Can you buy car insurance for UK drivers in the USA?

You can buy U.S. car insurance with a UK driver’s license. However, it can take time to find the best policy and you should plan ahead. Here's how to make sure you're covered with auto insurance before you arrive.

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UPDATED: Jun 10, 2022

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Written By: Laura BerryReviewed By: Joel OhmanUPDATED: Jun 10, 2022Fact Checked

Here's what you need to know

  • It is possible to buy auto insurance in the U.S. with a UK driver’s license
  • However, most insurance companies label you a “high-risk” driver if you don’t have a valid U.S. driver’s license
  • A high-risk designation often equates to higher insurance rates
  • The higher rates are well worth it, though, as driving without insurance in the U.S. is illegal


Though not all insurance companies offer car insurance for foreign drivers, many do, especially larger companies. If you plan to move to the U.S. from the UK for school or study abroad on a somewhat long-term basis, you’ll need auto insurance to drive legally. Regardless of your goals for coming to the U.S., it is important that you understand the country’s auto insurance laws and how to obtain UK student car insurance.

How To Find Car Insurance for UK Drivers in the USA

Finding car insurance for international drivers with a visa in the U.S. is difficult, but not much more so than getting comprehensive coverage as a local citizen or resident. Shopping around for car insurance is a somewhat complex and lengthy process in and of itself. Before deciding on a policy, regardless of your situation, you must do your homework by comparing rates and shopping for discounts.

The only difference between your car insurance shopping process and that of a U.S. citizen is that you have slightly fewer options available to you. This is because many auto insurance companies cater strictly to low-risk drivers.

For a driver to obtain a “low-risk” designation, he or she must present a valid U.S. driver’s license for the state in which he or she plans to drive. Drivers must also demonstrate their ability to drive safely and follow the rules of the road. Unfortunately, drivers with UK licenses struggle to prove either experience or knowledge. As a result, most drivers with UK licenses can’t obtain low-risk designations.

There are several companies that issue policies for all types of drivers. As an international driver, it may be worth your while to shop around with these companies. Though you can’t know for sure which companies offer high-risk auto insurance, the best thing you can do is call a company and ask. Larger companies, such as Progressive, State Farm, and GEICO, are typically willing to assume more risk than their smaller counterparts.

Can you use your UK driving record to obtain a low-risk designation?

Unfortunately, it does not matter how great of a driver you are in the UK — if you don’t have a valid U.S. driver’s license, most insurers consider you inexperienced and, therefore, high risk. A high-risk designation makes it difficult for you to obtain coverage. If you can find coverage, you’ll likely have to pay the high-risk driver surcharge.

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Getting Insurance on a Rental Car as an International Driver

Finding coverage as an international driver may be a non-issue if you plan to rent a car in the U.S. You can rent a car without insurance if you purchase insurance from the rental company. Most rental car companies provide coverage up to the minimum amounts required by the state. These companies also allow drivers to purchase additional insurance for added protection.

If you plan to visit the U.S. for a short period of time, rental car coverage may be all you need. However, bear in mind that most state minimums cover only the cost of damage that you cause to another person’s vehicle. If you cause an accident, you may have to pay for the repair or replacement costs of the rental car. For this reason, you should consider purchasing additional coverage if you plan to be in the U.S. for an extended period.

Obtaining UK Student Car Insurance

As an international student in the U.S., your options for obtaining car insurance are more or less the same as non-students. You must find an insurer that is willing to cover a “high-risk” driver. You probably won’t be able to use your driving experience in your home country to obtain cheaper rates.

Unfortunately, as a student, your path to car insurance may be a bit more difficult. Some car insurance companies require international students to have three years of driving experience in the U.S. before they will cover them.

As an international student, you do have one advantage over non-students. Your Designated School Official can provide you with a list of car insurance companies that cater to international drivers and maintain more lenient requirements.

Do you need car insurance as a UK driver in the USA?

Though car insurance requirements vary by state, the fact is that all but two states require drivers to maintain a minimum amount of coverage. If a police officer catches you driving without the minimum coverage, you face fines, license suspension, and possible jail time.

There are two states that don’t maintain minimum coverage requirements: Virginia and New Hampshire. However, you must obtain an insurance waiver, which you can only do once you present proof of financial responsibility. In other words, you must demonstrate that you can pay up to a certain amount in damages that you may cause in an accident. Moreover, you may also have to pay an uninsured vehicle fee.

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Do you need a U.S. license to obtain car insurance?

You don’t necessarily need a U.S. driver’s license to obtain coverage in the U.S. However, to legally drive in there, you need an International Driver’s Permit. You must obtain the IDP from the country that issued your driver’s license before you arrive in America, as the U.S. does not issue them.

Obtaining an IDP is fairly easy. You need to be at least 18 and have a valid driver’s license from your home country.

Car Insurance for UK Drivers in the USA: The Bottom Line

Finding car insurance as an international driver takes a bit more time and effort than if you already have a U.S. driver’s license. However, when you’re armed with the right knowledge and resources, you can find affordable coverage in no time.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.

A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Written by Laura Berry
Former Insurance Agent Laura Berry

Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP® Joel Ohman

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