A Guide to Canadian Car Insurance in the USA

You can drive in the United States with either a foreign driver’s license or an international driving permit, but you’re legally required to have a car insurance policy if you plan to own or drive a car in the U.S. When you rent a car from a car rental company, you can purchase car insurance through the agency. They’ll ensure you drive with enough coverage to meet the state minimum requirements. When driving your own car into the U.S., it’s your responsibility to find out what type of coverage is required. The good news for Canadian drivers is that your Canadian car insurance policy will likely cover you when driving in the U.S. with your own vehicle.

Auto Insurance in Canada vs. in the United States

The United States and Canada have similarities in car insurance coverage. Both countries require drivers to have car insurance and proof of financial responsibility in the event they are liable for damages they cause in an accident. Individual U.S. states set their own insurance requirements while the Canadian national government sets the insurance requirements for all provinces. Both countries also require drivers to have proof of insurance on demand. There are some Canadian provinces with no-fault insurance laws, and if Canadian drivers fail to pay their insurance premiums, their vehicles lose registration automatically.

Can Canadians Legally Drive in the U.S.?

According to autoinsurance.org, Canadians can legally drive in the U.S. with their Canadian driver’s license. However, they can’t drive with Canadian car insurance in the USA. Canadians coming for a touristic visit will need a temporary car insurance policy for the duration of their visit. The good news is that you can purchase an affordable policy with a Canadian license. If you will be in the U.S. for an extended period of time or are permanently moving, you’ll need to get your U.S. driver’s license within 10 to 30 days depending on the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. It’s a good idea to get an international driving permit (IDP) when visiting for tourism or business purposes.

U.S. Auto Insurance Requirements

Typically, most U.S. states require drivers to carry specific types of auto coverage. Liability coverage pays for the repairs and medical bills of another driver in the event of an accident that you cause. Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage pays for your medical bills and repair costs in the event an uninsured driver causes an accident. Personal injury protection (PIP) pays for your medical expenses regardless of who is at fault in an accident.

You can find out the specific insurance requirements and the coverage amount through the DMV. It’s a good idea to consider extra coverage options with your U.S. car insurance. Collision coverage covers the cost of your own car repairs if you’re in an at-fault accident. This type of coverage requires you to pay a deductible when making an insurance claim. Comprehensive coverage pays for the cost of car repairs caused by vandalism, natural disasters, or animal-related accidents. You also have to pay a deductible with this type of extra coverage.

Most insurance companies only offer six-month and 12-month policies, though some offer short-term car insurance. Before buying an auto policy for a short-term visit, ask the insurance carrier about the cancelation policy and whether there are any penalty charges for canceling early. Always take the time to shop around for insurance carriers and compare car insurance rates. The type of vehicle, your driving record, credit history, and risk status are used by insurers to determine your monthly premium. Insurance companies can’t access your driving record if you have a foreign driver’s license, which means they charge higher insurance rates to be safe.

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