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: Jul 14, 2021

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In a nutshell...

  • The key to making sure that you have the proper car insurance to drive when you are traveling to a foreign country is to plan well in advance of your trip
  • Your first call should be to your current auto insurance agent to see if your current insurance provider has information to offer on the driving requirements of the country you are traveling to
  • You can also contact the company that you will be renting a car to see what is required in terms of auto insurance before you show up in the foreign country

Before you travel to a foreign country, you need to make arrangements to make sure that you are covered by auto insurance in the event that you get into an accident while driving a car in that country.

You can start by contacting your current insurance provider to see if your coverage will extend.

You also need to check and see if the country you will be driving it requires an international driving permit to be on your person along with your U.S. driver’s license.

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Making Arrangements to Drive in a Foreign Country

There is plenty of advance planning that goes into making sure that you are able to legally drive in another country.

Even if you meet all of the legal requirements to drive in a foreign country, you will also need to make sure that you are covered by a car insurance policy in case you are involved in a car crash abroad.

In the worst case scenario, the rental car provider will most likely have some form of insurance available for foreign drivers.

The reason that this should be your last resort when traveling to a foreign country is that this type of coverage is usually more expensive and not as extensive in terms of the types of scenarios that it covers.

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What to Do with Your Current Auto Insurance Coverage

If you are going to be traveling abroad for an extended period of time, you may want to think about suspending your current auto insurance coverage in the U.S.

The major reason to do this is if you are not able to get car insurance coverage in a foreign country through your current auto insurance provider and will be out of the U.S. for a very long time.

Make sure that you properly notify your auto insurance company in advance of your cancellation of the policy.

When you return to the U.S., you would be required to obtain the mandatory auto insurance coverage in your state again.’

Your current auto insurance provider may even be able to make an arrangement with you to suspend your coverage for a certain amount of time and have it automatically renew on a set date.

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Applying for an International Driving Permit

Some foreign countries require that foreign drivers obtain an international driving permit in order to be able to drive legally.

This permit must be carried along with your typical driver’s license to show that you are licensed to drive in your home country.

You can generally apply for an international driving permit through the National Automobile Club for a fee.

You may be required to also present this card to your insurance provider and the rental car company in advance of driving in a foreign country or even signing for your rental car.

Requirements vary by country, so it is critical that you leave enough time in advance of traveling to figure out whether the international driving permit is necessary.

Car Insurance to Drive in a Foreign Country

The general rule of thumb when it comes to making sure that you are ready to drive in another country is that it is always better to start planning early.

You could end up paying much more for the required auto insurance from the car rental company.

It is also a good idea to make sure that you have the necessary international driving permit along with your U.S. driver’s license so that you will avoid problems like being stopped by police in a foreign country or being mixed up in a car accident.

You may need to provide a copy of this permit to your insurer and the rental car company. Enter your zip code below to find car insurance rates that fit your budget!