How to Get Car Insurance as a Non-Citizen & International Student

Updated on January 4, 2024

Car insurance is not only legally mandated, but is also a huge aid when accidents happen. However, for non-citizens and international students, getting valid car insurance can be much more complex compared to the regular insurance buyer. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you understand how to get car insurance as a non-citizen or international student!

Buying a Car as a Non-U.S. Citizen

Buying a car in the US as an international student or non-US citizen is a very different experience compared to a US resident. When car dealers sell to a visa holder, there are many things they must take into consideration due to the buyers resident status.

For example, since international students and non-citizens often don’t have a long credit history in the US, it can be difficult to obtain good financing for a car.

using online services such as TrueCar or AutoTrader can help find affordable car options that will work for you.

Therefore, when beginning the car buying process, you should start by deciding how much you will be able to spend on the car. Once you figure out your budget, you can then start researching the best model for your needs. There are tons of information on car models available on the internet, and using online services such as TrueCar or AutoTrader can help find the most affordable car options for you.

Is There Car Insurance for Non-Citizens?

Yes! Although the requirements for getting car insurance are more strict for non-citizens, there are still many options available for non-citizens and international students who wish to drive in the US.

Do I Need Car Insurance?

Every vehicle driven in the US must have insurance – therefore, even cars owned by non-US citizens must have valid insurance.

If you are caught driving without insurance, you will face penalties which vary from state to state. The most common consequences are receiving a traffic ticket for a no insurance violation, having your vehicle registration suspended, hefty fines, increased future insurance premiums, or having your driver’s license suspended.

To avoid these penalties, your second task after purchasing your car should be obtaining car insurance. We will explain how you can do this below!

Why is Car Insurance Important?

Even if you are the best driver in the world, you still face the risks of driving on the road with everyone else who may not be driving as well or paying enough attention to their surroundings. If you do get into an accident, car insurance will alleviate some, if not all, of the financial damages you may have incurred. This can include damages to your car and medical bills from your injuries.

Without car insurance, you will be left to deal with all of the damages on your own, which can be impossible for many students and foreign visitors. If you are determined to be at fault for the accident, all of your assets are at risk if you do not have car insurance.

How does Car Insurance Work?

Car insurance works to protect you from financial loss in the event of an accident. When having car insurance, you pay premiums(typically every month), and in return, the insurance company agrees to pay for part, or all of your financial losses from the accident.

How Do I get Car Insurance?

There are many options to buy car insurance, with hundreds of providers ranging from independent agents to insurance companies. You can go through a large insurance company to get your car insurance rates or work with an agent that works on behalf of the company to negotiate your rates.

Loans from a company that understands the situation of F-1 visa holders

Check Loan Options

Loans for up to $25,000. No cosigner required. No prepayment penalty.

Many companies have convenient online systems that quickly give you your quote which is great for a pressure-free shopping experience and convenience. However, working with an agent can help you better understand how much coverage you need and can better explain the complex parts of your car insurance policy.

What Documentation is Needed to Get Car Insurance for Non-Citizens?

When looking to purchase car insurance, most companies will require the following documents.

Driver’s License

You must have a valid driver’s license issued in your home country in order to be considered legally able to drive in the U.S. This driver’s license will then be translated into an International Drivers Permit (although this is slightly different if you’re looking for an H4 driving license).

International Driver’s Permit

The International Drivers Permit allows you to drive in the United States without a US state-issued driver’s license.

In order to receive an international driver’s permit, you will need to provide documentation including your valid driver’s license from your home country.

You can apply for your international driving permit from either the American Automobile Association (AAA) or the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA). There are many other companies that will try to sell you a fake international drivers permit so note that these are the only two organizations from where you can get your valid permit!

Driving Record

Your driving record checks for the status of your driver’s license and if you have any tickets, a DUI record or any other problems with your previous driving history.

This documentation lets the insurance company determine how safe they see you as a driver and will affect your insurance rates and policy.

The 5 Kinds of Car Insurance

When shopping for car insurance, knowing the different types of coverages is essential to getting the best policy for you. Here are 5 kinds of car insurance that you will likely look for when buying your own insurance.

Liability Insurance

Liability insurance protects you when an accident is determined to be your fault. This insurance will cover the cost of physical property and medical damages from the accident.

Collision Coverage

Collision coverage helps pay for repairs to your car. If you have an older, worn out car, collision coverage may not be worth it if the value of the car isn’t very high in the first place. However, if you have a new car or an expensive car, collision coverage can save you a lot of money if any damage does occur to your car.

Comprehensive Coverage

Comprehensive coverage pays for damages that happen to your car from an uncovered accident. This includes weather damage, damage from animals, or if your car is stolen.

Personal Injury Protection

Personal Injury Protection, also called PIP, pays for your medical bills no matter who is at fault for an accident.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Protection

Although insurance is mandatory, there are some drivers who still drive without insurance. Therefore, uninsured/underinsured motorist protection helps with expenses if the person responsible for covering your damages does not provide payment due to their lack of insurance.

This can include a hit and run accident, where no one is able to be found to be at fault for the accident.

What Kind of Insurance Policy Makes Sense for Me?

The minimum insurance requirements vary by state, and your own personal insurance needs will vary based on the vehicle you are driving and your own personal driving record.

It is best to shop around and receive rates from different companies to see which one offers the best rates for your needs.

Conclusion

Having car insurance is a must when planning to drive in the US. Stilt is dedicated to helping international students and immigrants and we hope this guide has helped you with getting the best car insurance during your time in the US.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.