Drivers in the United States need to have car insurance to drive in most states. Rates for car insurance can vary based on many factors, including which provider you choose, where you live, your driving history, and what type of deductible best suits your needs. This guide can help you learn everything you need to know about insurance for expats living in the United States so you can get the right coverage for you.
Car Insurance Challenges for Expats
As an expat, it’s important to be aware of common challenges you may face in acquiring affordable car insurance. Since insurance companies consider many factors when determining the insurance rate for individual drivers, expats can face challenges in obtaining certain pieces of information that providers need to calculate fair rates. This can lead to expats having higher premiums than the average American driver.
For example, if you’ve never had car insurance before, you may have to pay a higher rate because insurance companies in the United States are more likely to classify you as a new driver. Insurance providers often increase the rates for less experienced drivers because these drivers are more likely to be involved in an accident. Even if you owned a car and have experience driving, it’s common for U.S. insurance companies to classify expats as new drivers, especially if you can’t provide proof of insurance from your country of origin.
Factors that Affect Car Insurance Rates
Understanding what factors can influence your insurance rate can help you know what to expect from your premium. Here are some of the factors that affect car insurance rates in the United States:
- State and city of residence: Each state sets its own standards for minimum car insurance requirements, meaning how much insurance coverage you need to purchase and how much it costs can vary based on your state. Insurance rates can also differ based on your city of residence, with major urban areas typically having higher car insurance rates.
- Age: Young drivers under the age of 25 and senior drivers over the age of 65 often have higher insurance rates. Drivers who fall into either of these age categories may be more likely to be involved in an accident, so they often have higher premiums.
- Type of vehicle you drive: In general, older vehicles and standard commuter vehicles cost less to insure. You may pay more to insure a new car, sports car, or recreational vehicle.
- Driving history: Insurance providers consider your driving record and experience when determining your rate. If you didn’t have insurance previously or weren’t continuously insured, you may not have a documented driving history, which means insurance companies are likely to consider you a new driver, even if you’ve driven before.
- Driving habits: Your driving habits can affect your insurance, including how often you drive and how many miles you put on your vehicle in an average year. As an expat, you may not have records to provide evidence of your driving habits, and this lack of documentation may affect your rates.
- Credit history: Drivers with good credit often get lower rates from insurance providers. This is because they have documented histories that show they’re reliable with their payments.
Types of Car Insurance
In general, drivers in the U.S. choose between three different levels of coverage. Here’s what you need to know about each:
Liability coverage is typically the minimum required coverage in most states. This type of insurance provides basic coverage for drivers, but may not cover all of your expenses if you experience an accident. In general, liability coverage can help you manage your expenses if you caused an accident that resulted in property or bodily damage to another driver and their vehicle.
Liability coverage may not help you cover expenses related to medical or property damages to you or your vehicle. This means that if another driver causes an accident that damages your vehicle or causes you bodily harm, it’s up to their provider to cover the damages. If they’re uninsured or underinsured, you may not receive full compensation.
Collision coverage helps you cover the cost of damages incurred to your own vehicle regardless of fault. If you hit another vehicle or an object like a curb, fence, pole, sign, or tree, or if another vehicle hits you, this type of insurance can pay to replace or repair your vehicle. How much it pays depends on the original value of your vehicle minus the cost of depreciation.
Comprehensive coverage takes care of damages to your vehicle beyond collisions. For example, this type of coverage protects you from theft, vandalism, and weather-related damages, like natural disasters.
Car Insurance FAQs
Here are the answers to some other common questions about getting car insurance as an expatriate in the United States:
- How can I get the best deal on my insurance? The best way to get a fair rate on your insurance is to shop for a variety of policies and providers. Know how much coverage you need, learn what factors may affect your rate, and get quotes from multiple providers before choosing the best one for you.
- Does my insurance cover international travel? If you plan on traveling outside of the United States, some policies may cover your insurance needs abroad. However, this largely depends on your provider and package, so it’s important to do your research.
- Can I get temporary coverage? Most insurance policies cover a period of six months to a year, although some providers may offer shorter contracts. If you’re only visiting for a few weeks, you may prefer to purchase insurance through your car rental service. If you’re staying for longer than a few months and plan on purchasing your own vehicle, you may shop for a provider that offers temporary coverage policies.
Moving to or visiting another country can be an exciting experience. Having a vehicle for personal use can give you the freedom you need to work, explore, and make the most of your time abroad. If you’re an expat living in the United States, there’s a lot to learn about finding the right car insurance for your needs. Doing your research, learning about your options, and understanding how car insurance works in the United States can help you find the right plan for you.
At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.