Car Insurance for Expats (2024)

Your insurance history abroad could have a lot of influence on the rates you pay when you return to the United States.

John Egan
Written byJohn Egan
John Egan
John Egan
  • 20+ years in insurance and personal finance content creation

  • Contributor to top brands like USA Today

John specializes in insurance, personal finance, real estate, and health and wellness. In 2022, he authored a guide on content marketing for beginners.

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Chris Schafer
Edited byChris Schafer
Chris Schafer
Chris SchaferSenior Editor
  • 15+ years in content creation

  • 7+ years in business and financial services content

Chris is a seasoned writer/editor with past experience across myriad industries, including insurance, SAS, finance, Medicare, logistics, marketing/advertising, and many more.

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Konstantin Halachev
Data reviewed byKonstantin Halachev
Headshot of Konstantin Halachev, VP of Engineering at Insurify
Konstantin HalachevVP of Engineering & Data Science
  • 7+ years experience in data analysis

  • Ph.D. in Computational Biology

Konstantin has led data teams across multiple industries, including insurance, travel, and biology. He’s led Insurify’s engineering team for more than three years.

Updated July 18, 2024

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Drivers using Insurify have found quotes as cheap as $35/mo for liability only and $43/mo for full coverage.

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*Quotes generated for Insurify users within the last 10 days. Last updated on July 18, 2024

Rates shown are real-time Insurify user quotes from 100+ insurance companies and Quadrant Information Services data. Insurify’s algorithm excludes anomalous quotes and anonymizes personal details, then displays refined quotes by price, date, and insurer popularity up to 10 days ago from July 18, 2024. Actual quotes may vary based on the policy buyer’s unique driver profile.

If you’re coming back to the United States after time spent living in a foreign country, you’re naturally going through a process of re-adjusting to many things. And one of those will involve re-acquiring U.S. car insurance.

Here’s what you need to know about the U.S. insurance market at a high level, what to consider upon returning, and how your time spent abroad could affect your rates here.

Quick Facts
  • Nearly every state requires a driver to carry a minimum amount of car insurance.

  • Expats might pay more for their car insurance than people who haven’t lived abroad.

  • Your insurance coverage abroad could affect your rates when you return to the United States.

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How does car insurance for expatriates work?

When you return to the U.S., you’ll be allowed to travel the road on a foreign driver’s license or an international driver’s permit for a limited amount of time.[1] The rules depend on which state you move to.

You can also buy a temporary car insurance policy if you hold a foreign driver’s license. This could be your best option because it lets you drive with coverage in the U.S. for three months. You can also purchase a one-year policy if you hold an international driver’s permit.

Beyond the one-year mark, you must obtain a U.S. driver’s license and seek new coverage. The rate you pay for coverage in the U.S. can be dictated, in part, by your insurance coverage overseas.

If you can provide contact information and documents and demonstrate you had international car insurance, you’re more likely to pay a lower rate to insurance companies in the U.S. This is because you’re showing your insurer your ability to carry insurance, and the company can see how frequently you’ve filed claims.

Important Information

If you can’t prove you carried insurance abroad with a third party or had a period when you didn’t carry international auto insurance, insurers will see this as a gap in coverage. This could cause you to pay higher rates than you would have otherwise.

Car insurance basics

When you pay a premium for your car insurance policy, you’re buying protection from your insurer. A standard liability policy covers injuries or damage you cause in a car accident up to a certain dollar amount. It won’t cover damage to your personal property.

Nearly every state, except New Hampshire and Virginia, has a legal requirement for motorists to carry the state’s minimum amount of car insurance. In New Hampshire and Virginia, if you don’t want insurance, you must be able to demonstrate your ability to meet your expected liability requirements out of pocket instead.

Some states may require additional coverage, such as personal injury protection or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. And if you’ve taken out a car loan or lease, the lender might require you to buy comprehensive and collision coverages to insure your car and protect against a total loss.

Types of car insurance

Whether you’ve been away from the U.S. car insurance market for an extended period of time or you’re looking as a first-time customer, here’s a rundown of some common types of car insurance coverage so you can find the best value for you:

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/x/4c9753bdbe/medical-payments.svg

    Bodily injury liability

    Bodily injury liability covers medical expenses for injuries you cause to the other driver and passengers involved in an accident.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/x/db598219e3/damage-from-aircraft.svg

    Property damage liability

    Property damage liability helps pay for damage you cause to someone else’s property or vehicle.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/x/f2ca9fa443/protection-for-passengers.svg

    Personal injury protection (PIP) coverage

    PIP covers medical expenses for your and your passengers’ injuries suffered in an accident, regardless of who caused it. PIP is sometimes called “no-fault coverage.”

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/x/5285c4cd74/uninsured-or-underinsured-motorist-coverage.svg

    Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage

    Uninsured motorist coverage pays for your medical bills and repair bills if you’re involved in an accident caused by a motorist without car insurance. Underinsured motorist coverage kicks in when a driver who caused an accident doesn’t have enough coverage to pay for your medical bills and repair bills.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/x/169fdfde11/liability-coverage.svg

    Collision coverage

    No matter who’s at fault, collision coverage pays repair bills when your car is damaged in a crash. If you financed your car, the lender might require you to have collision coverage.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/x/665da91bf7/comprehensive-coverage.svg

    Comprehensive coverage

    Comprehensive coverage pays to repair or replace your car when it’s been damaged in an incident other than a collision. For instance, it typically covers damage caused by hail or a fallen tree limb. Lenders often require you to have comprehensive coverage.

Personal Injury Protection: What Is It, and Do You Need It?

Personal Injury Protection: What Is It, and Do You Need It?

Car insurance for returning expats

If you’ve just returned from living abroad, don’t be too surprised if your car insurance premiums are a bit more expensive than you expected. Unless you kept your U.S. auto coverage while abroad, you’ll likely face higher insurance costs now.

Even if you aren’t a new U.S. driver, having a gap in your coverage can hike costs when you get a new policy. Drivers who have gone without coverage for more than 60 days typically end up paying more, Insurify data shows.

Factors that affect your car insurance rates

Your insurance coverage while living abroad isn’t the only thing that can affect your car insurance rates. Insurance companies review several details, including your:

  • Driving history: This includes whether you’ve recently caused a car accident or received a traffic ticket, both of which can cause your car insurance price to go up. The same may hold true if you have no driving record at all, as a brand-new driver has no behind-the-wheel experience and can be seen as higher-risk by insurers.

  • Type of car: The kind of car you own can affect how much you pay for car insurance. For instance, your premium might be higher if you drive a car that’s prone to theft or that costs a lot to repair.[2]

  • Age: Younger drivers with less on-the-road experience usually pay more for coverage than older drivers with more experience. That’s largely because younger drivers — those under 25 — tend to get into more accidents than older drivers do. Senior drivers also generally pay higher rates because of reduced reflexes and the increased risk of serious injury in the event of an accident.

  • Location: If you live in an area where car thefts, vandalism, or accidents are more common, you might pay a higher price for car insurance.

  • Lapses in coverage: Going without coverage can result in higher car insurance rates because an insurer might see you as a high-risk driver.[3]

  • Credit score: Most states allow insurers to use your credit score when determining your quote. Insurers see drivers with higher credit scores as less likely to file an insurance claim, so you can expect to pay a lower premium if your credit score is higher.

Recent quotes for other Insurify users

Insurify’s drivers have found rates ranging from $43/mo. to $135/mo. in the last few days

*Quotes generated for Insurify users within the last 10 days. Last updated on July 18, 2024

Rates shown are real-time Insurify user quotes from 100+ insurance companies and Quadrant Information Services data. Insurify’s algorithm excludes anomalous quotes and anonymizes personal details, then displays refined quotes by price, date, and insurer popularity up to 10 days ago from July 18, 2024. Actual quotes may vary based on the policy buyer’s unique driver profile.

*Quotes generated for Insurify users within the last 10 days. Last updated on July 18, 2024

Rates shown are real-time Insurify user quotes from 100+ insurance companies and Quadrant Information Services data. Insurify’s algorithm excludes anomalous quotes and anonymizes personal details, then displays refined quotes by price, date, and insurer popularity up to 10 days ago from July 18, 2024. Actual quotes may vary based on the policy buyer’s unique driver profile.

Expat car insurance FAQs

Car insurance for expats might be more expensive than it is for other drivers. However, expats can keep their costs down by opting for only the minimum amount of required coverage and by comparing quotes from different insurance companies to find the best deal. If you still have questions, review the information presented here.

  • Does your U.S. car insurance policy cover international travel?

    In most cases, your U.S. car insurance policy doesn’t cover international travel because the car you drive in another country isn’t likely to be the same car you drive in the U.S. Unless you move abroad and have your own vehicle shipped there, you won’t be covered.

  • What is the minimum amount of car insurance coverage you need to buy upon returning to the U.S.?

    Each state has its own minimum requirements, so be sure to check these when you plan your move back to the U.S. In most cases, you’ll be required to carry liability coverage, which includes bodily injury liability if you hurt someone else while driving a car, and property damage liability for any damage you cause.

  • Do you need to buy additional car insurance on top of the state minimum?

    In most cases, you only need the state minimum in auto insurance coverage. However, if you purchase a new car, your lender may require you to carry collision and comprehensive coverages. In either event, several categories of insurance add-ons might be helpful if you want extra coverage and peace of mind.

  • What’s the best way to get the cheapest auto insurance policy?

    Shopping for car insurance quotes offers you the best opportunity to find the most affordable auto insurance rates. By comparing quotes from several insurers, you can find the best rates and secure your next policy for your return to the United States.

Sources

  1. USA.gov. "Driving in the U.S. if you are not a citizen."
  2. Insurance Information Institute. "What determines the price of an auto insurance policy?."
  3. The Hartford. "What happens if car insurance lapses?."
John Egan
John Egan

John Egan is a freelance writer and content marketing strategist in Austin, Texas. His specialties include personal finance, real estate, and health and wellness. John’s work has been published by outlets such as CreditCard.com, Bankrate, Forbes Advisor, Experian, Capital One, The Balance and U.S. News & World Report. He is the author of The Stripped-Down Guide to Content Marketing.

Chris Schafer
Edited byChris SchaferSenior Editor
Chris Schafer
Chris SchaferSenior Editor
  • 15+ years in content creation

  • 7+ years in business and financial services content

Chris is a seasoned writer/editor with past experience across myriad industries, including insurance, SAS, finance, Medicare, logistics, marketing/advertising, and many more.

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Konstantin Halachev
Data reviewed byKonstantin HalachevVP of Engineering & Data Science
Headshot of Konstantin Halachev, VP of Engineering at Insurify
Konstantin HalachevVP of Engineering & Data Science
  • 7+ years experience in data analysis

  • Ph.D. in Computational Biology

Konstantin has led data teams across multiple industries, including insurance, travel, and biology. He’s led Insurify’s engineering team for more than three years.

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