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Is my auto insurance valid abroad?

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The lowdown...
  • In general, American auto insurance doesn’t provide coverage when you travel abroad
  • Insurance laws are different in every country
  • You are usually covered under your own insurance when you drive into Canada
  • When going to Mexico, you’ll need to purchase additional Mexican coverage
  • One option when traveling abroad is to buy insurance from the car rental agency. You can also look into additional riders to your personal policy
When planning for travel, you may think about a number of forms of transportation: planes, trains, ships and buses to your destination. It can be even easier to enjoy overseas travel with a rental car.

Overseas travel can enrich your life with cultural and social experiences that broaden your outlook or simply connect you with school, family or business activities. Either way, when you’re thinking about travel, there can be a number of planning considerations to keep in mind, from booking your accommodations to planning for travel health insurance.

One aspect that’s also important to ensure your safety is your auto insurance coverage. As a tourist, having your own car to drive can help you move quickly from place to place. And with easy access to auto rental outlets, often run by international chains, it can be easy to obtain your own transportation anywhere in the world.

However, you generally won’t be covered by your local auto insurance back home in the United States while traveling abroad. There are exceptions when crossing the border, Canada, where your American car insurance applies, is a major example.

It’s important to know exactly what your car insurance covers when traveling abroad and when driving at home. When choosing an auto insurance policy, you can save by comparing prices and shopping around online for the best value for your car insurance needs.

Learn more about car insurance abroad below and make sure to use our free comparison tool above!

Does my car insurance protect me out of state?

AdobeStock_52734917-1600x1600Some level of car insurance is mandatory in almost every state in the nation. Wherever you live in the United States, you must have car insurance in the state where you’ve registered your car. In order to ensure you’re protected financially and legally, your car insurance must be purchased where your car is registered.

However, that doesn’t limit your coverage. Whether you’re just crossing the state line, live in a busy tri-state or metro area that includes several states or are taking a cross-country road trip, your car insurance protects your car wherever you drive in the United States.

Sometimes there may be coverage changes across state lines with basic liability coverage, but you will remain protected by car insurance. In many cases, your basic coverage may actually increase if you enter a state with a higher minimum liability amount.

This only applies to your liability insurance for other drivers’ property damage or personal injuries, however.

In order to ensure you get the coverage level you need at the best price, you can shop around to compare auto insurance options. Online comparison can help you to choose the right car insurance to keep you protected.

What about visiting Canada?

When you drive to Canada from the United States, in general, your existing insurance coverage will remain in place. This applies when you drive into Canada in your covered car.

Canadian insurance laws are very similar to those in the United States and are generally reciprocal. Canadian drivers can also enter the U.S. without needing to buy special insurance. You can obtain a certificate from your car insurer to present to border officials if requested. This can also be important in case you do have a collision inside Canada.

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Does my car insurance apply when visiting Mexico?

The situation is a bit different if you’re heading south of the border instead. Some car insurers offer coverage for physical damage to your vehicle only up to 50 miles into Mexico, depending on location. Some other optional policies could extend your coverage elsewhere in Mexico.

However, this kind of coverage won’t cover damage to other drivers or vehicles if you have an accident in Mexico. It is very important to supplement your own car insurance with a Mexican liability policy.

When you’re planning to travel to Mexico by car, you have a mandatory obligation to buy liability insurance that covers up to 50,000 pesos worth of damage. These policies can be purchased online or in person at the border. This is a very small amount of liability coverage, and you may wish to expand your limits by purchasing additional coverage to a minimum of $25,000 U.S. dollars.

If you have a car insurance in Mexico and don’t buy Mexican liability insurance, you could be jailed or fined if you have a car accident. More expansive insurance options are also available, including coverage for legal help, civil liability, towing and roadside assistance and medical expenses.

If you’re planning to go beyond the area of the country known as the Free Zone or the Hassle Free Vehicle Zone, stretching some 12 miles past the U.S. border across the country but to a greater depth in specific areas, you must also complete a temporary import permit for your vehicle. This could also require a security deposit.

What about my rental car when traveling abroad?

adobestock_83147135-1600x1600Your usual personal car insurance will not cover you if you’re renting a car overseas. You’ll want to make sure you have the necessary requirements to rent a car in your destination country.

In some cases, you may need an International Driving Permit, which you can obtain before you leave the United States. In other cases, your U.S. driver’s license will work just fine to secure your car rental.

Your U.S. car insurance could potentially cover a rental vehicle inside the United States but generally will not cover international rentals. There are a few options to make sure you’re insured when driving internationally.

You may have insurance via your credit card if you use it to pay for the rental. This insurance can be limited, and it’s important for you to check the terms and conditions with your credit card issuer to make sure you have full coverage overseas.

However, if you need more protection, you can usually buy the insurance you need from the car rental agency. Inside the United States, many drivers reject these optional insurance purchases as they already have coverage via their credit cards or car insurance policies.

Some types of insurance you can buy from a car rental company include:

  • Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) – This type of waiver policy pays to repair a rental car if you damage the rental due to a collision.
  • Supplemental Liability Coverage – This insurance will provide liability coverage for personal injury or property damage to others in an accident with the rental car.
  • Personal Accident Insurance – This coverage provides insurance for your own medical bills in case of a collision.
  • Personal Effects Coverage – This protects your belongings in case they are damaged or stolen.

If you choose not to buy insurance from the rental car company, it’s important to ensure you have other insurance arranged, whether through an online purchase or your credit card. You can also contact your own car insurer about purchasing a supplemental option, if available, for international coverage.

You can compare the options available when considering a car insurance purchase by shopping online for auto insurance. One thing you can look at is the option for the purchase of supplemental insurance when you travel internationally.

When you comparison shop online, you can examine the options presented by different car insurance companies to make sure you choose the value and coverage choices that meet your needs.

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