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How does car insurance work when traveling cross-country?

Your car insurance will follow you into another US state. If you’re taking a cross-country road trip and are worried about your insurance coverage reaching from Texas to California, rest assured — your policy will cover your interstate travel. Read on to learn more about additional considerations, including how shared driving responsibilities should be handled and some potential coverage limitations. Need coverage for an upcoming trip?  Enter your ZIP code above to receive customized quotes in under 5 minutes and find the best car insurance for you.

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Car insurance for road trips

There is no specific road trip car insurance policy. If you’re planning to share driving responsibilities with someone not covered by your insurance policy, you should check to confirm your policy includes permissive use.

The permissive use clause in car insurance extends coverage to someone unlisted on the policy who uses the vehicle infrequently — fewer than 12 times per year. Permissive use allows you to share driving responsibilities during a road trip.

Many of the best car insurance companies offer a permissive use option. Some smaller insurance companies offer permissive use with certain restrictions. Check your policy information before your interstate journey!

If you're planning to share driving responsibilities on your road trip, make sure your auto insurance policy includes permissive use.


Auto insurance for traveling to different states: state minimum coverage levels

Car insurance is regulated at the state level, so every state writes and administers its own insurance requirements. For example, below are the minimum required insurance levels in a few popular destination states (Florida and California) and their neighbors. If you aren't sure what your state requires for minimum auto insurance coverage, we have information listed for each state that may be helpful as you evaluate your current coverage.

Luckily, if you travel into a state with higher required insurance minimums than yours, your limits will automatically increase to meet the requirements. For example, your California limits would increase to $25K/$50K/$20K if you were to travel to Oregon.

Your liability insurance will not decrease if you travel to another state with lower limits.

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State Bodily Injury Property Damage Uninsured motorist BI Uninsured motorist PD Personal Injury Protection
California $15,000 per person/$30,000 per accident $5,000 per accident None None None
Oregon $25,000 per person/$50,00 per accident $20,000 per accident $25,000 per person/ $50,000 per accident None $15,000
Florida None $10,000 per accident None None $10,000
Georgia $25,000 per person/$50,00 per accident $25,000 per accident None None None

What if I plan to rent a vehicle for my road trip?

There are a variety of situations where renting a vehicle might make more sense than driving your own, such as taking your whole family, plus your kids' best friends, to Disney World. Your daily driver may not be the most efficient vehicle for eight people to travel through six states together. 

Thankfully, your car insurance policy allows you to drive through other states in the US without changing insurance coverage at every state line. And typically, your coverage will apply to rental vehicles here in the US. However, it's important to know what your policy limits are, and it may provide more peace of mind if you have additional liability coverage, for example.

When it comes to rental car insurance most companies offer insurance options that make obtaining additional coverage very convenient. You can usually opt in for this coverage either when you reserve the vehicle, or when you pick it up. Also, check with your credit card company to see what kind of rental car insurance they may offer to customers. It's also a good idea to communicate with your insurance agent ahead of your trip just to make sure you understand the coverage you currently have. Take look at our rental car insurance information for a more detailed explanation on this topic.

Renting a vehicle can be a convenient option for a road trip, but you may want to purchase additional coverage before embarking on your journey.


Additional considerations

There is not a lot to consider when planning a cross-country road trip in terms of your car insurance, but be aware of your current coverage and contact your insurance company if you have questions. If you’re worried about your vehicle’s capabilities on the open road, consider adding roadside assistance coverage. If someone not listed on the policy will be driving, add permissive use to your policy. For additional insight, check out our pages on non-owner car insurancetemporary car insurance, and uninsured motorist coverage.

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RECENT QUESTIONS

Do I need to get a non-owners policy if I'm borrowing my mom's vehicle?

Hello, If you live with your parents and drive their vehicle more than once a month, they will need to add you to their policy. If you do not live with them and/or you do not drive the vehicle more than once a month, you would be covered under what's known as permissive use (provided you have your parent's permission to drive their car).
Jun 21, 2019 Mission, TX

Can my brother in law use my car for a week?

He should be covered to drive your car as long as you have permissive use coverage. This means that someone can drive your car that does not live with you, as long as they have permission and it is not a regular occurrence.
Aug 24, 2018 Bothell, WA

Will full coverage apply if my son's girlfriend wrecked my car?

Sorry to hear about your situation. It will be up to your insurance carrier.
Nov 5, 2020 Santa Cruz, CA

Do I need rental car insurance for driving someone else's car?

You would not need rental car coverage. However, whether or not you have coverage would depend.
Jan 26, 2018 Lakeville, MN

Ava Lynch photo
Ava LynchSenior Analyst

Ava joined The Zebra as a writer and licensed insurance agent in 2016. She now works as a senior analyst, providing insights and data analysis as one of The Zebra's property and casualty insurance experts.

Ava’s insurance career began as an agent with Farmers Insurance. Over the years, she has become an authority in all things property and casualty insurance, helping her to write informative guides for shoppers.

Ava’s work has been cited in publications such as InvestopediaThe BalanceMoney.comLiberty Mutual, U.S. News & World Report, GasBuddy, Car and Driver and Yahoo! Finance.

About The Zebra

The Zebra is not an insurance company. We publish data-backed, expert-reviewed resources to help consumers make more informed insurance decisions.

  • The Zebra’s insurance content is written and reviewed for accuracy by licensed insurance agents.
  • The Zebra’s insurance content is not subject to review or alteration by insurance companies or partners.
  • The Zebra’s editorial team operates independently of the company’s partnerships and commercialization interests, publishing unbiased information for consumer benefit.
  • The auto insurance rates published on The Zebra’s pages are based on a comprehensive analysis of car insurance pricing data, evaluating more than 83 million insurance rates from across the United States.