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Can you get U.S. car insurance with a Canadian license?

The lowdown...
  • Canadian drivers are welcome to drive on U.S. roadways if they have the proper paperwork
  • If you have a Canadian drivers license, you may legally drive in the U.S. without penalty
  • Make sure you have the right insurance coverage that extends to the U.S. before making the trip
  • If you are renting a car, you may need temporary gap insurance to cover the difference of what a rental company carries

Canada has laws allowing visitors to come and go into Canada with only a birth certificate as proof that you are a U.S. citizen required to enter.

The only province that doesn’t have such reciprocal laws is the province of Quebec which is currently still under the Queen of England’s reign and is an independent region.

All of the other provinces have a reciprocal agreement with the United States which means that what works in one country works in the other, so to speak.

Reciprocal agreements mean that there is an understanding between entities or companies that mutually benefits both. For example, in the business world, there is often a reciprocal agreement between companies or factions of a company.

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What is a reciprocal agreement with insurance?

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You may wonder what a reciprocal agreement is. This simply means that, as long as you have a Canadian license and are a legal citizen of Canada, your drivers’ license is good in the United States.

Likewise, you are entitled to purchasing insurance within the U.S. as long as you can provide identification and the proper credentials to get into the country.

Since your license is considered legal when driving in the U.S., you are entitled to having insurance coverage that is purchased within the U.S.

However, if you have no intentions to stay in the United States except for a short period, all you may need to do is to extend your Canadian car insurance to the United States.

You can inquire as to whether your current company can cover you while in the United States and see what they can do. If your current insurance company has no way to extend your coverage to the U.S., you may want to shop around for another policy.

Remember that any car that drives on the U.S. roadways must be covered by insurance.

Also, insurance law is primarily guided by the states. You should have at least a temporary state of residence that you consider home while in the United States so that you know which state’s regulations you are responsible for.

Border patrol guards are required to check to see if you have valid insurance before entering the country and you must also have a valid international driving license.

An international drivers license allows you to drive in either the U.S. or Canada legally. So, even if you are only staying for a brief period, you should make sure that you have taken the necessary steps to be legal with your licensing and insurance requirements to avoid paying huge fines.

What kind of insurance policy should I get?

The type of insurance that you get when driving in the U.S. will be determined by several factors:

  • Type of Car – The type of insurance that Canadians should get when visiting the U.S. will depend upon the type of car you have, how much insurance you think you might need, and other factors.
  • Ownership of Car – If you own your car, then you will just need to make sure you have ample insurance coverage that extends to the U.S. If you do take out a rental, you may need to take out additional insurance on your current policy.
  • Rental or Permanent – If you have decided to stay in the U.S. for an extended period, you will need permanent insurance. If you are only visiting or have a rental car, that should be used as the standard for the type of insurance you get.
  • Liability Requirements – Make sure you understand the minimum coverage required by the state you call your residence, even if it is temporary. Also, be aware of the state driving laws within each state you are visiting.
  • Gap insurance – You may need to purchase temporary gap insurance if you think the coverage is not enough to cover what you need. Remember that gap insurance only covers the difference between the street value of the rental and the amount owed by the lease company.

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Another Thing About Temporary Insurance

For some, it may seem that getting temporary insurance or gap insurance may be the way to go for a visiting Canadian who is traveling in the U.S.

It could be a possible solution if you only intend to stay for a short visit. But it is your responsibility to make sure you meet the minimum state requirements for insurance coverage and that you get enough coverage to cover any unforeseen situation.

Also, keep in mind that temporary insurance only covers you for a short period (usually around 28 days at the most). So plan accordingly.

If you do intend to stay in the U.S. longer than this period, you will want to shop around for more permanent insurance once you decide what state you will call your permanent residence.

Comprehensive Insurance

Comprehensive insurance is another option that you may want to consider when traveling in the U.S. from Canada. Comprehensive covers a wide variety of situations other than accidents. Some examples of situations that comprehensive insurance covers includes:

  • Fire
  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Falling objects
  • Acts of nature

What is Personal Injury Protection?

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Personal injury protection (PIP) is an optional insurance coverage that covers medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages that may be received from an accident, regardless of fault.

If you have an accident in a no-fault state, this may come in handy when it would not be ruled that the other driver pays, even if it was their fault.

Personal injury protection may also keep you from having to deal with civil liabilities since it would kick in and pay for damages that supersede your normal coverage, in the event someone threatens to sue.

Do Your Homework

The key to being safe while driving in the U.S. if you are from Canada is to do your homework and prepare ahead of time before arriving.

By taking some time to get to know the laws of U.S. driving, getting the proper paperwork in order, and shopping for adequate car insurance before crossing the border, you will save yourself a lot of trouble later on.

Feel free to start by searching our site for options on coverage and if you are a Canadian driver, welcome to the U.S. Let us know how we can help you find the best insurance policy so that, no matter where you drive, you’ll feel secure.

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