What is international car insurance?

International car insurance allows you the ability to drive abroad and still have coverage. It is best for if you’re planning a long trip and will be shipping your vehicle overseas, finding rental car companies, or purchasing a car while you’re there. Costs to ship vehicles can be over $1,000, not counting export and import fees and taxes. A lot of travelers prefer going through a rental agency, but you will still need an international policy to protect your vehicle.

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UPDATED: May 4, 2022

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Written By: Laura BerryReviewed By: Joel OhmanUPDATED: May 4, 2022Fact Checked

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Things to KnowSource
Your U.S. car insurance policy probably won't cover you if you drive abroad (though Canada and Mexico are sometimes exceptions)U.S. Department of State
Even if you find your policy does cover you overseas (you'll need to speak with them to find out), if it doesn't meet the country's minimum requirements you'll still need to purchase additional coverageU.S. Department of State
To be prepared and improve your safety on road when you're driving internationally, you need to research local road laws, road culture, road conditions, and travel optionsAssociation for Safe International Road Travel
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Are you wondering, “Does my car insurance cover me internationally?” Not everyone gets the opportunity to drive their own vehicle when they travel to other countries. However, if you do, then you need to ensure that you have worldwide auto insurance coverage. You may be wondering if you can get car insurance while you’re out of the United States, and the answer is yes.

Global car insurance is simply international car insurance and, if you are going to be traveling internationally, you need to purchase auto insurance abroad for your vehicle. Before you begin any sort of international trip to other exciting, foreign countries, protecting yourself against any sort of damages will save you a lot of money in the long run. Whether you’re getting a rental vehicle, or having your own vehicle ferried with you, it’ll be better to be safe than sorry.

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International Travel and Car Insurance

You’re planning a big trip overseas and you plan to drive while you’re in-country, rather than relying on public transportation. You’re probably wondering, “Does my car insurance cover me in another country? If not, do other countries have auto insurance? What kind of car insurance coverage do I need? What are the best international car insurance companies?”

Keep reading to learn the answers to these and other questions about auto insurance across the world.

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What is international car insurance?

International car insurance is exactly what it sounds like: car insurance coverage you can purchase that will ensure you’re protected when driving overseas. Depending on where you’re going, how long you plan to be there, and what you’ll be driving, this may be voluntary or required.

So what does overseas car insurance cover? It depends entirely on the amount of coverage you purchase. We’ll discuss this further later, but in many cases, you can purchase similar coverage to what is offered in the U.S.

You’ll need to purchase at least the amount of coverage that meets the minimum requirements of the country you’ll be visiting. To find out specifics, you can reach out to the country’s embassy, foreign government tourism office, or a car rental company based in the country. 

Do I need to buy international car insurance?

You probably will only need to purchase international auto insurance if you plan to spend an extended period of time overseas and will be bringing your own vehicle (or purchasing one while you’re there). Otherwise, rental car insurance in the country you’re planning to visit will likely provide the coverage you need.

Even though not every country requires you to have auto insurance or overseas auto insurance, it is always a smart idea to have that protection in case you have an accident.

You will find that there are companies in the U.S. that sell international auto insurance policies. Even if your company is one of them, your standard policy won’t provide you with coverage if you travel outside of the country.

The exception might be if you are traveling to Canada or Mexico. Before you make the decision to travel, you need to review your car insurance policy to ensure that you are covered in these two countries.

With certain companies, while your existing policy may not cover you in Canada or Mexico, you may not need to purchase a policy that covers you worldwide. Direct Auto Insurance company, for example, sells policies specifically for U.S. drivers that find themselves traveling to Mexico.

You may be wondering what sort of situation might come up where you would be able to take your vehicle to another country. One example is that from time-to-time business travelers find that they need to stay for an extended period of time working outside of the U.S.

If you find yourself in this situation of driving abroad, having your own vehicle with you can save you a great deal of frustration, and possibly even cost, when it comes to getting around.

Many countries, such as England, require you to maintain auto insurance on any vehicle on the road. They have similar requirements to the U.S., which means at the very least you will be required to carry liability insurance abroad. This is also the case throughout Europe.

In general, you’ll be able to purchase international liability car insurance, along with collision and comprehensive car insurance for driving abroad, in most countries.

These coverages may not be required internationally like they are in the U.S. but having this additional coverage may give you peace of mind when you’re driving in an alien environment.

It’s important to note that if you do plan to ship your vehicle overseas and purchase international coverage, you’ll need to be prepared for the cost of shipping your car. This includes both getting your vehicle to a port from which it will be shipped and then the actual cost of shipping. To give you an idea of some of the costs associated with this, take a look at this table, in which we provided some average rates for shipping vehicles to various countries.

Average Cost to Ship Vehicles Overseas
Vehicle Shipment Destination (from U.S.) Average Cost to Ship a Vehicle
South Korea$1,450
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These costs are strictly the transportation from port-to-port, and do not include transportation to and from the ports, port fees or taxes, etc. As you can see, this can get pricey, so only you can decide if this is the right choice for you.

What should I look for when buying international car insurance?

When you are looking for a company that offers worldwide auto insurance, there are some things that you need to consider. Some considerations are similar to those you’d keep in mind when purchasing auto insurance strictly for the U.S., such as cost, coverage types, and the company’s reputation.

You will also want to ask the following questions:

  • Do you understand your policy? Some international auto insurance companies aren’t based in the U.S. Before you agree to a policy, read through and see if you understand everything about the policy.
  • How are claim benefits paid? If you have an accident, how is the insurance company going to pay you? Typically, you will want to choose a company that pays your claim in U.S. dollars, not in the currency of the country in which you are traveling.
  • Do your rates change as you travel? This question is important because some insurance companies will charge you based on the exchange rate, which changes daily. Such rates will typically only happen with a company that isn’t based in the U.S., but not every non-U.S. company will do this.
  • Can you change your policy without penalties? Sometimes things happen as you are traveling and you want to make a change. Perhaps you want to reduce the amount of coverage you have or maybe your significant other joins you and you want to add them to the policy. In any case, you want to be able to make changes to your policy with the same ease as you can in the U.S.
  • How easy is it to make a claim? With most U.S.-based policies, you can make a claim online 24/7 and expect to hear from an agent very quickly after an accident.

You may have your own concerns with buying international travel auto insurance. Before you make a purchase, make sure you have all of your questions addressed.

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How much does international car insurance cost?

Much like buying regular car insurance, there are many factors that go into the decision of cost for international car insurance. One of the biggest factors, however, is where you are going to be driving. Getting insurance for driving in Canada, for example, is far less expensive than buying insurance for traveling in Germany.

With the exception of insurance for driving in Canada, you will find that worldwide car insurance is typically more expensive than insurance you can purchase in the U.S.

Part of the reason for this is that you are going to be driving in an unfamiliar country with unfamiliar laws, which means you stand a higher chance of having a car accident. Your U.S. driving history may not transfer, so you may be regarded as a new driver in the country in which you’ll be driving.

However, you can get some of the same discounts on international car insurance as you can with U.S. insurance. Driving a safe car, having a good driving record (if it transfers), taking driver safety courses, and so on can all help reduce the cost of your worldwide car insurance.

How do I find companies that sell international car insurance?

Not every company sells worldwide car insurance and some of those that do choose outside companies to underwrite those policies. This isn’t a problem; you just need to be aware that even if a big name company like GEICO offers you overseas auto insurance, they may not be underwriting it themselves.

Here are some tips:

  • When you purchase worldwide car insurance, the insurance company doesn’t have to be licensed to sell insurance in your state. This makes it easier for you to find a wider selection of insurance companies from which to choose.
  • Shopping around is the best way to ensure you get the lowest rates for your international auto insurance, so make sure you don’t accept the first quote you get.
  • Before you purchase any worldwide car insurance coverage, you should start by using a free quote tool. A free quote tool allows you to compare the rates of several reputable companies in a single location, taking the guesswork out of your purchase (which you can do on this page).

Companies other than the big names in the U.S. also offer the coverage you may be looking for. Examples include Clements worldwide auto insurance, Grundy worldwide auto insurance, and Response worldwide direct auto insurance. After shopping around, another way to help narrow down your choices is to look at worldwide car insurance reviews to see how different companies stack up.

The Bottom Line for International Car Insurance

When you’re planning to travel internationally and are looking to buy an international auto insurance policy, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Driving abroad is not always the same as driving in your hometown
  • Even if it’s not required, it’s always a good idea to have some type of international vehicle insurance
  • When driving abroad, it’s best to have collision and comprehensive coverage
  • international car insurance companies are not always based in the United States, so you’ll need to pay extra attention to the terms of the policy to be sure you understand the nuances

You’ll also need to consider whether it makes sense to ship your vehicle overseas, purchase one in-country, or rent a vehicle. In the case of the first two, international car insurance is likely necessary. But if you’re renting a vehicle, you may be able to obtain appropriate coverage through the rental company instead.

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Frequently Asked Questions: International Car Insurance

Still have questions about car insurance for overseas travel? Read these frequently asked questions to learn more.

What do I need to know about driving overseas?

Car accidents are among the leading cause of deaths worldwide. In fact, according to the Association for Safe International Road Travel:

“Road crashes are the single greatest annual cause of death in healthy U.S. citizens traveling abroad.”

With this in mind, it’s important to find out everything you can about road conditions, driving laws, road culture, vehicle safety considerations, local emergency numbers, and more. The U.S. Department of State has a number of resources for international travelers, including tips on where to find this information, how to get the appropriate driving permits, information on personal security and safety during international travel, and more.

What is the cheapest car insurance in the world?

In the United States, the answer to this question is typically USAA or GEICO. However, it ultimately depends on personal factors like driving history, location, age, credit score, and more. For some average rates by company, take a look at this table.

Average Annual Car Insurance by Company and State
StateAnnual Average Allstate PremiumAnnual Average American Family PremiumAnnual Average Farmers PremiumAnnual Average Geico PremiumAnnual Average Liberty Mutual PremiumAnnual Average Nationwide PremiumAnnual Average Progressive PremiumAnnual Average State Farm PremiumAnnual Average Travelers PremiumAnnual Average USAA Premium
Alaska$3,145.31$4,153.07Data Not Available$2,879.96$5,295.55Data Not Available$3,062.85$2,228.12Data Not Available$2,454.21
Alabama$3,311.52Data Not Available$4,185.80$2,866.60$4,005.48$2,662.66$4,450.52$4,798.15$3,697.80$2,124.09
Arkansas$5,150.03Data Not Available$4,257.87$3,484.63Data Not Available$3,861.79$5,312.09$2,789.03$5,973.33$2,171.06
Arizona$4,904.10Data Not Available$5,000.08$2,264.71Data Not Available$3,496.08$3,577.50$4,756.25$3,084.74$3,084.29
California$4,532.96Data Not Available$4,998.78$2,885.65$3,034.42$4,653.19$2,849.67$4,202.28$3,349.54$2,693.87
Colorado$5,537.17$3,733.02$5,290.24$3,091.69$2,797.74$3,739.47$4,231.92$3,270.77Data Not Available$3,338.87
Connecticut$5,831.60Data Not AvailableData Not Available$3,073.66$7,282.87$3,672.34$4,920.35$2,976.24$6,004.29$3,190.00
District of Columbia$6,468.92Data Not AvailableData Not Available$3,692.81Data Not Available$4,848.98$4,970.26$4,074.05Data Not Available$2,580.44
Delaware$6,316.06Data Not AvailableData Not Available$3,727.29$18,360.02$4,330.21$4,181.83$4,466.85$4,182.36$2,325.98
Florida$7,440.46Data Not AvailableData Not Available$3,783.63$5,368.15$4,339.60$5,583.30$3,397.67Data Not Available$2,850.41
Georgia$4,210.70Data Not AvailableData Not Available$2,977.20$10,053.44$6,484.90$4,499.22$3,384.88Data Not Available$3,157.46
Hawaii$2,173.49Data Not Available$4,763.82$3,358.86$3,189.55$2,551.83$2,177.93$1,040.28Data Not Available$1,189.35
Idaho$4,088.76$3,728.79$3,168.28$2,770.68$2,301.51$3,032.19Data Not Available$1,867.96$3,226.29$1,877.61
Indiana$3,978.81$3,679.68$3,437.55$2,261.07$5,781.35Data Not Available$3,898.00$2,408.94$3,393.75$1,630.86
Kentucky$7,143.92Data Not AvailableData Not Available$4,633.59$5,930.97$5,503.23$5,547.63$3,354.32$6,551.68$2,897.89
Louisiana$5,998.79Data Not AvailableData Not Available$6,154.60Data Not AvailableData Not Available$7,471.10$4,579.12Data Not Available$4,353.12
Maine$3,675.59Data Not Available$2,770.15$2,823.05$4,331.39Data Not Available$3,643.59$2,198.68$2,252.97$1,930.79
Maryland$5,233.17Data Not AvailableData Not Available$3,832.63$9,297.55$2,915.69$4,094.86$3,960.87Data Not Available$2,744.14
Massachusetts$2,708.53Data Not AvailableData Not Available$1,510.17$4,339.35Data Not Available$3,835.11$1,361.86$3,537.94$1,458.99
Michigan$22,902.59Data Not Available$8,503.60$6,430.11$20,000.04$6,327.38$5,364.55$12,565.52$8,773.97$3,620.00
Minnesota$4,532.01$3,521.29$3,137.45$3,498.54$13,563.61$2,926.49Data Not Available$2,066.99Data Not Available$2,861.60
Missouri$4,096.15$3,286.90$4,312.19$2,885.33$4,518.67$2,265.35$3,419.14$2,692.91Data Not Available$2,525.78
Mississippi$4,942.11Data Not AvailableData Not Available$4,087.21$4,455.94$2,756.53$4,308.85$2,980.48$3,729.32$2,056.13
Montana$4,672.10Data Not Available$3,907.55$3,602.35$1,326.11$3,478.26$4,330.76$2,417.74Data Not Available$2,031.89
North Carolina$7,190.43Data Not AvailableData Not Available$2,936.69$2,182.71$2,848.03$2,382.61$3,078.65$3,132.66Data Not Available
North Dakota$4,669.31$3,812.40$3,092.49$2,668.24$12,852.83$2,560.35$3,623.06$2,560.53Data Not Available$2,006.80
Nebraska$3,198.83$2,215.13$3,997.29$3,837.49$6,241.52$2,603.94$3,758.01$2,438.71Data Not Available$2,330.78
New Hampshire$2,725.01Data Not AvailableData Not Available$1,615.02$8,444.41$2,491.10$2,694.45$2,185.46Data Not Available$1,906.96
New Jersey$5,713.58Data Not Available$7,617.00$2,754.94$6,766.62Data Not Available$3,972.72$7,527.16$4,254.49Data Not Available
New Mexico$4,200.65Data Not Available$4,315.53$4,458.30Data Not Available$3,514.38$3,119.18$2,340.66Data Not Available$2,296.77
New York$4,740.97Data Not AvailableData Not Available$2,428.24$6,540.73$4,012.93$3,771.15$4,484.58$4,578.79$3,761.69
Oklahoma$3,718.62Data Not Available$4,142.40$3,437.34$6,874.62Data Not Available$4,832.35$2,816.80Data Not Available$3,174.15
Pennsylvania$3,984.12Data Not AvailableData Not Available$2,605.22$6,055.20$2,800.37$4,451.00$2,744.23$7,842.47$1,793.37
Rhode Island$4,959.45Data Not AvailableData Not Available$5,602.63$6,184.12$4,409.63$5,231.09$2,406.51$6,909.45$4,323.98
South Carolina$3,903.43Data Not Available$4,691.85$3,178.01Data Not Available$3,625.49$4,573.08$3,071.34Data Not Available$3,424.77
South Dakota$4,723.72$4,047.47$3,768.80$2,940.29$7,515.99$2,737.66$3,752.81$2,306.23Data Not AvailableData Not Available
Tennessee$4,828.85Data Not Available$3,430.07$3,283.42$6,206.69$3,424.96$3,656.91$2,639.30$2,738.52$2,739.28
Texas$5,485.44$4,848.72Data Not Available$3,263.28Data Not Available$3,867.55$4,664.69$2,879.94Data Not Available$2,487.89
Utah$3,566.42$3,698.77$3,907.99$2,965.57$4,327.76$2,986.57$3,830.10$4,645.83Data Not Available$2,491.10
Virginia$3,386.80Data Not AvailableData Not Available$2,061.53Data Not Available$2,073.00$2,498.58$2,268.95Data Not Available$1,858.38
Vermont$3,190.38Data Not AvailableData Not Available$2,195.71$3,621.08$2,128.21$5,217.14$4,382.84Data Not Available$1,903.55
Washington$3,540.52$3,713.02$2,962.00$2,568.65$3,994.73$2,129.84$3,209.52$2,499.78Data Not Available$2,262.16
West Virginia$3,820.68Data Not AvailableData Not Available$2,120.80$2,924.39Data Not AvailableData Not Available$2,126.32Data Not Available$1,984.62
Wisconsin$4,854.41$1,513.27$3,777.49$3,926.20$6,758.85$5,224.99$3,128.91$2,387.53Data Not Available$2,975.74
Wyoming$4,373.93Data Not Available$3,069.35$3,496.56$1,989.36$3,187.20$4,401.17$2,303.55Data Not Available$2,779.53
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On the international level, answering this question is less simple. The cheapest car insurance in the world will vary depending on where you’re going, what you’re driving, the amount of coverage you purchase, and numerous other factors. Your best bet is to shop around when searching for the most affordable worldwide auto insurance company.

What insurance company is the best for auto?

In the U.S., the answer is dependent on what, specifically, you’re looking for in auto insurance coverage, but some good options include Amica Mutual, State Farm, Progressive, The Hartford, GEICO, or USAA.

Internationally, the answer is again more complicated and will be dependent on the country you’re planning to visit, how long you’ll be there, the coverage you’re looking to purchase, and more.

You can start right now. Just enter your ZIP code and get online car insurance quotes for your next international trip today.

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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