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Every state has its own car insurance laws, especially when it comes to minimum coverage limits and accidents. If you take your car out-of-state, the car insurance laws of that state supersedes your home state. Knowing what happens to your car insurance when you drive out-of-state could help you prepare in advance to ensure you’re fully protected while on the road.

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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 nonfault 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.

Does car insurance cover college students out of state?

Whether or not car insurance covers college students attending school out-of-state will depend on that state’s regulations. Whether the student’s primary residence continues to remain their parents’ home, and whether they return home during school breaks, also matters. Some states may allow car insurance companies to insure students who are out-of-state, while others may only require students to inform the local police department.

It is possible that you will need to purchase a separate policy as a student if you live out of state year round, without going home over break, and own your own car. Consider contacting your insurance provider to make sure you are properly insured based on your situation and state’s requirements.

Can you insure a car in a state other than where you live?

Although you generally cannot have car insurance in one state while your vehicle is registered in another, there are some exceptions to having out-of-state auto insurance. In some cases, however, it may be possible to insure a car in a state other than where your primary residence is.

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 motor vehicle commission (MVC) or an agent from your insurance company to make sure you are complying with state law and are fully covered.

Many drivers may split time between states due to having a vacation home. If one home is used as your getaway and the other is where you live and work, then those factors will most likely be used to determine what insurance you need.

Time is also 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. If you plan on having two cars — one at each residence — then you will likely need to insure each car in its respective state.

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.

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