International car insurance for foreign visitors

Two beautiful young woman inside a small, vintage yellow car. The top remains open. They stand up in the vehicle, through the sunroof and take photos of each other. We can see Italy's famous view of Positano in the background. Depicts a scene of experiential travel, suggesting renting a car, travel tours, European road trips and nostalgia.Image: Two beautiful young woman inside a small, vintage yellow car. The top remains open. They stand up in the vehicle, through the sunroof and take photos of each other. We can see Italy's famous view of Positano in the background. Depicts a scene of experiential travel, suggesting renting a car, travel tours, European road trips and nostalgia.

In a Nutshell

Nearly every state in the U.S. requires car insurance for foreign visitors — no matter how long you plan to stay. Insurance requirements vary by state, and the coverage option that’s right for you depends on different factors.
Editorial Note: Intuit Credit Karma receives compensation from third-party advertisers, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our third-party advertisers don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. Information about financial products not offered on Credit Karma is collected independently. Our content is accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted.

If you’re planning a trip to the States and intend to drive while you’re here, you need car insurance before getting behind the wheel — no matter how long your stay is.

The requirements for obtaining coverage and the type of policy that’s right for you depend on the length of your stay and the state you’re visiting. Read on to learn more about how to get car insurance, the requirements you must meet and your policy options.

Can foreign visitors get car insurance?

Foreign visitors can purchase car insurance in the United States. You must have a driver’s license from your home country to get coverage, and some states also require foreign drivers to have an international driving permit. You can check with the transportation agency in the state you’re visiting for more information about licensing requirements.

United States car insurance requirements

Nearly every state in the country requires drivers to purchase auto insurance to drive legally, but the type and amount of coverage you need varies by state. You can learn about a state’s insurance requirements from its Department of Motor Vehicles, Department of Transportation or Department of Insurance.

Mandatory auto insurance coverage

Depending on the state you’re visiting, you’ll likely need some combination of the following coverages:

  • Bodily injury liability — Pays for other people’s medical bills if you’re at fault in an accident.
  • Property damage liability — Pays for repairs to other people’s property if you’re at fault in an accident.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motoristPays for your medical care and damage to your vehicle if an uninsured or underinsured driver is at fault.
  • Personal injury protection (PIP) / Medical payments (Medpay) — Covers the cost of treating your injuries after an accident, regardless of who is at fault.

Optional insurance coverages

You can choose to add optional coverages to your policy for more protection. Here are some common ones.

CoverageWhat it pays for
CollisionRepairs to your vehicle after a crash
ComprehensiveRepairs to your vehicle from damage caused by severe weather, falling objects, animals and other non-crash-related incidents
Rental reimbursementThe cost of a rental car while your vehicle is being repaired
Roadside assistanceTowing and other emergency roadside services

Car insurance for short-term visitors

Purchasing rental car insurance may be a good option if you’re planning a short visit. When you rent a car, the company provides the minimum coverage the state requires. You can purchase more coverage for added protection, including …

  • Additional liability coverage — The state minimum may not be enough to cover injuries and vehicle repairs if you’re in a serious accident.
  • Loss damage waiver — Waives your responsibility for vehicle repairs or replacement if the car is damaged or stolen.
  • Personal accident insurance — Covers your and your passengers’ medical bills if you’re in an accident.
  • Personal effects coverage — Pays to replace items stolen from your car.

Car insurance for long-term visitors

If you’ll be in the country for more than a quick visit, you can buy a policy from an insurance provider based in the U.S. But you may need a U.S. license to get one.

Not all insurers provide coverage to drivers who have a foreign license. Even if you can get car insurance without a U.S. license, it may be worth getting one. Some states require drivers to have a U.S. license if staying for more than a month or two.

If you’re purchasing coverage from a U.S. insurance company, here are a few options.

Traditional car insurance policy

You can start by contacting companies directly to find out if they offer coverage to international visitors. It’s a good idea to check with both national insurers and smaller, local providers to compare your options. Plus, getting car insurance quotes from multiple providers will help you find the lowest rates.

Non-owner policy

Non-owner insurance is liability coverage that applies when you drive cars you don’t own — like if you were to borrow a car from a friend or family member or use a car-sharing service. A non-owner policy may be a good option if you don’t plan on driving your own vehicle. But it doesn’t usually cover damage to the vehicle.

Pay-per-mile auto insurance

With pay-per-mile insurance, you pay a base rate no matter how much you drive, plus a per-mile fee for each mile you drive. A pay-per-mile policy may help you save on your car insurance premium if you won’t be putting many miles on your car.

Which insurance companies offer car insurance to foreign visitors?

If you don’t have a U.S. driver’s license, here are a couple of insurers that may provide coverage without one.

  • Progressive — Drivers can get a policy from Progressive if they have a license from their home country or an international driving permit.
  • State Farm — Foreign visitors can purchase insurance from State Farm if they meet the driving requirements of the state they’re visiting.

FAQs about car insurance for foreign visitors

If you plan to drive in the United States, you’ll likely need insurance before getting behind the wheel. Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about purchasing car insurance for foreign visitors.

Can you drive in the U.S. with a foreign license?

If you’re visiting the U.S. for a brief stay, you can typically drive with a foreign license. Depending on the state you’re visiting, you may also need an international driving permit. If you’re planning a lengthier stay, you may need to get a U.S. license.

Do you need to be a U.S. citizen to get car insurance?

No. You don’t need to be a U.S. citizen to get car insurance. If you’re visiting the country briefly, you can typically get coverage from the rental car company. For longer stays, you can get coverage from an insurance company based in the U.S.

What’s next?

If you’ll be visiting the U.S., here are a few questions to ask yourself before arriving so you can get the type of auto insurance coverage that’s right for you.

  • How long do you plan to stay?
  • How much do you plan to drive?
  • What type of policy and coverage will provide the financial protection you need?
  • Will insurance from a rental car company provide adequate protection for your needs?
  • What state are you visiting? Do you need an international driving permit to get insurance in that state? Does the state require a U.S. driver’s license before purchasing coverage?

About the author: Jennifer Brozic is a freelance financial services writer with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree in communication management from Towson University. She’s committed… Read more.