You don't have to be a U.S. citizen to get auto insurance coverage in the country. In fact, whether you are a foreigner or not, you need auto insurance before driving in the U.S. Here are three things you need to know before buying auto insurance.
You May Not Need Comprehensive Insurance
Comprehensive insurance coverage protects your car from all damages other than collision. This is what you will use to repair or replace your car if fire damages it, vandals destroy it or it thieves steal it. Comprehensive coverage doesn't come cheap due to the wide range of risks it protects you from. Therefore, it only makes financial sense to buy comprehensive coverage for expensive cars.
However, many foreigners who buy cars for temporary use in the U.S. just need a vehicle to get them from point A to B, which usually translates to cheap cars. Therefore, if you are one of those people, it may be wise to avoid comprehensive coverage and stick to the government-mandated coverage.
You Need the Right Driver's License to Buy Coverage
Almost all insurance carriers will need to verify your driver's license before selling you coverage. Preferably, this should be a driver's license issued by the United States government, but an international driver's license may also work. The requirements vary by insurer, so you need to do your research to find out which carriers will accommodate your international driver's license. Note that if you are using an international driver's license, you must have applied for it in your home country; you cannot apply for the license once you are in the U.S. and use it to buy auto insurance.
You May Have To Pay Slightly Higher Rates
Lastly, if you have just landed in the country, expect your auto insurance premiums to be slightly higher than those who have been in the country for a long time. This is because auto insurance companies use driving history and credit scores to determine premiums, two things that you may not have if you have just come from another country. It will take you time to build your credit and generate a driving history in the country, and that is when your rates may come down.
Ideally, you should think about buying auto insurance in the U.S. before setting foot in the country. This will help you remember to carry (or get) all the documents you might need, such as your international driver's license. Once you are in the country, liaise with an insurance agent to help you determine and buy the right coverage. Contact a business, such as Family Insurance Centers, for more information.