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Overseas Auto Insurance

When you are organizing a trip outside of the United States and planning to drive a vehicle, there are a few items you need to consider. Besides making sure that you understand both the traffic laws and driving customs that may be unfamiliar to you, you also need to be sure that you make the necessary preparations to drive legally in your destination.

Finally, you need to look into car insurance for your rental so that you are covered in case you should have an accident or another incident while overseas.

International Driving Permit

Many countries will recognize your U.S. driver’s license, but some will not. They may, however, accept an international driving permit, or IDP. An IDP is a translation of your driver’s license in 10 languages and is honored by many foreign governments.

You can obtain an IDP by submitting your application along with the following to the American Automobile Association (AAA) or the National Automobile Club (NAC).

  • Your payment.
    • Fees will be listed on your application.
  • 2 photos (passport-sized).
  • A photocopy of the front and back of your driver’s license.

The IDP is valid for 1 year from the issue date and may only be used in combination with your driver’s license. You must be at least 18 years old to apply.

For more information on IDPs, visit our International Driving Permits page.

Does Your U.S. Car Insurance Policy Cover Overseas Rentals?

The only way to be sure whether your U.S. car insurance policy covers overseas rentals is to contact your car insurance company and ask.

Often, U.S. policies do not apply when you travel overseas; however, they may apply when you travel to the bordering countries of Canada and Mexico.

If international car insurance is required, your current auto insurance agent may be able to help you get a policy for your time abroad – through a sister company, for example.

When Should You Consider International Insurance?

You should consider purchasing international insurance when neither your U.S. car insurance coverage nor your credit card (see below) covers you in your destination country.

A good rule of thumb is to purchase international insurance that provides the same level of coverage as you have at home.

Again, speaking with your auto insurance agent can help you sort out the details of coverage you need while traveling.

Credit Card Coverage for International Rentals

Major credit card companies often provide coverage for rental cars if you reserve your rental car with your credit card. This coverage sometimes applies to international rentals.

Before you go on your trip, however, don’t make assumptions about the rental car insurance coverage the card provides. Contact your credit card company to get specific details about your coverage. Particularly, make sure to find out:

  • Whether the policy applies in the country you are traveling to.
  • If it includes liability, collision, and comprehensive coverage.
  • The coverage limits.
  • Whether you need to pay an additional fee for this coverage.

International auto insurance from credit card companies may officially be secondary insurance, which means that it applies after your primary insurance kicks in. However, if your credit card insurance is your only car insurance while you are abroad, it may, in effect, act as your primary insurance.

Finding International Car Insurance

Start your search for international car insurance by contacting your current car insurance company, as well as your credit card company, to find out what coverage you already have.

If your regular policy is not good overseas, ask your car insurance company about options for international insurance in your destination country.

You can also contact the rental car company to find out what they offer, but be sure to read the fine print and only select a policy if it does not duplicate coverage you already have.

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