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Can you insure a car in another state?

Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com

In nearly every state, drivers must have a minimum amount of car insurance. The types and amounts of coverage you need vary depending on where you live and keep your vehicle.

Many drivers may wonder if your car can be registered in one state and insured in another, perhaps to reduce their auto insurance rate. Insurers typically don’t allow you to purchase an auto policy for a state where you don’t live. 

For instance, if you live in Florida, your car should be registered and insured in Florida. If you permanently relocate to another state, such as Georgia, the vehicle you bring with you must be registered and insured in Georgia.

Having a car registered in one state and insured in another may be against the law. It could also cause your insurer to deny a claim or cancel your policy. So make sure you understand the rules for insuring your vehicle correctly.

Does my car insurance cover me when I’m traveling out of state?

Short-term trips throughout the U.S. or Canada are covered no matter which state you call home. Your car insurance follows your vehicle. If you take a road trip from Missouri to Maine, you’ll have coverage in any state you visit.

Your out-of-state coverage also applies if you live in one state and work in another one. For instance, if you live in Indiana and work in Illinois, you need an Indiana auto policy.

However, if you drive into Mexico for work or pleasure, your U.S. policy typically doesn’t cover you. So, it’s essential to purchase a separate Mexican insurance policy before crossing the border. 

Does my car insurance cover me if I have more than one home?

If you own or rent multiple residences in different states, you might keep a vehicle at each place. For instance, if you spend time each in Maine and Florida and have a registered car at each location, you should have separate insurance policies in both Maine and Florida.

However, if you drive a vehicle from Maine to Florida to spend a month each year, your car insurance covers you. Note that some states require you to register your car if you spend more than a certain amount of time there, such as 30 days. 

It’s a good idea to contact the department of motor vehicles and an insurance representative to double-check that you comply with the law. Ask the local authorities if you can have car insurance in another state based on how much time you regularly spend there.

What car insurance coverage do I need if I’m in the military?

If you’re in the military, you can typically register and insure a car in your home state, even if you’re stationed in another state. For instance, if you’re a legal resident of Iowa and get stationed in Texas, your car can be registered and insured in Iowa.

However, if you switch your primary residence to Texas after having been a legal resident of Iowa, you’d need to register and insure your car in Texas.

Can on-campus college students have a car insured in another state?

Most states allow on-campus college students who live in another state to stay on the family auto insurance policy if they claim their parent’s address as a primary residence. However, parents who choose to insure a child who attends an out-of-state college should notify their insurance company as soon as possible.

A college student who lives off-campus has a different primary residence than their parents and should have their own auto insurance, no matter which state they call home.

The takeaway

When you drive in different states for reasons other than work or a vacation, it’s wise to make sure you have the proper insurance coverage.

Always check with your insurance company or insurance agent if you’re unsure about state-by-state coverage requirements. Here are some key takeaways about whether you can live in one state and have car insurance in another:

  • Your existing auto insurance covers you during road trips from your home state to another state, or even to Canada. But if you cross the border into Mexico, you’ll need to purchase separate coverage.
  • Your car insurance is typically tied to the state where you live and work. Your coverage is based on where your car usually sits (such as your home garage) when you’re not driving it.
  • You might be allowed to insure a vehicle in a state that isn’t your primary home if you’re a short-term seasonal resident, military member or a remote college student.

Laura Adams

Laura is a frequent media source and has been featured on most major news outlets including ABC, Bloomberg, CBS, FOX, NBC, NPR, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, USA Today, U.S. News, Consumer Reports, Entrepreneur, Forbes, Fortune, Kiplinger’s, Marketplace, Money, MSN, and many other broadcast, print, and online outlets. Laura’s mission is to empower consumers to live richer lives through her writing, podcasting, spokesperson, and advocacy work. Millions of readers and listeners benefit from her practical financial advice. Laura earned an MBA from the University of Florida. She and her husband reside in Vero Beach, Florida. Connect with her and learn more at LauraDAdams.com.

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