Car Insurance for International Students in the USA

The best car insurance for international students can be found by shopping around. You will need to carry at least the legal minimum car insurance limits for the state your school is located in.

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Tonya Sisler has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of South Carolina in Journalism and has worked for 15+ years in management. She has also completed a proofreading certification and is currently a professional writer.

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Brad Larson has been in the insurance industry for more than a dozen years. He started out as a claims adjuster for a national carrier. He has since switched to the agency side of the business. Brad is licensed in all P&C lines.

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Reviewed by Brad Larsen
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Brad Larsen

UPDATED: May 9, 2022

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Things to Know

  • In general, international students can expect to pay more for car insurance since they don’t have a driving record in the U.S.
  • Comparing car insurance rates is critical as not all providers will offer a policy to an international student driver.
  • Your college or university will have a resource center that can help you purchase temporary car insurance for international students.

Many students travel to the United States to further their education at a college or university. But when it comes to car insurance for international students in the USA, what is the process like?

First, you’ll purchase an international driver’s permit or IDP. By carrying an IDP along with your native country’s driver’s license, you will be legally able to drive on American roads. Then you’ll need to invest in an international car insurance policy. 

In most cases, car insurance companies charge international students more for coverage than the average American driver, but it is possible to find cheap car insurance for international students. 

Read through our complete guide to learn exactly how your rates are calculated, and what steps you need to take as an international student to purchase car insurance in the United States. 

Getting Car Insurance for International Students

Securing car insurance for international students in America is easier than you might think. While there are some car insurance providers that won’t sell a policy to you until you’ve driven in the country for three years, the best car insurance for international students can actually be found directly through your college or university. 

How much does car insurance cost for international students? Rates will vary for international students depending on where they will be living in the U.S. as well as the vehicle they will be driving, so comparison shopping is critical to find cheap insurance for international drivers.

However, we gathered the average annual rates people pay for car insurance in America by state and provided it for you in the table below. Find the state where your school is located for an approximation of what insurance might cost you.

Average Annual Car Insurance Rates by State
StateAverage Annual Car Insurance Rates
District of Columbia$1,330.73
New Hampshire$818.75
New Jersey$1,382.79
New Mexico$937.59
New York$1,360.66
North Carolina$789.09
North Dakota$773.30
Rhode Island$1,303.50
South Carolina$973.10
South Dakota$766.91
West Virginia$1,025.78
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Remember, these are average rates meant to be used as guidelines. As an international student, your rates will likely be a bit higher. 

More often than not, the student service center at your school will have everything you need to easily find car insurance coverage as an international student, which is why international students should first check with their university’s international student association when they set out to purchase a car insurance policy. 

Car insurance for a student visa can usually be found through some common channels. Each university or college will provide these resources for international students through an on-campus organization or association. 

Free online resources, like the International Student Organization, are also helpful for foreign students pursuing studies in the U.S. and can help find insurance for foreign students in the USA.

When you’re shopping for car insurance, these organizations will most likely be able to provide you with a list of providers who offer coverage in your area. 

In most cases, your university already has an established dialogue and relationship with the companies on the list, and the providers understand the need for international students to have coverage so that they may legally drive on U.S. roads.

Since these companies are familiar with your situation, they will be more likely to set you up with a policy for a short period of time.

By starting your car insurance shopping at your students’ association, you may be able to find discounts and deals that will save you money down the road.

Read on for more about auto insurance for international students in the USA.

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What are the requirements for international student auto insurance?

When shopping for a car insurance quote as a foreign student, it’s important to understand that each state in America requires residents to carry a different level of car insurance coverage. 

Therefore, the specific requirements for international student car insurance in the USA depends on what state your school is located in. You will be expected to carry at least the minimum legal car insurance limits as denoted by the state.  

To help you better understand American car insurance policy terms and what each kind covers, we’ve created a table with useful terminology and definitions. Check it out below.   

American Car Insurance Abbreviations and Definitions for International Students
BIBodily InjuryCovers bodily injury damage for the other driver in an accident you are found liable for.
PDProperty Damage LiabilityCovers property damage for the other driver in an accident you are found liable for.
PIPPersonal Injury ProtectionCovers your medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages when involved in an accident.
UMUninsured MotoristCovers damages to your vehicle if you are hit by a driver without car insurance.
UIMUnderinsured MotoristCovers damages to your vehicle if you are hit by a driver with an insurance policy that does not meet the state's minimum legal standards.
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Most states require only liability coverage, others will also require uninsured motorist protection or medical payments limits. 

You can see all of the minimum legal car insurance requirements by state in the table below. 

Minimum Legal Car Insurance Requirements for International Students by State
StateMinimum BI & PD Liability LimitsRequired Insurance Policies
Alabama25/50/25BI + PD Liability
Alaska50/100/25BI + PD Liability
Arizona15/30/10BI + PD Liability
Arkansas25/50/25BI + PD Liability, PIP
California15/30/5BI + PD Liability
Colorado25/50/15BI + PD Liability
Connecticut25/50/20BI + PD Liability, UM, UIM
Delaware25/50/10BI + PD Liability, PIP
District of Columbia25/50/10BI + PD Liability, UM
Florida10/20/10BI + PD Liability, PIP
Georgia25/50/25BI + PD Liability
Hawaii20/40/10BI + PD Liability, PIP
Idaho25/50/15BI + PD Liability
Illinois25/50/20BI + PD Liability, UM, UIM
Indiana25/50/25BI + PD Liability
Iowa20/40/15BI + PD Liability
Kansas25/50/25BI + PD Liability, PIP
Kentucky25/50/25BI + PD Liability, PIP, UM, UIM
Louisiana15/30/25BI + PD Liability
Maine50/100/25BI + PD Liability, UM, UIM, Medpay
Maryland30/60/15BI + PD Liability, PIP, UM, UIM
Massachusetts20/40/5BI + PD Liability, PIP
Michigan20/40/10BI + PD Liability, PIP
Minnesota30/60/10BI + PD Liability, PIP, UM, UIM
Mississippi25/50/25BI + PD Liability
Missouri25/50/25BI + PD Liability, UM
Montana25/50/20BI + PD Liability
Nebraska25/50/25BI + PD Liability, UM, UIM
Nevada25/50/20BI + PD Liability
New Hampshire25/50/25Financial Responsibility only
New Jersey15/30/5BI + PD Liability, PIP, UM, UIM
New Mexico25/50/10BI + PD Liability
New York25/50/10BI + PD Liability, PIP, UM, UIM
North Carolina30/60/25BI + PD Liability, UM, UIM
North Dakota25/50/25BI + PD Liability, PIP, UM, UIM
Ohio25/50/25BI + PD Liability
Oklahoma25/50/25BI + PD Liability
Oregon25/50/20BI + PD Liability, PIP, UM, UIM
Pennsylvania15/30/5BI + PD Liability, PIP
Rhode Island25/50/25BI + PD Liability
South Carolina25/50/25BI + PD Liability, UM, UIM
South Dakota25/50/25BI + PD Liability, UM, UIM
Tennessee25/50/15BI + PD Liability
Texas30/60/25BI + PD Liability, PIP
Utah25/65/15BI + PD Liability, PIP
Vermont25/50/10BI & PD Liab, UM, UIM
Virginia25/50/20BI + PD Liability, UM, UIM
Washington25/50/10BI + PD Liability
West Virginia25/50/25BI + PD Liability, UM, UIM
Wisconsin25/50/10BI + PD Liability, UM, Medpay
Wyoming25/50/20BI + PD Liability
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Remember, you do not have an American driving record for insurers to evaluate when determining your rates. Often, foreign driving experience does not count because the driving laws and rules of the road are too different. 

However, you will still be able to find a company willing to provide you with the appropriate level of legal coverage in the state where your college is located. 

Keep in mind that if you do not go through your school’s student center, car insurance carriers might require you to obtain a U.S. driver’s license. 

In most cases, the driver is given 30 days of coverage, but after this period expires, he or she must obtain a U.S. license in order to maintain their policy and keep their coverage.

Typically, if the student continues to be insured by the same company for at least three years, the insurance company will review the driver’s history with the company as well as his or her driving history, and the provider may lower the insurance premium to closer to the national average.

Is the required or minimum coverage enough for foreign student car insurance?

Many American drivers choose to purchase more coverage than the state minimum requirements because the coverage is not comprehensive enough otherwise. International students might choose to do the same.

The two most common additional car insurance policies drivers choose to add to their coverage include collision and comprehensive car insurance.

Both of these policies have deductibles associated with them, which is the amount you’ll pay out of pocket before the insurance coverage kicks in. 

Collision insurance protects you if your vehicle is damaged while in motion. This includes getting hit by another vehicle or hitting a tree or pole. 

Comprehensive insurance protects you if your vehicle was damaged while not in motion. This includes vandalism or theft, fire or flood damage, weather-related damage, and damage from animals. 

According to the Insurance Information Institute, 73% of insured drivers buy collision coverage, and 78% of insured drivers purchase liability insurance and comprehensive coverage. International students should keep this in mind when choosing a policy. 

Who provides cheap car insurance for international students?

Although the process of finding cheap car insurance for international students is slightly more involved than for a U.S. citizen, you do, in fact, have options. Just remember, young drivers always pay more for car insurance in America. 

How much is car insurance for a college student compared to older drivers? Drivers under the age of 25 pay almost twice as much for coverage. 

Luckly, GEICO and State Farm offer some of the lowest car insurance rates for younger drivers. Both companies also offer great student discounts. However, you’ll only discover your cheapest company by performing a rate comparison.

We recommend you make a list of possible auto insurance companies that will provide coverage to international students and read online reviews to find out what current and former customers are saying.

After all, when you need your insurance provider, you want them to be helpful, customer-oriented, and willing to pay the claim.

After seeking out quotes, compare the prices, customer reviews, and limits for each policy and choose the one that is the best fit for you. 

Does international student car insurance come with discounts?

International students will be able to qualify for different car insurance discounts. The easiest discounts to receive are for safety and anti-theft features your vehicle has. Ask if you qualify for the following discount opportunities.

  • Passive restraint discount
  • Anti-theft device discount
  • Drivers education discount
  • Safe driver discount
  • Low mileage discount
  • Good student discount

The safe driver discount is a great option for international students. If you maintain at least a B average, many companies will take a hefty percentage off of your overall rates. 

The good news is car insurance discounts stack in America. This means the more discounts you qualify for, the lower your car insurance rates will be. 

Shopping for the Best Car Insurance for International Students

Much like U.S. students, many international students live on tight budgets, which is why using a comparison shopping tool is critical to finding the most affordable rates in the area. You should request car insurance quotes for your international license from multiple carriers.

Even if you decide to take advantage of your international students’ association’s resources and contacts, it’s still important to shop around for car insurance to ensure you’re getting the lowest possible price for your policy.

Some of the best places to shop for car insurance include online quote comparison websites, or through an insurance agent directly. You’ll find that many providers will offer policies for international student drivers. Although you may need to do a little more digging around than most U.S. drivers.

Remember, you must know what level of car insurance coverage you want to purchase, and car insurance minimums vary by state. You must carry the minimum car insurance amounts for the state your school is located in. 

Also, before students leave their country, they should make sure that their international driver’s license has the following characteristics:

  • is valid
  • is up-to-date
  • is clear of any warrants or fines

You may also want to bring a copy of your driving record.

Ultimately, you’ll want to take the time to compare insurance providers’ rates to make sure you’re getting the coverage you need at the best price policy.

Is auto insurance for international students more expensive than for American students?

International students usually receive higher rates than the average American driver. This is partially because the insurance company does not have access to your driving record. 

Without a complete driving history, it is difficult for a provider to determine how risky of a driver you are.

Some car insurance providers will count the foreign student’s driving experience in his or her native country and will be able to offer a rate comparable to that of a U.S. citizen. That can help when looking for cheap car insurance for international drivers.

However, this is not always the case, and students should be prepared to pay slightly more for their car insurance policy due to a lack of driving history in the U.S.

Similarly, your age impacts your car insurance rates as well. In the United States, younger drivers in general pay more for car insurance because of a lack of driving experience. Year after year, fatal vehicle crash statistics also prove that younger drivers are simply riskier drivers. 

According to the Insurance Information Institute, drivers between the ages of 17 and 20 statistically make up the smallest number of drivers on the roads but are involved in the highest ratio of accidents. 

To summarize, insurers charge international students higher rates in order to be protected from these risks associated with ensuring a person from a foreign country

Do international students need a U.S. driver’s license?

While a driver’s license is required to legally drive on American roads, you do not need to apply for a U.S. driver’s license as an international student. Instead, you can apply for an international driver’s permit or IDP before you come to America for school. 

You will need to keep both your native country’s driver’s license and your IDP with you at all times while driving in the United States. 

IDPs are recognized by most United Nations countries and can last for the duration of your schooling.  

International Students Purchasing a Car in the U.S.

One easy way to get a car as an international student in America is to just rent one. You can usually rent vehicles for up to six months and you’ll have the option to purchase car insurance this way.

If you need a car for longer than six months and decide to buy one, be mindful about the make and model you purchase. 

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, some of the best-used vehicles young drivers should consider buying include the 2014 or newer Mazda 3 sedan or hatchback, the 2013 or newer Honda Accord, and the 2013 or newer Subaru Legacy.

A car with great crash test ratings and many safety features might qualify for discounts. Discounts, as you know, are your best friend when it comes to lowering your international student insurance rates.   

You are now an expert on securing cheap car insurance for international students in the USA. You have a lot of options and resources to help you purchase the right level of coverage for a reasonable price.

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