Travel Car Insurance – Bankrate.com

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We are an independent, advertising-supported comparison service. Our goal is to help you make smarter financial decisions by providing you with interactive tools and financial calculators, publishing original and objective content, by enabling you to conduct research and compare information for free – so that you can make financial decisions with confidence.
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Most people use their cars primarily to drive in their area of residence — whether to work, to the grocery store or library, or to ferry their kids to games — and of course, car insurance covers you for these in-town and in-state trips. But what about when you travel outside of your primary residence? In most cases, whether you use your car or have a car from a rental company, your insurance will still be valid no matter where you go.
If you have a car insurance policy, you should have everything you need to travel within the U.S. There is no specific type of coverage called “travel insurance,” and even if you drive in multiple states, you will be covered by your policy.
Almost every state in the U.S. requires you to carry a car insurance policy in order to drive legally. Minimum coverage policies typically consist of bodily injury liability insurance, which covers the other driver and their passengers if you cause an accident, and property damage liability, which covers the other driver’s car or stationary objects.
Some states have additional requirements and many drivers also purchase collision and comprehensive coverage. A full coverage policy includes liability with collision and comprehensive coverage, which includes coverage for damage to your car in a covered accident or other covered incident, like a falling branch or vandalism.
But what happens when someone else is driving your car? If you’re traveling a long distance, you may want to switch off driving with someone else. In that case, there are additional considerations.
If you are traveling temporarily to another state and have an accident, your auto insurance goes with you to cover you. You can also use optional coverage types you have added to your policy, such as roadside assistance, no matter where you drive in the U.S. The same is true for rental car insurance. Traveling out of state on a temporary visit doesn’t change whether you carry insurance.
In fact, your policy will most likely adjust to a new state’s minimum requirements if needed. Let’s say you travel from an at-fault to a no-fault state, where you are required to have personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. Your policy will most likely temporarily extend PIP coverage to you.
If you are moving to a new state, however, you will need to change your policy to reflect that state’s minimums once you arrive there. If you plan to stay with your current insurer, make sure they offer insurance in your new state.
Traveling outside of the country by car is a little more complicated than traveling out of state, but it’s still possible to manage. Some countries, such as Canada, typically allow you to use your U.S. driver’s license and consider your U.S. policy to be a valid form of insurance. In other countries, you will need an international license and separate policy coverage.
Your regular U.S. car insurance will most likely not cover you once you cross the border into Mexico. Mexican law requires you to have a policy that is specific to the country in order to drive legally there. Your American insurer may be able to get you this coverage by working with a Mexican company, or you can purchase a policy from a Mexican provider. One exception is if you have rental car insurance. If you get your rental car in Mexico, it should have the appropriate coverage through the rental company.
Canada and the U.S. have reciprocal insurance laws, so you shouldn’t need a separate policy if you travel across the northern border. Your American policy will remain in force unless you are in Canada for more than 180 days. You will need to bring your proof of insurance card and may also want to have the declaration page of your policy with you, which lists your coverage limits.
If you are traveling somewhere other than Mexico or Canada, you are probably doing so with a rental car. That car’s rental company will usually have made sure that it had the appropriate policy for that country, although you can always ask to verify this is the case. You may also have the benefit of additional coverage if you pay with your credit card, since some credit card companies offer rental car insurance for travelling abroad. If you are driving abroad with your personal vehicle, your local agent may be able to help you, or you can find out more from the U.S. embassy in the country you’re visiting.
In addition to standard liability insurance, it’s a good idea to have collision and comprehensive coverage. Many insurers offer other add-ons that may be worth looking into, like roadside assistance, which can be invaluable if you get stuck, and umbrella policies, which give you added financial protection.
Your policy will only usually cover a necessary car rental while your personal vehicle is being repaired or replaced following a covered incident. If your rental is for leisure or travel purposes, you can purchase coverage from the rental company. If you are traveling outside the U.S., it’s a good idea to get your rental car in your destination country so that it has the right coverage. For example, if you’re going to Mexico, consider renting a car once you arrive. If you rent it in the U.S., it may not have appropriate coverage for a trip to Mexico.
Depending on your coverage, your policy may cover a rental if your vehicle requires repairs or replacement after a covered accident. If the other driver caused the accident, their policy should help cover a rental. If you were at fault, you would need to be carrying rental reimbursement insurance for your policy to cover a rental car.
Bankrate.com is an independent, advertising-supported publisher and comparison service. Bankrate is compensated in exchange for featured placement of sponsored products and services, or your clicking on links posted on this website. This compensation may impact how, where and in what order products appear. Bankrate.com does not include all companies or all available products.
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