Every state has its own car insurance laws, especially regarding minimum coverage requirements and accidents. A standard auto insurance policy is based wherever you keep your car but will extend coverage out-of-state and bend to the car insurance laws of whatever state you’re visiting. However, if you live and store vehicles in multiple states, you may need to register your car in one state and insure it in another or purchase multiple policies to meet your out-of-state insurance needs.

Does your car insurance cover you out of state?

Your car insurance policy generally will cover you when you drive your car out of state. If you are on vacation, for example, or are passing through another state on a road trip, you won’t need to get a separate car insurance policy. Rather, something known as a “broadening clause” goes into effect, and your car insurance policy will now adhere to the laws of the state you’re currently in. This is important if you have minimum coverage car insurance, or if you drive into a state with different at-fault or no-fault laws.

Driving out of the country also comes with different rules. While your American car insurance policy typically will cover you in Canada, it likely won’t cover you in Mexico. You may need to purchase a short-term Mexican auto insurance policy to cover you during your trip. As such, it’s usually best to check with your insurance company before you leave.

Learn more: How much car insurance do you need?

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Does car insurance cover college students out of state?

Whether or not car insurance covers college students out of state depends on several factors: state regulations, the student’s primary address and whether they return home during breaks. In most cases, a student attending college without a car whose primary residence is still their parents’ home in a different state can still be covered by the parents’ insurance in their original state of residence. If the student lives over 100 miles from home, some insurers even offer a discount on the family’s policy.

On the other hand, college students who bring a car to school in a different state and live out of state year-round may need to purchase a standalone policy in the state where they keep their car. If you’re not sure whether you need a separate policy, consider contacting your insurance company to ask about your situation and check the state requirements in both your home state and the state where you or your family member are attending school.

Learn more: Best car insurance for young adults

Can my car be registered in one state and insured in another?

In general, your car must be registered and insured in the same state, since both vehicle registration and auto insurance are based on your permanent residence. In fact, using an address for insurance that’s different from the primary residence where you keep your vehicle is a form of insurance fraud.

However, in some cases it’s possible to insure a car in a state other than the one where your primary residence is. If you live in multiple states or are a member of the military, out-of-state auto insurance exceptions exist — but it’s important to understand how they might apply in your situation.

You are a resident of two states

If you split your time between two states, you may be able to get auto insurance in either of the two states (but it will not technically be “out of state” since you will be living there). Most often, the rule of thumb is your car must be insured in the state where it is registered. Every state has its own rules and laws, so you will likely need to speak with your department of motor vehicles (DMV) or an agent from your insurance company to make sure you are complying with state law and are fully covered.

If you have multiple vehicles kept in different states — for instance, a daily driver at your home in Maryland and a sports car that stays at your vacation home in Florida — you will likely need separate insurance policies for each vehicle based in the states where they’re garaged.

Time is another variable. Some states will only issue tags to vehicles that are in the state for 183 days or more a year to qualify for dual residency. Check with the DMV in any state you live in part-time to determine your registration and insurance needs.

You are a member of the military stationed in another state

Most states allow military members to continue coverage from their home state while they are stationed elsewhere. However, this may not be the case in the event of a permanent change of station (PCS), where you spend 20 weeks or more at a location. When moving to another state, you will likely need to consider purchasing new coverage. If this happens, speak with an agent to ensure you are properly covered.

Frequently asked questions

    • It depends on your car insurance company. Usually, the window is 30 to 90 days. If you know when you are moving, the best thing you can do is to speak with an agent as soon as possible and tell them your plans. Otherwise, you may run the risk of getting into an accident and finding out that you are not covered.
    • Unless you keep your car full-time in a state that’s not your primary residence, using an out-of-state address to insure your car could be a form of insurance fraud. If you have residences in multiple states, talk to your insurance provider to understand where your policy should be based in order to avoid communication issues that could lead to unpaid claims.
    • If your current car insurance provider offers nationwide coverage, you might be able to transfer your policy simply by updating your policy information with your current carrier. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that your vehicle’s garaging location impacts the cost of coverage, and a different insurance provider could offer lower rates for you at your new address. If you’re concerned with finding affordable coverage, or if your carrier isn’t available in your new state, start the shopping process online or find a local agent — just make sure you have your new address on hand before you begin.
    • If you get an out-of-state ticket, you’ll need to resolve the ticket with that state in order to avoid potential suspension of your driver’s license in your home state. Most states participate in the Driver License Compact (DLC) or the Nonresident Violator Compact (NVC), which allow states to process traffic violations across borders and exchange information about driver violations.

      Unless you live in one of the two states that don’t participate in either agreement — Michigan and Wisconsin — the DLC and NVC ensure that your home state will be informed of your violation and can even suspend your license until you resolve the matter with the other state. No matter where the violation took place, drivers with tickets typically pay more for auto insurance following renewal of the policy.
    • Bankrate’s insurance editorial team analyzed 2024 auto insurance rates and found that the three cheapest states for full coverage car insurance include Vermont ($1,347 per year), Idaho ($1,416 per year) and Maine ($1,497 per year). For drivers seeking only state minimum liability coverage, the cheapest states are Wyoming at just $270 per year, followed by Vermont and Iowa at $311 and $316 per year, respectively.

      Keep in mind, though, that location is only one factor impacting premiums. A young driver with several speeding tickets in Vermont might end up paying more than an older driver with a clean record in Florida, one of the most expensive states for auto insurance.