Throughout the United States, it’s illegal to drive a vehicle without an active, valid driver’s license and auto insurance policy. 

Additionally, each state has different laws regarding insurance coverage limits, so getting behind the wheel as an international student in the U.S. can seem overwhelming.

As an international student, your auto insurance costs will be higher than those of an American citizen because you don’t have an American driving record or credit score. These are important to auto insurance companies because they determine your risk profile and whether or not you’ll cost a significant amount of money to cover.

Furthermore, if you’re planning on staying in the U.S. for more than one year, you’ll need to apply for an American driver’s license.

But don’t let these barriers hold you back from getting your license! There are several ways to save on insurance so that you can explore America’s open roads.

The easiest, of course, is to compare car insurance quotes with Insurify and find a car insurance company that understands your unique situation.

Cheapest Car Insurance for International Students

Insurify crunched the numbers and determined the cheapest and most expensive companies for international students. See which carriers have the lowest and highest generic quotes for foreign student drivers:

Cheapest Companies

Insurance CompanyLowest Rate
First Chicago$38/month
Bristol West$40/month
Mercury$42/month
Kemper$53/month
Dairyland$63/month

Most Expensive Companies

Insurance CompanyLowest Rate
Safeco$736/month
Elephant$167/month
Direct Auto$142/month
GAINSCO$130/month
National General$100/month

Here’s the easiest thing you can to do to save $$$

Find an insurance company that understands international drivers’ specific needs and can give you advice on coverage requirements. 

Larger national insurance companies typically offer some sort of international driver insurance and understand which discounts could help you save money as a new driver.

Use Insurify to compare free quotes from companies that can offer you the best auto insurance rates while you’re stateside. You can even unlock discounts based on your status as a student…it really does pay to be smart!

More insurance saving tips

Commuting and Driving as an International Student

  • Make sure you follow your state’s specific rules for international and citizen driver’s licenses. You don’t want points on your driving record that will lead to even higher insurance premiums.
  • If you plan on staying in the U.S. for more than a year, it’s recommended that you get a U.S. driver’s license instead of relying on your international driving permit, even if you don’t plan on becoming a citizen. Each state has different requirements for non-citizen driver’s licenses. You’ll avoid fees pinned on international drivers if you’re fully licensed.
  • Consider buying a car insurance policy that’s higher than state minimum liability insurance coverage. If you’ve just relocated, you might not have much of a savings account to fall back on, and the costs stemming from an at-fault car accident may be financially impossible if you don’t have sufficient insurance coverage.
  • Avoid choosing the highest deductible simply because it will lower your premium. You may agree to a deductible that is beyond your financial limits. It’s smart to select the highest possible deductible that you can afford, but it’s crucial to figure out how much you can actually pay out of pocket at a moment’s notice.
  • If you plan to drive to school or work frequently, make sure to make an educated guess on your mileage when purchasing insurance. Ask your insurance agent or another representative if your coverage levels are appropriate for your driving frequency. Conversely, if you have access to public transportation but still want a vehicle for out of town trips, make sure to add yourself as an occasional driver on your policy. Lower mileage means lower monthly payments.

Adjusting to a New Living Situation

  • If you have a family member living in the U.S. already and you’ll be moving to the same state as them, ask them about adding you to their policy. How come? Having multiple people on one policy is cheaper than owning one yourself, as a multi-driver policy qualifies the policyholder for multi-vehicle and -driver discounts. As such, you’ll only need to pay the additional charge on this family member’s policy. Your primary residence address will have to be the same as theirs.
  • If you’re visiting the U.S. for fewer than six months and a family member or friend is letting you borrow their vehicle, make sure they add you on their policy as a short term coverage user.
  • Be aware of where your new apartment, house, or job is located. When setting your premiums, insurance providers consider the crime and traffic rates of where your car spends most of its time. If your home or office is located in an area with high rates of both, you may want to add on security protection, comprehensive coverage, and collision coverage that will protect you in the event of theft, accidents, or damages. You might be able to unlock a discount if you buy an anti-theft or tracking device for your car.

Securing a Car as an International Student

  • Rent a vehicle that is already insured if you aren’t going to be in the U.S. for more than six months. In this case, car insurance comes automatically with your rental. The insurance with a rental comes as an additional fee.
  • You can also get car insurance by renting a vehicle with your credit card if this is an option available with your car rental or credit card company. You’ll get the protection you need at no additional cost. Call these companies beforehand and ask whether or not the policies apply to the U.S.; if the policy includes collision, comprehensive, and liability coverage and their respective coverage limits; and whether a fee applies.
  • Along with shopping for a car with safety features, remember that reliable vehicles such as family sedans are usually cheaper to insure, especially if they’re used. Convertibles are cool, but higher premiums aren’t.
  • Ask yourself if you need a car in the first place. Are you moving to a city with a reliable public transportation system? Would you be able to get to and from work or school with the subway or bus? If so, you could save a lot of money by simply opting out of a car.
  • If you’ve decided to buy your own car, consider buying one that has up-to-date safety features. Vehicles that include full-front airbags and restraint devices can qualify you for safe driving discounts.

International Students vs. Other Peers: Who Pays More?

You might identify with some, all, or none of these driver profiles. Regardless, these other quotes should give you an idea of the cheapest car insurance rates you could encounter in your comparison shopping journey.

Car Insurance Discounts for International Students

Here are the average rates of discount for which you might be eligible:

Browse, Compare, Discover with Insurify today!

Updated July 1, 2020

Nick Dehn is a content specialist for Insurify. A seasoned writer, Nick has produced feature pieces, opinion editorials, and press releases for start-ups, small businesses, and local news publications. He now develops content full-time for Insurify, researching and writing data-driven studies and producing insights on the insurance industry. Media appearances on behalf of Insurify include NBC, CBS, and NPR affiliates across the country. Nick is an alumnus of Williams College, where he graduated cum laude with a degree in English and Sociology.