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Do tourists need car insurance in USA?

Insurance regulations in the United States are complex and change from state to state. Every state requires that drivers carry insurance when driving in the state. Tourists driving on vacation in the USA need to be aware of the ramifications of insurance law before they leave. Start comparing car insurance rates now by using our FREE tool below!

If Your Legal Residence is in the United States

Consult your own automobile insurance carrier to determine if your insurance applies to a rental vehicle or one that you borrow from a friend or relative. Liability insurance usually follows the person purchasing the insurance but physical damage coverage on the vehicle itself stays with the individual vehicle. Below are several ways of obtaining vehicle insurance for a rental or loaner vehicle:

  • Rely on liability insurance from your own automobile policy.
  • Some credit cards offer insurance on rental vehicles as one of their benefits
  • Physical damage coverage for the vehicle itself may be purchased from the rental agency
  • Request that the friend or family member you are borrowing the car from, add you as a driver to their insurance policy for a specific vehicle
  • Purchase a short-term insurance policy to provide liability and physical damage coverage for you in another state.

Foreign Nationals Driving in the United States

Individuals driving in the United States must have a valid drivers’ license. Since each state has differing regulations, contact that state’s motor vehicle department to ascertain its requirements. An International Driving Permit (IDP) is often required in addition to a valid license from your own country to acquire a drivers’ license from the state.

The United States does not issue International Driving Permit for non-residents, so it is necessary to contact that country’s drivers’ license issuing entity or the motoring association.

Renting a vehicle in the United States requires a driving license, so you need to go through the process of obtaining a temporary license in the state(s) you plan to visit. One driving license from one state will ordinarily be enough for your entire visit.

Insurance for Foreign Nationals Driving in the United States

Things to do to acquire insurance in the USA:

  • Learn driving rules in the United States. Any Department of Motor Vehicles can offer you information.
  • An International Driving Permit is required as well as a license from your country of residence. If available, acquire an International Drivers’ License from your country of origin.
  • Look online for insurance companies who specialize in insurance for foreigners.
  • Contact insurance companies and collect information and quotations on the cost of this insurance.

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Shopping for Insurance in the United States

Costs of insurance vary a great deal from company to company. It is possible to save up to 17 percent in insurance premiums by shopping.

  • Tell three or more of the insurance companies you found online the requirements you have for auto insurance.
  • Obtain a quotation from each of the companies chosen
  • Check to make certain that the insurance company is licensed in the state you wish to visit. Contacting the state Insurance Department for that state will give you that information.
  • Examine the insurance companies’ financial rating and complaint information by contacting National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
  • Other rating sites are: A.M.Best and Standard and Poors.

Insurance Coverage Needed to Protect Yourself

Each state has its own laws for limits of liability required. Go through this checklist and it will allow you to determine what coverage you need:

  • Bodily injury liability – Coverage for your legal liability should you be responsible for an accident. Limits of liability recommended are $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident.
  • Property damage liability – Coverage for legal liability for property damage to others if you are responsible for an accident. Fifty thousand dollars is the recommended limit for this type of coverage.
  • Underinsured and uninsured motorist’s coverage – This pays for injury to you and your passengers if an accident involving someone without insurance occurs, this protects you. Most people are responsible, but up to 12 percent of individuals do not purchase this insurance. Limits for this coverage are the same as that purchased for bodily injury liability.

Physical Damage Protection

Physical damage coverage for the vehicle you are driving is necessary to protect you from damage. This coverage consists of:

  1. Comprehensive insurance – covers wind, hail, flood, theft, glass damage, vandalism, and animal damage, among other things, but only for the vehicle you are renting. A deductible applies to this coverage.
  2. Collision insurance – covers damage to the rental vehicle in the event of collision with another car or running into another object should be purchased. A deductible applies to this coverage.

Rental companies will offer physical damage coverage for the vehicle you are renting. Read the contract carefully to determine the extent of this coverage. It may save money to shop with different rental agencies and ask for the price of this coverage.

If you are a citizen of the United States, it is relatively easy to acquire insurance that will cover your responsibilities when driving in another state. Foreign nationals and individuals living within the parameters of a visa need to acquire a valid drivers license in the state. Start comparing car insurance rates now by entering your zip code in our FREE tool below!

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