January 3, 2012

How State Auto Insurance Laws Affect International Drivers

International drivers often worry about state auto insurance laws when visiting the United States. Keeping reliable auto insurance coverage is important in the U.S. and most states have strict auto insurance requirements. Driving without any type of insurance can lead to stiff penalties. Fortunately, it's fairly easy for international drivers to stay on the road, although requirements for international drivers will vary depending on the length of time that they're staying in the United States and the auto insurance coverage requirements of individual states.

When an international driver is just visiting, state auto insurance laws won't have a tremendous effect on his or her ability to drive, although it's best to check with a state DMV before getting on the road. Drivers should also check with their insurance providers to make sure that their coverage will work in the United States. They'll also need to get an International Driver's Permit (IDP), which they'll need to carry at all times in addition to their state-issued driver's licenses. Both an IDP and a valid driver's license are required in most states, and if a foreign driver is pulled over in the United States, the police officer will ask to see both.

State residency laws can affect an international driver's ability to get an official license when residing in the United States, as residency requirements vary. An international driver residing in the United States will need to carry appropriate insurance in line with his or her state auto insurance requirements, however. To find state auto insurance requirements, drivers can visit or call their state DMV. Most states require liability coverage, although several no-fault states require personal injury protection and other specific types of coverage. It's important to note that state insurance requirements are usually set very low, so many international drivers opt for policies with high coverage limits. Another important thing to consider is policy deductibles. States don't set limits on deductibles, but all drivers should choose insurance deductibles that will be affordable after a major accident.

Traveling international drivers should contact their countries' travel bureaus for more information about International Driver's Permits and their state DMVs for license residency requirements. Before purchasing an insurance policy, international drivers should also think carefully about how much auto insurance coverage they need. Comparing rates online can be a great way to keep costs low, as car insurance companies charge very different rates for different drivers depending on driving history, insurance history, location and a number of other factors. By understanding car insurance requirements and by choosing appropriate insurance, international drivers can safely operate vehicles on U.S. roads with peace of mind.