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Finding car insurance for returning expats

 

Living abroad can be an exciting and unique experience, and it's sure to come with plenty of challenges, too. If you’re returning to the US after living abroad, one of the many things you'll need to get in order is your car insurance. Even if you carried car insurance while abroad, your new insurance company might consider you “uninsured” when you apply for an auto insurance policy stateside. We've detailed common issues, helpful tips, and the impact of living abroad on insurance rates in the below analysis.

Car insurance after returning to the US

 

A question you'll undoubtedly need to answer when seeking an auto insurance quote is, “are you currently insured?” Most insurance companies like to see three or more years of continuous, high-level coverage from a potential customer. In the estimation of an insurer, the longer a customer has carried insurance, the less risky they will be.

If you cannot provide proof of insurance — written in English — from the country in which you were living, an American car insurance company would consider you “uninsured” during the years you spent abroad. The best way to alleviate this would be to retain a policy declaration form for your records.

insurance policy

Didn’t have car insurance abroad?

If you either didn’t have coverage or can’t prove your coverage, expect your US auto insurance rates to be slightly higher than they would be if you had maintained continuous coverage. Typically, a driver with six months of continuous insurance coverage saves nearly $100 per year versus a driver with no sustained coverage.

Average annual insurance premium by time insured
Time Insured Average Annual Premium
None $1,599
6 Months $1,509
1 Year $1,475
3 Years $1,439
5 Years $1,409

Additional takeaways

Not all insurance companies will approve someone without continuous coverage. Because of the risks presented by an uninsured driver, the insurance company might underwrite your car insurance policy with a subsidiary. 

When returning to the states from abroad, be sure to secure proof of your expat car insurance. This record will help to prove your continuously insured status. If it looks like your coverage has lapsed, certain insurers could disqualify you or quote you higher premiums. No matter your unique circumstance, finding affordable car insurance for expats isn't impossible. Enter your new zip code below to receive quotes in minutes

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Frequently Asked Questions

What will companies look at when determining my rate? Chevron down icon

Some of the factors insurance companies take into consideration when calculating a rate are your age, marital status, your specific vehicle, and your personal driving history. Your location can also make a difference - whether you settle in a particular state, if you're in a rural or urban area, or in a specific zip code can make a difference. This is why it is important to shop around with different insurance companies to get the best rate and coverage for your needs.

What if I never had car insurance in the US before I went abroad? Chevron down icon

If you haven't had car insurance in the US in the past, you're generally considered a "new driver" by insurance companies, which is a higher risk for the insurer. If you had car insurance while you were abroad, it can be helpful for your insurance company to see documentation (in English) of the policy you carried in your previous country.

Do I need insurance if I'm only living in the US temporarily? Chevron down icon

If you're in America for a short visit and renting a car for a few days or weeks, a simple solution is to purchase insurance through the rental car company. However, if you're staying for a longer period of time and purchase a vehicle, then you'll want to get your own policy that meets state minimum requirements. Most policies are typically written for six months or a year, but some companies do offer shorter policy periods. You may also want to ask about the company's cancelation policy, as well.

What if I'm from Canada and I'm driving my own car while I live in the US? Chevron down icon

If you're relocating from Canada and bringing your personal vehicle with you, then you'll want to obtain a US driver's license from the state you plan to live in. Like other drivers, you'll be required to carry the state minimum when it comes to insurance on your vehicle, so take the time to shop around and find a policy and rate that work the best for your situation.


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.