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Can you buy car insurance for UK drivers in USA?

Here's what you need to know...

  • Your UK Driver License will be acceptable for a limited period of time in the US
  • You must have car insurance to buy a vehicle in the US or you’ll be ticketed and fined
  • Some insurers may require applicants to hold a US license but others will insure applicants with a foreign license if it’s been transcribed in English
  • If you’re using a UK license, you won’t be eligible for a claims-free discount
  • Insurance companies often charge policyholders a higher rate because they aren’t given credit for their experience

If you’re relocating to the United States, it’s important to plan ahead so that you’re prepared to drive as soon as you hit the states. In some cases, individuals who’re planning ahead for a relocation will actually buy a domestic car before they’ve officially become a resident or permanently settled in. When this happens, the soon-to-be US citizen will need to purchase insurance to protect their asset even though they don’t yet have a U.S. driver license.

Insuring a vehicle in the U.S. when you have nothing but a UK license might cost you more, but it’s definitely possible. While not all companies will extend coverage to drivers with an international license, there are still reputable carriers that are financially stable and customer service oriented that will insure policyholders driving on their UK licenses. It’s your job as a consumer to shop the market to find good rates and fair policy terms. Start comparing car insurance rates now by using our FREE tool above!

Before you automatically assume that securing coverage will be easy, you should learn how your foreign license can affect you and what you can do to keep your premiums as low as possible. Here’s your guide to buying car insurance with a UK license so that you can navigate the process as smoothly as possible:

Can you legally drive in the US with your UK License?

You are legally required to have a valid driver license to drive a vehicle in the US, but that license doesn’t necessarily need to be issued in the country. Short-term visitors may be required to apply for an International Driving Permit through authorities in their home country if they plan on renting a car. This is more of a car rental law rather than a driving law.

It’s perfectly legal for foreign nationals who are planning a short-term visit to drive on their license from the country of origin as long as it’s dictated in English.

The rules are different if you’re driving in the US as a resident and non-citizen. Before you can actually transfer your license from the UK to the US, you’ll need to satisfy the state’s residency requirements. This is a primary reason why some new residents wait to get a domestic license and must find car insurance with their international privilege.

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How to Find Insurers That Offer Coverage for International Drivers

Every insurance company sets their own unique underwriting guidelines. Before you can get a policy issued through that carrier, you must beat the eligibility requirements. Companies that prefer to do business with low-risk drivers may require that all drivers on a policy have a license issued within the states and a stated amount of driving experience. If the company has strict requirements, you’ll probably be turned away the moment the you state you currently have a UK license.

If you want to find companies with fair underwriting rules as they pertain to international drivers, you can use other experiences to your advantage. Ask friends who’ve moved to the US in the past if they’ve driven on your UK license. If they’ve done the leg work, you may have a good starting point to get quotes. You may even want to discuss your options with motoring associations who are affiliated with several companies so that they can recommend carriers to you.

What You Need to Know About Your Claims-free Discount

In the UK, you’ll receive no-claims discounts and bonuses (NCD) if you’ve gone years without any incidents behind the wheel. Since the NCD discount will slash premiums for each year that you’ve gone without incident, it’s possible to save up to 40% off of your policy after just one year of being claims-free and an additional 10% for every year thereafter.

If you’ve stayed with a UK company for years and you’ve been claims-free for 3 or more years, your premiums will be very competitive.

Unfortunately, US companies won’t typically offer you those same claims-free discounts because you don’t have a domestic license. When you’re eligible for your license in the states, the clock will start ticking and you’ll begin to accrue claims free discounts.

In some rare instances, you might be able to find a specialty company that will consider your driving history from the UK and factor it in when calculating premiums. Unfortunately, most companies only use US driving experience to apply claims-free and accident-free discounts. You should compare the discounts each insurer offers to see if you can balance out premiums with other savings. Here are some of the most common discounts offered today:

Will you receive credit for your experience?

In the United States, premiums are very strongly based on how much experience you have behind the wheel. This is because statistics show that more experienced drivers are more defensive and better equipped to avoid losses. If you’ve been licensed in the UK for 10+ years, you might feel that you have the same experience as a driver in the states.

Unfortunately, without a US license many companies will treat you as an inexperienced operator and assign a high-risk driver surcharge to your premiums. All of the years you’ve been licensed won’t count and you’ll need to build up experience points in the US. It is possible that you could provide a driver abstract to the insurer and they might consider applying the experience credits. Ask the agent if this is a possibility and order your driving report to save hundreds.

The key to find affordable insurance while you still have your UK driver license is to do your homework. You’ll need to ask around and do a lot of quote comparisons. One way to compare quotes effectively is to use an online quoting tool that can help you check rates with dozens of companies. Just be sure you disclose that you have a UK license and then you’ll only be directed to only the auto companies with some sort of foreign license underwriting provision. Start comparing car insurance rates now by entering your zip code in our FREE tool below!

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