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Traveling with Car Insurance

Most states require you to have car insurance if you plan on registering and driving your car in the state, and each state has specific minimum limits for car insurance.

So what happens when you drive across state lines? Do you have to meet that state’s car insurance requirements? What happens if you get in an accident in another state?

We’ll review how car insurance works as you travel from state to state, or even as you make a permanent move.  

Out-of-State Car Insurance

The good news is, if you travel out of state in your car, you should be just fine with your home state car insurance coverage.

Most car insurance companies will extend your coverage to any U.S. state. In fact, most U.S. car insurance companies will continue to cover your car if you are driving it in Canada.

For questions about traveling temporarily out of state, speak with your agent.

NOTE: Your car insurance isn’t likely to extend out and abroad to other countries, including Mexico. If you have any questions about how far your coverage extends, speak with your auto insurance agent.

Moving

You should also keep in mind that while your car insurance company offers you coverage as you travel with your car in another state, they will not provide the same coverage if you are permanently moving to that state.

If you are moving, you’ll need to purchase a new policy. If you are happy with your current car insurance carrier, check in with them before your move. They may be able to provide you with a new car insurance policy for your new state, making the transition fairly easy.

If your current car insurance company does not write policies for your new state, now is a good time to do some comparison-shopping. Remember, when getting car insurance quotes, you will want to compare at least 3 quotes to ensure you get the best policy at the best price.

Out-Of-State Car Accidents

Road trips can be lots of fun, but as with any other time you are behind the wheel, you do run the risk of causing an accident. Add the fact that you are probably driving on unfamiliar roads, and your risk for getting into a car crash increases.

When this happens, it’s easy to be confused about how your car insurance will pay for an accident caused out of state.

First, remember that if you cause an accident in any state – even in the rare states that do not require you to have car insurance – you will be held financially responsible for any injuries or property damages suffered by others. These are covered by your liability car insurance coverages.

As mentioned earlier, each state has its own liability car insurance minimum limits requirements. However, these limits can amend to the state you are traveling in.

Coverage Limit Adjustments

In most cases, your auto insurance will actually rise to meet the minimum limits of the state you are currently in (if that state’s minimum limits are higher).

This can be confusing, so let’s take a look at an example.

Example:

Say you hold your state’s minimum limit of $25,000 liability bodily injury insurance.

If you drive to a state where the minimum is $30,000 and get into an accident, your policy will change to $30,000 while in that state (at no additional cost).

If the state’s limits are lower, your limits will not change.

Additionally, if that state required a certain type of coverage you don’t hold, such as personal injury protection (PIP insurance), your insurance company will likely extend that coverage to you temporarily.

This means you can rest easy knowing you’re covered as you enjoy your vacation! If you have any questions about how your car insurance coverage works in various locations, your agent should be able to go through all of the details with you.

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