Cheapest Car Insurance for International Students (2023)

International students can get U.S car insurance with a valid driver’s license and an insurer that works with foreign license holders.

Updated June 1, 2022

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Drivers must have car insurance or prove financial responsibility in the U.S. The exact requirements vary by state, but 48 states have minimum-coverage laws.[1] If you drive without car insurance in most states, you could face hefty fines, large medical bills, license suspension, vehicle impoundment, and jail.[2]

Driving uninsured has serious consequences, so coverage is necessary, even for international students and other temporary drivers. Depending on your home country and current state, you can access car insurance with one of three licenses: a driver’s license from your home country, an international driver’s permit, or a U.S. driver’s license.

Here’s how to set up coverage and find the best deal.

Quick Facts
  • New Hampshire and Virginia are the only states that don’t require insurance, but drivers do need to prove financial responsibility if they opt out of coverage.

  • If you finance or lease a vehicle, your lender may require you to purchase collision and comprehensive insurance.

  • Full-coverage insurance costs more than liability coverage because it provides more protection for vehicles.

Car insurance options for international students

To set up coverage, you may need a driver’s license from your home country, a regular state license if you’re living in the country permanently, or an international driver’s permit (IDP). You should apply for an IDP before coming to the country because the U.S. doesn’t issue IDPs to foreign visitors. Contact your country’s motor vehicle department to get an IDP.[3]

Your age, driving record, location, and other factors affect the cost of insurance. Your insurer might consider you “newly insured” if you don’t have a history of driving in the U.S., which could increase the cost of your coverage.

Most car insurance companies cover international drivers, including students studying abroad. But some companies might have more experience working with international students and could be a better fit. Several long-standing insurance companies, including Progressive, State Farm, and Dairyland, work with international drivers.

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Cheapest car insurance for international students

Whether you’re a student from another country or the U.S., you’ll generally pay much more for car insurance than drivers in other age groups. Mile Auto provides the lowest rate for students, with average monthly rates of $145 for liability and $220 for full coverage.

Liability coverage meets the legal requirements for car insurance and pays for damages to other vehicles and bodily injury to people. But liability coverage doesn’t cover your injuries or damage to your car when you cause the accident. For more financial protectin, you need full-coverage insurance.

Most car insurance companies charge much more for full coverage, but having enough coverage in an emergency can be worth the cost.

Here’s the average cost of liability and full coverage for all students purchasing coverage in the U.S. The data below is not specific to international students, but it should provide a general idea of what to expect.

Car Insurance CompanyAverage Monthly Quote: LiabilityAverage Monthly Quote: Full CoverageInsurify Quality (IQ) Score
Mile Auto$145$2203.4
National General$205$4593.2
Direct Auto$353$4373.2
Liberty Mutual$368$4803.8
The General$382$5393.4
Bristol West$396$6492.2
Disclaimer: Table data sourced from real-time quotes from Insurify's 50-plus partner insurance providers and quote estimates from Quadrant Information Services. Actual quotes may vary based on the policy buyer's unique driver profile.
  • Insurify uses an in-house, proprietary method to rate and review the best car insurance companies. The Insurify Quality (IQ) Score uses more than 15 crucial criteria, including average premiums, customer satisfaction, discounts, third-party ratings, and more, to calculate a final score for a company.

    Criteria are weighted by importance to the consumer — factors such as customer reviews and affordability influence the score more than availability and third-party ratings. With the IQ Score, Insurify is able to provide quantitative ratings for drivers to better compare car insurance companies and make informed decisions to meet their coverage needs.

Types of car insurance for international students

Each state has different coverage requirements, but you usually need bodily injury and property damage liability coverages for when the other party sustains damages or injuries. You might opt for a full-coverage policy — which includes collision and comprehensive coverage — to protect your property in the event of an accident or to meet lender requirements.

You have many options for coverage, and it’s essential to understand the differences. As you shop for insurance, consider your state and lender requirements, if applicable, as well as the type of coverage that will make you feel most comfortable as a driver.

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 Protects you if you cause damages to property or injuries to other people.

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Personal injury protection (PIP)

 Provides coverage for your medical expenses regardless of fault. 

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Uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance

If another driver causes an accident but doesn’t have insurance, this policy pays for your repairs and medical expenses.

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Regardless of fault, this coverage protects you if your car collides with an object, vehicle, or building.

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This coverage protects you against damages from other sources, like theft, vandalism, falling branches, or hail.[4]

What factors affect car insurance rates?

Various factors affect car insurance rates, including age, driving record, location, type of car, and credit score. Insurance companies use this information to determine how likely a customer is to file a claim, something that costs the company money.[5] Even though you can’t change some of the factors companies use to determine your rate, you have ways to secure the best deal.


Age is one of the most significant factors influencing car insurance rates for college students, including international students. If you’re younger than 25, you can expect to pay more than older drivers with a similar profile. Teenage drivers see the most expensive rates.[6]

If you’re a young driver in your first year or two of college, you might pay significantly more for coverage because of limited driving experience and an increased likelihood of accidents. On average, car insurance costs $405 per month for 18-year-olds and $469 per month for 19-year-olds.

You can still find a good deal if you’re younger than 25, but you might need to shop around for the best price. Luckily, you can usually expect your rate to decrease each year. If you graduate college at 21, you could be paying $135 less each month than you were when you started school at 18.

AgeAverage Monthly Quote
Disclaimer: Table data sourced from real-time quotes from Insurify's 50-plus partner insurance providers. Actual quotes may vary based on the policy buyer's unique driver profile.

Driving record

Your driving record affects your car insurance rate. You can usually expect your rate to decrease over time if you have a clean record without accidents or other violations. But the reverse is true, too — your rate can increase if you have a speeding ticket, moving violation, or car accident. The same is true if you get a DUI or other high-risk offense. Your premium will likely increase, and you may even lose coverage.[7]

You likely don’t have a driving record in the United States as an international student. But that doesn’t mean you can’t build a clean driving record over time. As you shop around, you should check whether insurance companies will consider your driving history at home.

“If [you] can prove at least several years of driving experience in [your] home country, it helps,” says Zach Lazzari, an international auto insurance expert and the owner of Cross Border Coverage. “Asking directly about discounts is always a good idea as well.”

Learn More: Car Insurance for International Drivers

Learn More: Car Insurance for International Drivers

Type of car

The car you drive can also influence your rate. The characteristics of your vehicle — the age, size, cost, and other information about the car — can lead to price increases or decreases in your premium.

In general, newer and more expensive cars cost more to insure since they cost more to replace. But, at the same time, the additional safety features in new vehicles might help lower the costs. It all depends on the vehicle factors your insurer considers. If you plan to buy a car to use during your studies, consider the type you pick.

“Vehicle type and age and intended use are all factors [to] consider. A moderate-value, reliable vehicle that is made for general use and commuting is always a good idea for reasonable policy costs,” says Lazzari.


Your location — including state, city, and ZIP code — plays a role in your car insurance costs. Each state has different requirements for minimum car insurance coverage. If you live in a state with more required coverage, you’ll likely pay higher rates.

Your rate may also depend on population and traffic density and how many accidents occur in the area each year. Weather and crime rates can also affect how much you pay. You can’t do much to change this factor, but you should prepare for how it may affect costs.

Credit score

In most states, car insurance companies can use credit scores to determine rates. California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Washington prohibit using credit checks. But it might be a factor if you live in the other states.

Insurers use credit scores because statistics show that drivers with high credit scores have fewer accidents and cost less to insure than drivers with lower scores. A higher score can generally lead to a lower rate, while a lower score may lead to a higher rate.[8]

As an international student, you may not have a credit score in the U.S. If you plan to access credit cards or loans, you should consider how credit history can affect insurance rates.

Steps for getting car insurance as an international student

If you’re ready to shop for insurance as an international student, you can start the process before coming to the U.S. Whether you’re already at school or starting to research options, here’s what you need to do.

  • Confirm license details. The first and most crucial step is establishing which license type you plan to use — your country’s driving license, an IDP, a regular state driver’s license, or a noncitizen U.S. license. Using the license from your home country is usually easiest, especially if you plan to live in the U.S. for less than a year. But you can also opt for an international driving permit instead.

  • Research companies. Next, you should compile a list of possible insurance companies. Only some insurers offer coverage for international drivers, so figuring out which companies do is essential.

  • Select a coverage type. You must also determine the type of coverage you need and want. Most insurance companies can help ensure you have the necessary coverage for your state. But you might need additional coverage if you’re financing or leasing a car.

  • Compare quotes. Once you know what you need, it’s time to compare quotes from at least three insurers to determine the best offer for your insurance and financial needs.

  • Ask about discounts. The final step is to ask your insurance company about discounts. Even though many insurers mention applicable discounts without prompting, you should always  check with them.

How to save money on car insurance

You can usually save extra money with discounts, high deductibles, and good credit. Here are some ways to save money on car insurance as an international student.

  • High deductible: Your deductible is the amount you must pay in the event of a claim. Deductibles can range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. In general, a higher deductible equals a lower premium. So if you need to save money on car insurance, you can opt for a higher deductible if you can afford to.

  • Good credit: In most states, car insurance companies consider your credit score to determine your rate. People with a higher score tend to pay lower rates. As an international student, you may not currently have a credit score in the U.S., but you should consider it if you plan to access credit or loans.

  • Clean driving record: Car insurance companies consider your driving record when determining rates. You usually qualify for a lower rate if you don’t have a history of accidents or other violations. You might not have a driving record in the U.S. yet, but you can ask about options like defensive driving courses to lower your rate.

  • Discounts: Most car insurance companies offer discounts that can help lower your premium. As a student, you might qualify for a good student discount if you achieve specific grades. It’s always wise to ask about potential discounts as you shop for quotes.

  • Bundling: Insurance companies often offer bundling discounts when you have multiple insurance products. For example, you might need renters insurance if you plan to rent an apartment on or off campus. You could save if you get your policies from the same insurer.

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International student car insurance FAQs

It can be challenging to figure out insurance in a foreign country. But you can get car insurance coverage as an international student. Here’s what you need to know.

  • Can international students get car insurance in the U.S.?

    International students can get car insurance in the U.S. if they have a valid driver’s license, usually a license from home, an international driver’s permit (IDP), or a U.S. driver’s license.

  • What insurance companies insure international drivers?

    Most insurance companies insure international drivers, including some of the largest insurers in the country, like Progressive and State Farm. You need the proper driver’s license to get coverage.

  • Do international students pay more for car insurance?

    As an international student, you probably don’t have a driving history in the U.S. Because of that, your insurer might consider you “newly insured” and charge you increased rates. Rates depend on the insurance company and factors like your age, location, and car type.

  • Can international students own a car?

    International students can own a car. You can buy a used car directly from the previous owner or purchase a new vehicle from a dealership.


  1. Insurance Information Institute. "Automobile Financial Responsibility Laws By State." Accessed May 24, 2023
  2. Kelley Blue Book. "Penalties for Driving Without Car Insurance by State." Accessed May 24, 2023
  3. USAGov. "Driving in the U.S. if you are not a citizen." Accessed May 24, 2023
  4. Insurance Information Institute. "Auto insurance basics—understanding your coverage." Accessed May 24, 2023
  5. Insurance Information Institute. "What determines the price of an auto insurance policy?." Accessed May 24, 2023
  6. Insurance Information Institute. "Auto insurance for teen drivers." Accessed May 24, 2023
  7. Insurance Information Institute. "Do auto insurance premiums go up after a claim?." Accessed May 24, 2023
  8. Insurance Information Institute. "Credit and insurance scores." Accessed May 24, 2023
Taylor Milam-Samuel
Taylor Milam-Samuel

Taylor Milam-Samuel is a writer and credentialed educator who is fascinated by how people earn, save, and spend their money. When she's not researching financial terms and conditions, she can be found in the classroom teaching.