Out-of-State Car Insurance: Everything You Need to Know

In Part One of our FAQs series, we provide expert answers your questions about out-of-state car insurance.

Car keys sitting on a map.

One of our goals at Esurance is to help demystify the often-complicated world of insurance. But, some topics are trickier (and generate more questions) than others.

That’s okay, though, because at Esurance we have experts. Lots of ‘em.

So when our out-of-state insurance post received a lot of questions, Nicole D., one of our many experts, provided answers to some of the most common inquiries.

(Please note: these are general guidelines. Regulations vary widely across the country, so you should always confirm your local insurance requirements with your state.)

Out-of-state car insurance: frequently asked questions

I bought a car for my brother who lives in another state. It’s registered in his state but insured in mine. The DMV didn’t have a problem with this — is it an issue?

It might become one. Some form of insurance is generally required in order to register your car, and while some states may allow you to register without immediate proof of in-state insurance, you’ll usually be expected to provide it within a specified time.

Also, most insurers require that your insurance policy be issued in the state where your car is located, and your policy status may be affected if your insurer finds that the vehicle is garaged in another state.

So, if your brother’s state doesn’t receive regular documentation of coverage for the car, he could eventually face fines or suspension from his state’s DMV.

I’m in the military and am currently stationed in one state, but my home of record is in another state. Can I insure my policy with my home address? Or do I use the address of where I’m stationed?

Typically, military personnel are allowed to have a declared state of residence. With Esurance, active-duty military can have a policy set up in any state they want — regardless of where they’re currently stationed.

But, keep in mind that the state where the vehicle is registered may want the insurance to be specific for that state.

I’m currently in college out of state, but my truck is still registered at my parent’s address. Can I keep my home-state insurance?

Most states require your car to be insured in the state where it’s registered, and registrations typically need to match the driver’s current address. But, it’s worth checking with your insurer to see if they have special options for students attending school out of state.

At Esurance, if a student starts out listed on a policy and will be temporarily attending school at another address, we allow them to remain on the original policy as long as their vehicle is still registered at the original address.

I’m temporarily working in another state (for a year or less). My car is still registered in my home state, but I have insurance in the state where I’m working. Is that a problem?

Even if you eventually plan to return to your home state, you’re usually considered a resident of your current state if you’re gainfully employed, renting or buying a home or apartment, and/or living there for more than a few months.

Depending on the state, you must register your vehicle within a certain period of time (anywhere from immediately to 90 days) after establishing residency. Some states, such as New York, also require you to be insured in that state before registering.

Because regulations vary from state to state, you should check with the DMV’s requirements wherever you’re working.

My daughter is moving to a new state soon. She’s currently on my insurance. How do we update her car’s title, registration, and insurance in her new state if I’m the primary owner of the car?

If the vehicle is currently registered to you, there are a few different ways this may work out.

1. Since you’re the title holder, the new state may allow the vehicle to remain registered solely to you, even though you don’t reside in that state. In this case, you’d likely be considered the primary driver on her insurance and she’d be a listed driver.

2. The new state may allow the vehicle registration to be transferred via gift or sale so your daughter becomes the sole registered owner. In this scenario, your daughter could buy her own insurance and act as the policyholder.

3. The new state may allow the vehicle to be registered to both you and your daughter, where you are still the primary registered owner. Similar to the first scenario, you’d be considered the primary driver on the insurance policy and your daughter would be the secondary driver.

4. The new state may allow the vehicle to be registered to both you and your daughter, where she is the new primary registered owner. If you choose this option, your daughter would be the primary driver on her insurance, but you’d still need to be listed as a driver as well.

If there’s no compelling reason for you to stay on the registration, the second option is generally the simplest option. But, if you need to be on the registration because you’re on the vehicle loan or lease, you’ll need to check with your daughter’s new state to see what options they have available.

Have more questions about out-of-state insurance?

Ask away in the comment section below and we’ll get you an answer ASAP.

And if you’re moving and need new insurance (or are just shopping for a better rate), you can get a free online quote from us right now!

Related posts

Driving out of state: Does your car insurance travel with you?
SR-22 explained: what is it and when do you need one?
Excluded drivers: our expert answers your questions

128 Responses to “Out-of-State Car Insurance: Everything You Need to Know”

  1. Raja
    February 24, 2015 #


    I have a car registered in Illinois state(currently on Lien status) and insured with the same state.
    My wife is a added driver and I'm the primary, Recently I have moved to Florida and bought another car for local commutation, driver license has changed and got a new policy with a different carrier. In this scenario I have two questions

    1. Can my wife use the Illinois car for commutation with the same policy ? Is it legal ?
    2. Can some one keep two cars registered in two different states ? Is this legal ?

    • Rachael Heller
      February 26, 2015 #

      Hi Raja,

      Great questions! Rules and regulations vary from state to state. Please feel free to give us a call at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262). Our insurance experts are standing by 24/7 and can help you get this figured out.

      Thanks for reading.

  2. Jack Krielen
    March 1, 2015 #

    Hi. I am a citizin from the Netherlands(amsterdam) We have a vacation house in southlake, Texas. we have bought two cars for myself and spouse. i can stay 3 month per period in the USA up to 6 month annually.on my Tourist visa. Where can I get car insurance for the cars. I do not qualify for a drivers license because I am not a resident alien. I used to have Texas drivers license as a student 1972-1974, then a NY license up to 1980.
    where do all the people with vacation homes in florida and California get their insurance?
    My dealer and State Farm can not help. Geigo neither.
    Jack krielen, Southlake Texas, krielenj@gmail.com. 817-3079447
    Thanks for helping

    • Rachael Heller
      March 10, 2015 #

      Hi Jack,

      Please feel free to give us a call at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262). Our insurance experts are standing by 24/7 to help with any questions you might have!

      Thanks for reading.

  3. Brenda Michanczyk
    March 1, 2015 #

    I own a car that I let my daughter use. The car is in my name and registered in and insured in CT. She has been living in CA for the past 6 months and has decided to stay there. The car is with her in CA. I do not want to give her the car. Does it need to be registered in CA or can I continue to register and insure it in CT?

    • Rachael Heller
      March 10, 2015 #

      Hi Brenda,

      Great question! As an insurance company, to make sure that you are covered adequately for where the vehicle is located and used, we would want the vehicle covered by a CA policy. In terms of registration requirements, the DMV would be your best source.

      Thanks for reading!

  4. toya
    March 9, 2015 #

    I have insurance in my brother name but the car in my name. …

  5. Dino
    March 10, 2015 #

    I got a question to get a better deal and cause my credit sucks my new car is under my wifes sisters name. We plan on moving to texas what steps should i take to register car in Texas!! tIA

    • Rachael Heller
      April 8, 2015 #

      Hi Dino,

      For a specific question like this, I'd recommending going to your local Department of Motor Vehicles and speaking with an expert. You can also feel free to call our insurance experts at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262).

      Thanks for reading!

  6. Gary
    March 21, 2015 #

    My daughter lives in Colorado & has a CO drivers license. She is currently driving a car owned by her father in WI & registered in WI. Is this legal?

    • Rachael Heller
      April 8, 2015 #

      Hi Gary,

      As long as your daughter has permission to use the vehicle, it’s legal. There are a number of other elements that could affect the situation and the full answer, however. Is your daughter a student away at school? Are you selling her the car? Do you intend to re-register the vehicle in CO? The answers would affect which direction we would go. Please feel free to call our insurance experts at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262) to have these questions answered. They're standing by 24/7 to help get you the information you need.

      Thanks for reading.

  7. paul
    March 24, 2015 #

    my car is registered and insured in Florida and I work in New York is there any problem with that. but I own a home in Florida. and live in an apartment in New York is there a problem and what can happen?

    • Rachael Heller
      April 8, 2015 #

      Hello Paul,

      If the vehicle is primarily garaged (used) in NY, you may want to seriously consider changing the registration to NY and insuring it there. This would avoid any issues with rating and possible DMV issues.

      Thanks for reading!

  8. dawn shearouse
    March 25, 2015 #

    I am a "snow bird" I spend 6mo in ga and 6 6mo in sc how do I do my insurance?

    • Rachael Heller
      April 8, 2015 #

      Hello Dawn,

      This would depend on where the car is registered. You would want to have the vehicle insured in the state where it’s registered to avoid any issues with the DMV.

      You can also feel free to call our insurance experts at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262). They're standing by 24/7 to help get you the information you need.

      Thanks for reading.

  9. abebe
    April 2, 2015 #

    Hi. I live in new jersey and have a car insurance written for new jersey. my husband has a new york drivers license. can i have him listed as an operator on the declaration page?

    • Rachael Heller
      April 13, 2015 #

      Hi Abebe,

      Yes, however if you are living in New Jersey, you will want to consider switching your drivers license to avoid any issues with the DMVs.

      Thanks for reading.

  10. Larry
    April 3, 2015 #

    I own a home in Georgia and my wifes new job requires us to be in Arizona for 18 months of training. As soon as it's over, were going back home. Can I avoid registering the cars in Arizona? I'm thinking if I'm pulled over, I still have Georgia residency proof..

    • Rachael Heller
      April 13, 2015 #

      Hi Larry,

      This issue would be best addressed by the Arizona DMV. Thanks for reading!

  11. Megan
    April 7, 2015 #

    I am a current resident of Alaska. I will be moving to Pennsylvania in a year and a half, but I am spending the summer there this year and plan to purchase a vehicle. The car will stay at my mother's house for the year. How can I legally insure it? Should my mom be the registered owner? Does she just need to be a driver? Can we use her car insurance for my car? What would I need to do to be able to legally drive the car in Pennsylvania while maintaining my own Alaska residency until next year? I do not currently have my own insurance policy in PA or AK.

    • Rachael Heller
      April 13, 2015 #

      Hi Megan,

      The best option is to register and insure the vehicle in the state where it will be used. If the vehicle is going to be registered in PA, adding the car and yourself to your mother's policy should be an option. We recommend that you consult with your mother's insurance carrier to be certain. Thanks for reading.

  12. Ditzy
    April 9, 2015 #

    I have a florida license can I buy, register and insure the car in massachusetts. Please help.

    • Rachael Heller
      April 22, 2015 #

      Hi Ditzy,

      If you live in Massachusetts and keep the vehicle at your residence in Massachusetts, then yes, you may register and insure the vehicle in Massachusetts.

      Thanks for reading.

  13. Gina
    April 11, 2015 #

    I currently own car that is registered and insured a state I visit often, but don't live in. My insurance company recently dropped my insurance.
    Are you not allowed to register and insure a car in a state you don't live in?

    • Rachael Heller
      April 22, 2015 #

      Hi Gina,

      No, you are not allowed to register and insure a vehicle in a state you do not reside.

      Thanks for reading.

  14. Mike Norman
    April 12, 2015 #

    Michigan insurance is to high but my dad stays in ohio where I travel a lot can I get my insurance out of ohio since it's cheaper I work but can't afford michigan car insurance what should I do

    • Rachael Heller
      April 22, 2015 #

      Hi Mike,

      If you reside in Michigan and keep your vehicles at your Michigan residence, you are required to purchase a Michigan auto insurance policy. Unless you move in with your Dad in Ohio, you will not be able to use your Dad's address in Ohio to avoid paying Michigan insurance costs.

      Thanks for reading.

  15. Deb Patterson
    April 15, 2015 #

    My boss is moving from Maryland to Arizona. He wants to keep a car at a friend's home in Maryland for his visits back. Can he register and insure in Maryland without a Maryland address (or will he need to use his friend's address, and what are the implications of that?).

    • Rachael Heller
      April 22, 2015 #

      Hi Deb,

      Generally speaking, if your boss is not a resident of the state in which he wishes to register and insure a vehicle, he will not be able to do either. He should not use his friend's address as that would be considered insurance fraud.

      Thanks for reading.

  16. CPA
    April 16, 2015 #

    I inherited a car when my parents died in Michigan – Dad's insurance added me as a driver which allowed me to transfer the title to myself in Michigan. However, I live in Texas. I plan to move the car to Texas in July however Dad's insurance cannot renew his policy (as he's dead) and it expires next week.

    I call my insurance company in Texas to add the car and they said since it is going to be more than 45 days before the car was in Texas I had to register it in Michigan, their Michigan office would not issue insurance to me as my residency is in Texas. I can't transfer the car to a Texas Title until it's in Texas to get a State Inspection. Is this residency thing a Michigan State law or just a company policy? I'm at a loss – unless I just wait until closer to July to get Texas Insurance on it! However it will be in Michigan in storage without insurance. Not a good option.

    • Rachael Heller
      April 22, 2015 #

      Hello CPA,

      Generally speaking, if you are not a resident of the state in which you wish to register and insure a vehicle, you will not be able to do either. You must register and insure the vehicle in the state in which you are reside.

      If the vehicle is not in use and will be stored until you take it Texas, we would recommend purchasing storage insurance for the vehicle.

      Once you are ready to drive the vehicle to Texas, we recommend adding the vehicle to your Texas auto insurance policy at that time so you have coverage for the trip and thereafter.

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