One can buy U.S. car insurance with a UK driver’s license. However, it can take time to find the best policy and one should plan ahead. Here's how to make sure one is covered with auto insurance before they arrive.
HERE'S WHAT ONE NEEDS TO KNOW
Though not all insurance companies offer car insurance for foreign drivers, many do, especially larger companies. If one plans to move to the U.S. from the UK for school or study abroad on a somewhat long-term basis, they will need auto insurance to drive legally. Regardless of their goals for coming to the U.S., it is important that they understand the country’s auto insurance laws and how to obtain UK student car insurance.
How To Find Car Insurance for UK Drivers in the USA
Finding car insurance for international drivers with a visa in the U.S. is difficult, but not much more so than getting comprehensive coverage as a local citizen or resident. Shopping around for car insurance is a somewhat complex and lengthy process in and of itself. Before deciding on a policy, regardless of one’s situation, they must do their homework by comparing rates and shopping for discounts.
The only difference between their car insurance shopping process and that of a U.S. citizen is that they have slightly fewer options available to them. This is because many auto insurance companies cater strictly to low-risk drivers.
For a driver to obtain a “low-risk” designation, he or she must present a valid U.S. driver’s license for the state in which he or she plans to drive. Drivers must also demonstrate their ability to drive safely and follow the rules of the road. Unfortunately, drivers with UK licenses struggle to prove either experience or knowledge. As a result, most drivers with UK licenses can’t obtain low-risk designations.
There are several companies that issue policies for all types of drivers. As an international driver, it may be worth your while to shop around with these companies. Though one cannot know for sure which companies offer high-risk auto insurance, the best thing one can do is call a company and ask. Larger companies, such as Progressive, State Farm, and GEICO, are typically willing to assume more risk than their smaller counterparts.
Can one use the UK driving record to obtain a low-risk designation?
Unfortunately, it does not matter how great of a driver one is in the UK — if they don’t have a valid U.S. driver’s license, most insurers consider them inexperienced and, therefore, high risk. A high-risk designation makes it difficult for one to obtain coverage. If one can find coverage, they will likely have to pay the high-risk driver surcharge.
Getting Insurance on a Rental Car as an International Driver
Finding coverage as an international driver may be a non-issue if one plans to rent a car in the U.S. One can rent a car without insurance if they purchase insurance from the rental company. Most rental car companies provide coverage up to the minimum amounts required by the state. These companies also allow drivers to purchase additional insurance for added protection.
If one plans to visit the U.S. for a short period of time, rental car coverage may be all they need. However, bear in mind that most state minimums cover only the cost of damage that one causes to another person’s vehicle. If they cause an accident, they may have to pay for the repair or replacement costs of the rental car. For this reason, they should consider purchasing additional coverage if they plan to be in the U.S. for an extended period.
Obtaining UK Student Car Insurance
As an international student in the U.S., one’s options for obtaining car insurance are more or less the same as non-students. They must find an insurer that is willing to cover a “high-risk” driver. They probably won’t be able to use their driving experience in their home country to obtain cheaper rates.
Unfortunately, as a student, their path to car insurance may be a bit more difficult. Some car insurance companies require international students to have three years of driving experience in the U.S. before they will cover them.
As an international student, they do have one advantage over non-students. Their Designated School Official can provide them with a list of car insurance companies that cater to international drivers and maintain more lenient requirements.
Does one need car insurance as a UK driver in the USA?
Though car insurance requirements vary by state, the fact is that all but two states require drivers to maintain a minimum amount of coverage. If a police officer catches one driving without the minimum coverage, they face fines, license suspension, and possible jail time.
There are two states that don’t maintain minimum coverage requirements: Virginia and New Hampshire. However, one must obtain an insurance waiver, which they can only do once they present proof of financial responsibility. In other words, they must demonstrate that they can pay up to a certain amount in damages that they may cause in an accident. Moreover, they may also have to pay an uninsured vehicle fee.
Does one need a U.S. license to obtain car insurance?
One doesn’t necessarily need a U.S. driver’s license to obtain coverage in the U.S. However, to legally drive in there, they need an International Driver’s Permit. They must obtain the IDP from the country that issued their driver’s license before they arrive in America, as the U.S. does not issue them.
Obtaining an IDP is fairly easy. One needs to be at least 18 and have a valid driver’s license from their home country.
Car Insurance for UK Drivers in the USA: The Bottom Line
Finding car insurance as an international driver takes a bit more time and effort than if one already has a U.S. driver’s license. However, when one is armed with the right knowledge and resources, they can find affordable coverage in no time.
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