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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 supersede 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.
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?
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.
Learn more: Best car insurance for young adults
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.
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.
Applying for car insurance in a state that is not your primary residence can create issues with your insurance provider. Not only can this increase your risk of not having a claim paid, but it may be perceived as insurance fraud. If you have residences in two states, you may be able to insure your vehicle where it is primarily garaged.
You have a few different options when it comes to buying car insurance while moving to another state. Many carriers offer policies nationwide, so you may be able to transfer your policy to a local agent, who will then help process the change and answer any questions you might have. If your carrier isn’t available in the state you’re moving to, or if you want to purchase a policy with a new company, you can start the shopping process online or over the phone. Before you start that process, you’ll need to have your new address on hand.
There is not one cheapest car insurance company for every driver. Insurance rates will vary depending on a number of things, including your driving history, car make and model, coverage needs and other factors. However, Bankrate’s review of top carriers by market share revealed Geico, USAA and Erie Insurance are among the cheapest car insurance providers in 2023.
An analysis by Bankrate’s insurance editorial team found the states with the cheapest average full coverage car insurance rates in 2023 include Maine ($941), Vermont ($1,061) and Idaho ($1,133). Keep in mind that while location matters when it comes to insurance premiums, it’s not the only consideration. Rates vary widely depending on several factors like your coverage needs, driving record, age and more. A younger driver with several speeding tickets in Ohio (where insurance is typically cheap) could pay more than an older driver with a clean record in Louisiana (where insurance is typically expensive).
Per premium data obtained from Quadrant Information Services, Bankrate identified Florida ($3,183), New York ($3,139) and Louisiana ($2,909) as the most expensive states to insure your car in 2023. However, actual rates will vary based on a driver’s individual profile, including their age, sex, driving record, vehicle and more.