If you want to buy a car in the United States, you’ll also need auto insurance to drive legally. You might be curious about the different types of car insurance, the basic minimum auto insurance coverage you require, how much car insurance in the United States costs, how to purchase car insurance as an expat or foreigner, how to get discounts on your auto insurance rates, and how it all works in general.
There’s a lot to know about obtaining automobile insurance as an Australian expat in the United States. There are a lot of variations between buying auto insurance in Australia and buying auto insurance in the United States. So we’ve put together a list of everything you need to know about obtaining vehicle insurance in the United States. Take out your paper and pen, sit back, and read on!
Is it necessary for me to have a driver’s license in the United States to get auto insurance?
In a broad sense? Yes.
Residency, State Laws, and Driver’s Licenses:
That’s because each state has its own rules on whether or not you need a US driver’s license to drive, insure, and register your car legally. As a result, you should check with the motor vehicle departments of each state where you plan to go for unique requirements.
Many states, for example, require you to get a US driver’s license within a specified time limit after becoming a resident of that state. In New York, for example, you must obtain a New York State license within 30 days after moving in. You may also receive a driver’s license in New York without a social security number.
Limitations on Auto Insurance Without a US Driver’s License:
Even if you’ve done your homework and aren’t legally needed to obtain a driver’s license in the United States, be aware that certain insurance companies may refuse to provide you with coverage if you don’t have one. They can’t check your driving record and aren’t ready to take a chance on an unknown danger. It also implies that the insurers who will sell you coverage will charge you a significantly higher price.
Also, if you’re thinking about acquiring an international driver’s license to visit or work in the US, you probably don’t need one–and here’s why.
Consequences of Violations of Driver’s License Laws include:
Finally, be aware that just because someone you know has vehicle insurance without a valid driver’s license in the United States does not indicate they are legally compliant for the reasons stated above. If they have an accident, it’s possible that their insurance won’t cover them, and they will be held accountable for any damages. Because the insurance claims procedure includes an assessment of the drivers’ legal compliance, this is the case. As a result, failing to follow any portion of the legislation on the road might lead to a claim being refused.
This means it’s up to you to make sure you meet the requirements for a US driver’s license. Here’s where you can learn how to acquire a New York driver’s license. Alternatively, contact your local DMV for further information if you live in another state.
What Are the Fundamentals of Auto Insurance?
To begin, vehicle insurance regulations differ by state, which you may learn more about further down.
Second, to register your vehicle, you must get auto insurance.
Most auto insurance policies are quoted and sold for six months. In contrast, automobile insurance in Australia is often offered and sold as a 12-month policy. So remember that when you’re comparing prices!
Finally, store your insurance card in the glove box of your automobile. If the police stop you, you can be requested to display it, and if you’re involved in an accident, you’ll need it to exchange insurance information with the other parties.
What Are the Differences in Auto Insurance Laws Between States?
The minimum vehicle insurance requirements vary by state and the types and amounts of coverage required.
In most states, basic auto liability insurance is required. This is the bare minimum of auto insurance needed to drive lawfully. When you are the at-fault driver, it usually involves damage to another car or property and bodily injury to another person. The state-mandated minimum degree of coverage varies as well.
In addition, several jurisdictions require you to get additional insurance, such as uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.
Furthermore, if you bought your car with a loan, your lender may require you to purchase comprehensive auto insurance as a condition of the loan.
Finally, for peace of mind, you may acquire other forms of vehicle insurance and additional coverage above the needed minimums.
What Kinds of Automobile Insurance Can I Purchase?
The following are some of the most frequent forms of automobile insurance:
Automobile Liability Insurance
There are two types of liability automobile insurance:
Protection from bodily injury liability (BI):
This also applies to medical bills for harmed parties if you are at fault. It’s akin to Compulsory Third Party (CTP) or Green Slip insurance, which we have in Australia.
Protection against Property Damage Liability (PDL):
This also applies to property damage to cars or property other than a vehicle if you’re at fault. For example, it might damage the opposing party’s automobile or a fence. It’s akin to third-party property insurance, which we have in Australia.
PIP (Personal Injury Protection):
Some jurisdictions mandate you to take out PIP, which covers medical care for the driver and passengers in the policyholder’s vehicle, as well as lost income and burial expenses.
If you, a member of your family, or a designated driver, are injured due to a hit-and-run or uninsured motorist, this coverage protects you. It also covers you if you are struck while walking. In general, it covers both personal harm and property damage. However, it would help if you verified your state’s regulations as well as the specifics of your insurance.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM)
This is similar to UM in that it applies when the other driver’s insurance coverage is insufficient to pay the entire cost of your losses.
Coverage for Collisions:
This sort of auto insurance protects your vehicle from damage caused by a collision with another car, an item, rolling over, or potholes. It’s usually marketed with a deductible that applies to any claims you make if you’re at fault.
Coverage Is Complete:
This sort of automobile insurance covers theft and vehicle damage caused by something other than an accident, such as a hailstorm or colliding with an animal. Furthermore, some plans cover windshield damage. A deductible is frequently included in the price.
What is the bare minimum in terms of car insurance type and coverage?
Liability Insurance (BI and PD) is required in most states, while the minimum liability limits vary by state. Additional insurance is also necessary for some states, like UM and UIM. So, if you’re looking for the minimum standards for each state, go here:
Limits of Liability Insurance:
The BI per person/BI per accident/PD per accident is the minimum liability limit.
It can be written as a whole number: 25,000/50,000/10,000, or as a fraction: 25/50/10.
For example, if the minimum liability limit is 25/50/10, your vehicle insurance policy must have coverage for the following:
- BI of $25,000 per person
- Per accident, the total BI is $50,000.
- Per accident, the PD is $10,000.
The first two figures (25/50) indicate that if two persons are wounded, the policy will pay a further $25,000 in BI following the first.
State-by-State Comparison of Minimum Liability:
Let’s look at the minimal vehicle insurance requirements in three states:
By law, you must have BI & PD, PIP, UM, and UIM coverage in New York, with a minimum BI & PD coverage of 25/50/10 and wrongful death coverage of 50/100.
However, in California, you must have BI and PD liability insurance with a minimum coverage of 15/30/5 and low-cost policy limitations for low-income drivers under the California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan.
Finally, in New Hampshire, you need FR (financial responsibility) at the other end of the scale, which means you don’t need insurance and must instead prove you have “sufficient cash” to cover the expense of an at-fault collision.
What additional auto insurance coverage do I need if I have a car loan?
If you acquired your vehicle with a personal loan, your lender might require collision and comprehensive insurance as part of the loan conditions. If the automobile is damaged in an accident, this protects both you and the lender from financial damages.
If you got a personal loan to buy your car from a dealer or a third-party lender, they should have told you the insurance needs to meet the loan terms.
How much more auto insurance coverage do I need?
In addition to the state-mandated minimum vehicle insurance liability (and lender requirements if you have a car loan), you can purchase other types of coverage and extend your coverage limits above the minimum.
This depends entirely on your unique circumstances and the price you are ready to pay for peace of mind.
Consider the following example:
What is the age of your vehicle? The rule of thumb is that if full coverage costs more than 10% of your car’s “blue book” value, collision or comprehensive coverage is generally not worth it.
In the case of an accident, how much money do you need to save to pay for costly automobile repairs or to replace them entirely?
Whether or whether you have health insurance, and if so, what kind of coverage you have.
The danger of financial losses in the case of an accident vs. your degree of comfort with paying upfront insurance premiums.
The Last Word on Expats and Foreigners Purchasing Auto Insurance in the United States
When it comes to vehicle insurance, there’s a lot to consider. If you want to learn more about the basics of getting vehicle insurance in the United States, the Insurance Information Institute provides some helpful resources.
Buying vehicle insurance in the United States as an expat may appear too expensive. But, in the end, it’s meant to provide drivers and passengers peace of mind in the case of an accident.
So vehicle insurance is one of those things that you won’t realize how beneficial it is until you need it. Hopefully, you will not. Everyone drive safely!