Moving to a new country comes with a wave of things to do, including getting auto insurance if you own a car. In most states, minimum car insurance laws exist and driving without insurance is illegal. If you cause an accident while driving without a car insurance policy in place, you may be responsible for all the damages you caused, from repairing the other driver’s car to covering any resulting medical expenses, out of pocket.

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Can immigrants get car insurance? The challenge is greater in some states than others, but we can explore the process together.

Apply for a driver’s license

Before any insurance company will issue you a car insurance policy, you first need to show that you are a licensed driver. Depending on your immigration status, obtaining a driver’s license can be difficult.

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has a map you can use to see if your state issues driver’s licenses to immigrants who have entered the country without legal permission.

What if my state will not let me get a driver’s license?

If you live in a state where you cannot get a license due to your immigration status, getting car insurance coverage may be difficult. If you fall under the protections of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), you should be able to get a driver’s license no matter your state.

Otherwise, you can explore ways to get car insurance without a license. Just remember that driving without a license is illegal; you should not drive until you have a driver’s license.

Carriers for immigrants

Because each state has its own insurance regulations, your best option is to contact insurance companies in your state individually to ask how your situation may be handled.

This said, if your immigration status is not in question and you have a U.S. driver’s license, you should be able to obtain a car insurance policy from a broad range of insurance providers. Doing some research and getting a few quotes could help you find the best car insurance company for your needs.

Finding a carrier for your car insurance needs may be a challenge if you have entered the country without legal permission. If you have been able to obtain a license, you may be able to purchase a policy, but otherwise you may need to find a way to avoid driving and therefore needing insurance.

How to buy car insurance

Once you have your license, the process for getting car insurance should be just like any other driver:

Decide how much coverage you need

Almost every state requires drivers to carry at least minimum levels of certain car insurance coverage types. The minimum requirements of your state will represent the lowest level of coverage you can purchase. However, most insurance experts agree that buying higher liability limits is a prudent measure, as higher limits provide more financial protection.

If your vehicle is financed, you’ll also likely need full coverage. This type of policy adds both collision coverage (which is designed to cover your car after damage caused by collisions) and comprehensive coverage (which covers non-collision events like theft and vandalism). If you aren’t sure how much car insurance you need, working with an agent can be helpful.

Collect at least three quotes

Most insurance professionals recommend reaching out to at least three insurance companies for quotes. Getting more than one quote, as long as the quotes are for the same coverage types and limits, allows you to compare prices and other company features, like customer service ratings.

In most cases, you’ll need to provide the following to get your auto insurance quote:

  • Personal information like your name, date of birth and driver’s license number
  • The make and model of your car
  • The vehicle identification number (VIN) of your car
  • Your driving history
  • Your estimated annual mileage
  • Information about any other drivers who need to be listed on the policy

Apply for coverage

Once you determine which insurance provider can offer you the best policy for your needs, you can apply for coverage. Usually, this means filling out and submitting an application and a payment. Then, the insurance company will review your information and either approve you for a policy or decline to cover you. If the latter happens, you can try again with another insurer.

Pay your premiums

Once you get approved for your car insurance, make sure you pay your premiums. If you miss a payment, your policy can lapse, leaving you without coverage.

Usually, your auto insurance premiums will be due on a monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or yearly basis. You may be able to save money by paying your entire premium at once. You may also get a discounted rate if you sign up for automatic payments.

Frequently asked questions

Can immigrants get car insurance?

It depends on your personal situation. If you have entered the country without legal permission, you may not be able to get your driver’s license, depending on the state that you live in. If you are unable to get a license, you won’t be able to get insurance. If your immigration status is not in question, though, you should be able to get car insurance coverage as long as you are able to obtain and maintain a U.S. driver’s license.

However, if you have a foreign license, you may be able to find car insurance. If you’re here on a shorter-term stay and using someone else’s vehicle, you may want to have the vehicle owner talk to their insurance carrier and add you as a driver. If you purchase a car while you are here and need car insurance, you may be able to find a carrier who will insure you with a foreign license, although it is likely going to take a bit more research than if you had a U.S. license.

How much does insurance for immigrants cost?

The average cost of car insurance in the U.S. is $1,674 per year for full coverage. Your rates will vary based on a number of factors, including the state you live in, the types and levels of coverage you choose, your driving history and the type of car you drive.

Can I get car insurance without a Social Security number?

Some companies may ask for a Social Security number, but most do not require it. As long as you have a valid driver’s license, you should be able to obtain car insurance, even if you do not have a Social Security number.