Does My UK Car Insurance Cover Me in the USA?

Car Insurance in the UK vs. the US

If you don’t plan to use public transportation and you’re traveling around the USA, you’re likely going to need a car. To drive legally in most states in the USA, you will need a minimum amount of car insurance. And depending on whether you will be driving a rental car, buying one or borrowing one, different insurance rules apply.

Car Insurance within the EU

The nice easy but here is, if you’re visiting an EU country and plan to only stay there for a short while, you should be covered with your standard UK car insurance

So bear in mind that nothing is ever quite simple as that. This basic cover:

  • Is usually third – party only
  • Applies normally for only up to 30 days

If you’re visiting Europe for longer than 30 days or you are in need of a more extensive cover, for example, when you want an insurance that will cover damages to your own car in the event of an accident, you will be required to speak to your insurers and arrange specific European cover.

Read the small print because as ever, you get what you pay for here. This is because the cheapest deal may not always offer the best value for money. On the positive side, extended cover on a short term basis is offered by many companies. So if you plan to take your expensive Lamborghini and Mercedes to a car show in France or any part of Europe, for instance, you may well have to find out if you’re able to insure your cars for 14 days or 28 days. There is no need to pay for the full year’s cover.

If you decide to take the extended cover, it is advisable to look at adding European breakdown cover to the insurance package. This is offered by so many insurers as an optional extra and when you find yourself stranded, it is soothing to know that help is just a phone call away because of the few quid you expended on the extra cover.

It’s a good idea to let your insurer know that you’ll be overseas in advance even if you’re happy with just the basic, standard third party deal. Particularly if you plan to stay longer than a week.

Right now the UK is no longer in Europe and it seems they are in some sort of limbo, but the UK is not entirely divorced from it either. As of January 2021 that has changed. The two major changes that have applied after Brexit are that the drivers in EU countries will (in line with visitors from other non-EU nations) need to have an International Driver’s Permit and an insurance ‘green card’. A green card is a document issued by insurers to confirm that you are covered legally.

To sum up the European situation, then:

  • Short term, basic cover is included already in your existing policy.
  • Longer term or more extensive cover will need to be purchased separately.
  • You will need to carry an insurance card called a “green card” which will be provided by the insurer.
  • It is always best to speak to your insurer directly before traveling to know your personal situation with regards to your coverage options.

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Car Insurance in the USA

UK citizens do not take their cars to the USA regularly unlike mainland Europe and so the insurance situation there can be quite different.

Most short term US visitors go for rental cars if they intend to drive. In such a case, your deal will include all your basic insurance requirements, though as ever in such situations it’s necessary you read the small print to find out exactly what the coverage entails. To get extended coverage, you may wish to pay a little more and the peace it brings. It is worthy of note that the same applies if you’re using an online car sharing service such as Turo or Zipcar, rather than renting outfits which are traditional.

You might be staying with friends, colleagues and may family members and you might be driving their car, in such a case, you should be covered by their insurance. In the United States, car insurance is tied to the car and not the individual driving the car but they should check with their insurers before letting you get behind the wheel.

There’s no need to take out specific insurance if you’re only visiting the US for a short term. But if you choose to stay longer, you will need to take out US insurance and that will generally mean getting your car registered in the US and /or obtaining a US driving license. Visiting drivers are not so commonly seen on US roads as they are in Europe, and because of that, some insurance companies are sometimes reluctant to insure foreign registered vehicles or drivers who hold oversees licenses

To make matters worse, the USA isn’t so much one nation as a collection of 50 smaller ones, each with their different state regulations. It is important to do a bit of research before you travel, in regards to what the exact requirements are in each state you’re visiting.

If you’ve decided that you need insurance, seek quotes from multiple providers, check their ratings on consumer reviews websites, and always read their small, which is very important.

It is important to note that some US insurance companies will take your driving history into consideration when setting your premiums while some won’t. So if you’ve held a clean license for 30 years and don’t want to pay the same sky-high premiums as a newly qualified 18-year-old, make sure you find one that does!

Car Insurance in Other Countries

In this article, we’ve focused more on the US and mainland Europe, and this is because the insurance market over there is huge but obviously people still do take their cars to other countries too. So what’s the deal over there?

It will be hard to answer this questions because there are so many countries in the world, each having their different set of requirements, rules and regulation. If you own a UK insurance, it will cover you to drive a short while in many non-EU countries, but in this case you will be required to provide a “green card“. This situation applies to individuals traveling to Russia, Israel, Iran, Turkey or most countries in Eastern Europe, for example.

If you plan to stay longer as it is in the US, you will probably be required to take out local insurance, which could mean re-registering your vehicle and/or obtaining a local license. It is always important to talk to your insurer before traveling as they will provide you with advice that’s specific to your destination, your vehicle and your driving history.