMV to identify what you will require to get a license—generally a social security number.
If you don’t have a social security number, you can check other states that may be able to help. Check your state’s regulations and information to see if you’re eligible.
Here are some essential documents you may require to apply for a driver’s license:
- Visa and Valid Passport
- Form I-94
- Form I-20 (for F or M Students) or Form DS-2019 (fora J Exchange Visitor)
- Employment Authorization Document (EAD) Card
- Form I-797
- Social Security Number
- Proof of Legal Residence
Things to Consider for International Student Drivers
You need to get a driver’s license first and foremost. The application can be a tedious process, more so for an international student. Make sure you consider these variables:
Not all non-immigrant visas allow foreign nationals to obtain a driver’s license in the U.S. These include F, M and J visas. After you get your license,
- Contact Your Designated School Official (DSO):
Your DSO should take you through the license application procedure of your state. They will help you through the process, making sure your application process runs well.
- Consider the Timeline:
Your Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record needs to be active for you to apply for a license. It’s best to wait at least two days after your SEVIC record becomes active and at least 10 days after entering the United States before starting the process.
- Verify Your Data:
Accurate information is VITAL! Make sure your information matches across all documents. Any discrepancies could mean that you won’t get a driver’s license.
Car Insurance: Where You Should Start
Even if you are an experienced driver in another country, without a driving a history in the U.S., you’re considered a “new driver.” Without good insurance coverage, you’re basically welcoming expenses.
Out-of-pocket payments in the U.S. are not kind to your wallet. Consider what coverage you need and where you can get it from. An insurance company might charge you a bit extra at the beginning but it’s a good investment.
Auto Insurance for International Students
Similar to regular foreign drivers, foreign or international students can find insurance companies that provide coverage. Most insurers cover foreign drivers, including students. There will be several options to choose from, but some companies might be more experienced working with international drivers. Big names in the industry, like Progressive and State Farm work with international drivers and can be a good fit.
The insurance process and requirements may be a bit stricter but there still are various options. You can get car insurance from most insurance companies easily, but some insurers may require you to have at least three years of driving experience in the U.S. before they provide coverage.
Your DSO can assist you during this process. They can help you acquire a list of companies that don’t have such requirements.
International students will need to buy the International Auto Insurance Policy. It is more expensive than the ones afforded to citizens because insurance companies generally regard international students or foreign nationals as a higher risk. Since you’re more likely to have limited to no driving history in the U.S., they may classify you as a higher risk.
The Required Paperwork for Car Insurance
A valid driver’s license is, of course, a MUST! You’ll need to prove that you have a valid license in your home country. It will then be changed into an International Driver’s Permit.
International Driver’s Permit (IDP):
An IDP isn’t a valid driver’s license but serves as a translation for your foreign license that must accompany your native driver’s license.
Those over 18 and holding a valid license can apply for an international driver’s permit. The process may vary depending on your home country. Remember, you can’t apply for an IDP in the U.S.! It must be done BEFORE arriving in the U.S. and must be issued by the same country from which your license is issued. You can convert your native driver’s license into an IDP at the American Automobile Association (AAA) or the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA).
Your driving record from your home country will highlight any outstanding tickets, records of DUI or any other issues. The driving record will impact your insurance rates and policy, helping insurers determine how big a risk you are.
States Where Undocumented Citizens Can Get a License
- New Mexico
How to Choose the Best Car Insurance Company?
There are a few things you should consider when purchasing auto insurance.
- Type of Coverage:
Consider the state’s minimum requirements. Some states require you have auto insurance, and the minimum coverage may suffice. But check other coverage types and see what you need.
- Look for Discounts:
Most insurance companies offer discounts. Keep an eye out for any deals that can help save money. There are multiple discount types, make sure you go over the details.
- Read Customer Reviews:
A company’s customer reviews says a lot about it. While many insurers publish customer reviews on their official website, you should also visit third-party sites. These reviews will help you determine the pros and cons of each insurer.
- Request Personal Prices:
Several insurers offer personalized quotes. We recommend you to request and compare quotes from several different insurance companies. Also, stay on top of the insurance cost when you review your policy to make sure you have up-to-date offers.
The Consequences of Driving Without Insurance
Worst case—there’s an accident, you’re at fault and now you have to pay out-of-pocket. You could get stopped by the police for any reason and may need to pay fines ranging from $50 to several thousand for driving without insurance. If you’re caught multiple times, your license and registration may be suspended or revoked.
There’s a lot to learn when it comes to insurance in the U.S. You don’t have to study everything in detail. Reaching out to an insurance agent can help you learn about it. There are plenty of agents who are ready to lend a hand. You can sign up on Agency Height itself to get in touch with a trusted insurance agent and start learning about insurance.
- Car insurance for International Drivers
- Auto Insurance for Foreign Drivers: The Basics
- Driver’s Licenses and Car Insurance
- Things to Consider for International Student Drivers
- Car Insurance: Where You Should Start
- Auto Insurance for International Students
- The Required Paperwork for Car Insurance
- States Where Undocumented Citizens Can Get a License
- How to Choose the Best Car Insurance Company?
- The Consequences of Driving Without Insurance
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