Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health in...

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer

UPDATED: Jun 18, 2018

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In a nutshell...

  • Car insurance is something you must have whether you are a temporary resident or a permanent U.S. citizen
  • You need an IDP (International Driver’s Permit) to drive in the United States as a temporary citizen
  • Temporary insurance is available for 1-28 days
  • Shop and compare to see what the best deal is for your needs and strive to find permanent insurance

Car insurance is required by all drivers in the United States.

The only exception is the fact that neither Virginia nor New Hampshire requires that drivers carry insurance in those states. Despite these limitations, these two states do promote and recommend taking insurance, even though it is not necessary by law.

Also, New Hampshire and Virginia both require that you produce evidence of your financial ability and responsibility. They want to know that if you do have an accident that injures or damages the property of others, that you have the monetary resources to pay for it.

Proving yourself financially can be done by producing bank statements or by having a financial institution or your place of employment write a letter to your state office where your driving records reside to verify your financial stability.

This procedure seems to be a long way around to avoid having car insurance, and many residents purchase insurance so that they will not have to go through the hassle of proving their fiduciary responsibility.

If you have recently moved to the States for a short time and need auto insurance, enter your ZIP code above and compare at least three to four policies to find the best rates for you!

What about temporary residents?

When it comes to international visitors, you are considered a temporary resident unless you have a fully legal citizenship for the United States. If you are in the country on a work or school visa, the same rules apply.

You must have an International Driving Permit (IDP) in order to drive legally in the United States.

The IDP is a legal identity document that allows you to drive a motor vehicle in any country. However, it must be accompanied by a valid driver’s license.

The IDP serves as a translation of a driver’s license that comes from another country and acts as a legal facsimile or interpretation of the license. In other words, it interprets and shows the validity of the driver’s license and provides legal documentation of its existence.

Once you have the proper IDP paperwork, you are allowed to drive in the United States, and you may purchase insurance.

Whether you are in the United States for a few days or several months, you will need to get insurance if you plan to reside or drive in any of the 48 states that require car insurance.

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What is temporary insurance?

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Temporary insurance is insurance that you have for a short period (usually from 1-28 days).

Temporary insurance can be used in any situation where you need to be covered on a temporary basis and do not want to take out a permanent insurance policy.

A few examples are if you are between policies or between cars or if you just haven’t found the best policy yet.

For visitors to the United States, temporary insurance offers a temporary fix for the legal requirement of carrying insurance until you can find more permanent coverage.

In most cases, you will not be able to purchase a car without some insurance coverage.

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Types of Coverage to Look For

If you are under a temporary insurance policy, you will want to inquire as to what it covers. In most cases, insurance companies will offer the same types of coverage that they do with their permanent insurance policies.

But not all companies do this. What coverages are provided for temporary insurance is a good question to ask when you apply for a free quote.

At the very minimum, you should make sure that your temporary policy covers the following:

  • Bodily injury liability insurance (required)
  • Property damage liability (required)
  • Uninsured/underinsured (required in some states)
  • Collision

These are the basic coverages that most permanent insurance policies cover. Bodily injury and property damage liability are mandatory in every state that requires insurance since these two areas are the most costly legally and financially to the people involved.

If you have an accident that is ruled as your fault in a “fault state,” you will likely be responsible for paying damages for personal injury and property damage caused to anyone in either car, as well as all property damages that are ruled your fault.

If you have an accident in a “no-fault state,” you will be required to pay for the damages and liability with your insurance, no matter who is at fault.

What about comprehensive insurance?

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Comprehensive insurance is meant to cover situations that are outside of auto accident scenarios.

Some examples of events that are covered by comprehensive insurance include:

  • Storms, hail damage, flooding, and other acts of nature
  • Theft of property
  • Vandalism
  • Accidents (in garages or other locations)

There may be other situations that qualify for claims with comprehensive coverage option. It is important to understand that comprehensive does not cover everything. But comprehensive does include a wide variety of situations that have nothing to do with car accidents.

Everyone has experienced some sort of incident that would have been covered by this type of coverage.

But remember that your primary insurance policy will not include comprehensive coverage, so you will need to opt into this coverage.

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The Goal of Temporary Insurance

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If you are a visitor from another country, you should have a goal to get permanent insurance if you plan to stay in the United States. Additionally, you should apply for a permanent residency if you intend to remain in the U.S. for longer than a few months.

Both of these things are required to be a true American citizen, and it will be to your advantage to get this process started as soon as possible.

So the goal of temporary insurance should be to cover you temporarily while you work on getting more permanent insurance, as well as work on the issues involving your citizenship that would give you a more permanent residency status.

Shop and compare as well on our site and get free quotes on your temporary car insurance.

Try the policy out during the 1-28 day period. Then come back afterward and see if you would like to convert your temporary policy to a more permanent policy or shop other companies to see if they can offer you a better deal.

Start comparison shopping today for the best auto insurance rates by entering your ZIP code below!