Will auto insurance cover relatives with international drivers permits?

You can add your visiting relatives to your car insurance policy, but you may want to consider other options.

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UPDATED: Jun 16, 2022

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Written By: Laura BerryReviewed By: Joel OhmanUPDATED: Jun 16, 2022Fact Checked

Here's what you need to know...

  • In many cases, you can temporarily add your visiting relatives to your car insurance
  • Fees for this will vary significantly based on your driving record and car insurance company
  • In some cases, it might be best for your relatives to rent a car instead of borrowing yours

When relatives visit you from another country, you may want to loan them your vehicle once in a while so they can get around on their own. At the same time, you might be wondering if your insurance will cover your relatives or if you need to purchase car insurance for an international license holder. 

This is a great question that you’ll want to answer correctly before turning over the keys. Keep reading to make sure you have the right coverage.

Do I need to add an international driver to my car insurance?

Before your relatives arrive for their visit, call your current insurance company, if you have one, and explain the situation and verify the rules regarding auto insurance for international license holders. You should be able to add your international visitors to your policy temporarily.

In most situations, insurance companies are hesitant to allow drivers unfamiliar with American driving rules and roads to get behind the wheel without adding a charge to your policy. While some car insurance companies accept internationally licensed drivers for a small fee, others may charge higher rates.

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When to Say “No” to Loaning Your Car

Besides potentially paying a hefty fee for insuring your relatives with international driver’s licenses, there are other situations where it might be best not to loan them your car and list them on your policy. For instance, if you are a high-risk driver and already pay for extensive car insurance, this may guarantee a huge fee, or your insurance company might not even allow it. 

In addition — and this may be challenging to do — it is crucial to find out what your relatives’ driving records are like. Ideally, their driving history will be clean. But, if you know that they have had accidents and other traffic issues in their home country, it’s best not to let them use your vehicle.

Consider a Rental Car

If you discover that it’s going to be too expensive to temporarily add them to your policy, you still have a Plan B.  Your relatives can rent a car upon arriving at the airport, or you could drive them over to a rental agency close to your home if they only want to have a car for a couple of days. You might find that this is an affordable and stress-free way for your guests to have access to a vehicle. 

Note that your relatives will still need to purchase rental car insurance from the rental company. This will be valid for the period of time they have the car and is the easiest way for people visiting the United States to get the proper insurance.

What if they stay for a long time?

All of the tips thus far have been based on the assumption that your relatives’ stay will be short. However, if your visitors plan on staying for a few months or more and need to drive, they will need to get temporary car insurance for international drivers. 

The good news is that most insurance companies will allow tourists from other countries to get car insurance during their time in the U.S. They will need to have a valid driver’s license to do so. Depending on where your relatives are from, their original license may work, or they may be asked to apply for an international driving permit (IDP) in their country of residence before visiting the states. The IDP isn’t a license but works with their home country’s license to prove they’re allowed to drive internationally. 

Drivers from Canada won’t need an IDP to drive in the U.S., but visitors from most other countries will need it.

International Drivers Have Options for Car Insurance

Transportation can be an issue for international visitors, and making sure they’re properly insured is critical. It’s not difficult to get car insurance for people with an international driving permit, and you may even be able to add them to your policy for a small fee. If not, renting a car may be a workable option. 

As soon as you know when they are arriving, call your insurance company to review the details of your current policy so you can get everything squared away.

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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