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.

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

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

  1. kimberly
    April 11, 2014 #

    I have questions about car insurance I have a permit and bought a car the title is under my name but my uncle registered it im from nyc but moving to ohio I have my coverage until nov and I also pay a broker. My question is can I change the plates my own self with his insurance and info of course I have to change my address in the insurance or would he have to do it?

    • Ellen Hall
      April 15, 2014 #

      Hi Kimberly,
      Since the car title is in your name, the simplest thing would be for you to register it in Ohio yourself, and get insurance in Ohio. New York requires that cars insured in NY also be registered in NY, so you won’t be able to keep your NY insurance once you move.

      Hope this helps!

  2. Noah
    April 16, 2014 #

    Hello! I'm from British Columbia. My plan is to insure a car here in B.C. and then bring it down to California and leave it at my moms house in Palm Springs while I travel by plane back and forth a number of times per year. ICBC(our insurance provider) says all they require is to have that vehicle come back to Canada once per year for renewal. They said that California may have its own restrictions as to the maximum amount of time that a vehicle may be there before being required to be transferred to California registration and this varies from state to state. How long is this time? I still have intentions of using this vehicle in Canada for more than half the time. I can't find this info anywhere…thanks!

    • Ellen Hall
      April 17, 2014 #

      Hi Noah,
      Canadian insurance is valid on both sides of the border (just like U.S. insurance) so if a Canadian visitor is driving in the U.S. their coverage will apply just as it does in Canada. But there are exceptions:

      1) If you have dual residences in both countries, you may need to either have a separate insurance policy for each residence, or update your registration and insurance whenever you go back and forth. It sounds like you would be staying with your mother while in California, but if you rent or lease a home or apartment there, you would be considered a resident.

      2) If you’re employed in California, the state may consider you a resident and would require you to get California registration (followed by California insurance) within 20 days. For complete residency requirements, visit dmv.ca.gov. Under vehicle registration, click “New to California” and then “How to Register a Vehicle from Out-of-State.”

      If you’re leaving the vehicle in CA for your mother to drive it, you might want to consider switching the registration and insurance to her name. If it’s garaged at her home and she is the primary driver, the insurance policy should reflect that. If you’re simply storing the vehicle in CA so that you can drive it when you visit your mom, then you may not have to register it or insure it in CA.

      Hope this helps!

  3. Andres C
    April 30, 2014 #

    Hi, I've borrowed a car long term from a family member and have been listed as a driver on their insurance. The car is registered and insured in Maryland but I drive it in Pennsylvania year round. Are we required to transfer the title and get the car registered and insured in Pennsylvania if this is where it is kept? The car has nearly no value at this point so we'd prefer not to go through the hassle if it's not a requirement. Thank you!

    • Ellen Hall
      May 1, 2014 #

      Hi Andres,
      Most insurance companies want a vehicle to be insured where the vehicle is primarily garaged, if only to ensure the policy is rated accurately. Some companies will allow a vehicle to be garaged out-of-state but others will not (Esurance doesn’t). So the vehicle’s owner would want to check with their insurance company to find out their requirements.

      Here’s what the PennDOT website has to say about a vehicle owned by a non-resident but driven in Pennsylvania:
      “A nonresident owner of any foreign vehicle may operate or permit the operation of the vehicle within this Commonwealth without registering the vehicle in this Commonwealth or paying any fees to the Commonwealth, provided the vehicle at all times when operated in this Commonwealth is duly registered and in full compliance with the registration requirements of the place of residence of the owner.”

      So if the owner’s insurance company is ok with the situation, you should be fine. But if the insurance company cancels the policy or denies a claim because the vehicle is not kept in the policy state, that could cause issues with the Maryland registration. You may also face fines or have your drivers license suspended if you’re not able to provide proof of insurance if you’re pulled over or in an accident. Also, Maryland may require a vehicle inspection to renew the registration, which may not be possible if the vehicle is not in Maryland.

      Long story short; the car’s owner should check with their insurance company and let them know what’s going on, and make adjustments to the situation from there if needed.

      Hope this answers your question.

  4. Laney Dee
    June 6, 2014 #

    We live in Delaware full-time but are building a cabin in the Colorado mountains during the summer months. We have a Jeep that is insured in Delaware but garaged in Colorado during the months we are not there. Our insurance agent let us change our policy in November to have just the basic insurance for the period it is garaged and credited us for the premium we had already paid. It was to be re-instated with full coverage on June 17. We just received a notice yesterday that our agent reinstated our policy on May 12, without our knowledge, and now he is back-charging for the month of May along with the six-month premium beginning June 17. Is this legal? Is there a law that says you can only garage a car out-of-state for six months? I am about ready to contact our insurance commissioner over this, but want to know if I am wrong. If we could not garage the car for more than six months, why did he originally say that we could?

    • Jennifer Wood
      June 10, 2014 #

      Hi Laney,
      Each insurance company has different procedures when it comes to updating policies. If you've already reviewed your policy contract to see what it says about out-of-state usage, you may want to call your insurance provider to speak with someone directly.

  5. liscor
    June 10, 2014 #

    i'm visiting my family in florida and working part time while i am here, i have auto ins, auto inspection, and my auto is register at my primary address which is in Texas. my question is how long can i stay in the state of Florida? will my ins drop me if i stay longer than 6 mo. and do i have to have an auto inspected if I'm not there.

    • Jessica Guerin
      June 13, 2014 #

      Thanks for your question. We suggest notifying your insurance company that you’ll be living in another state for an extended period. Since every insurance company is different, they can help you determine what’s best for your specific situation.

      Generally speaking, however, if you live and work in Florida for a period of more than 6 months, you need to set up residency. Holding a job in Florida is one way to be considered a resident. Once you establish residency, Florida law states that you have 10 days to update your registration and insurance.

      In order to set up registration with the Florida DMV, you’ll need a Florida insurance policy and a vehicle inspection. Some counties in Florida also require a separate insurance inspection if you want to insure a vehicle with physical coverage (e.g. comprehensive and/or collision coverage).

      The Texas DMV website also states that drivers residing out of state should register their vehicle in the jurisdiction where they currently live. Once you go back to Texas, you should be able to update the vehicle registration and insurance in Texas again.

      I hope this helps!

  6. Detire
    June 12, 2014 #

    I live in Philadelphia but have a car I keep garaged in CA but have registered in PA I go there once a month for work anywhere between 4days -2weeks at a time max do you know of any insurance companies that will let me garage my car in CA but register it in PA? I don;t live in CA or have a address there can I insurance it in my home state?

    • Jessica Guerin
      June 13, 2014 #

      Hi Detire,

      Since every insurance company works a little differently, your best bet is to start by calling your current insurance company and asking about their garaging requirements.

      You may also want to check with the California DMV. According to their site, "A vehicle must be registered in California if it is based in California or is primarily used on California highways (located or operated in this state for a greater amount of time than any other individual state during the registration period), even if registered to a nonresident owner." (http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/brochures/howto/htvr33.htm) If the vehicle is both registered and garaged in California, you’ll most likely be able to buy a California insurance policy even if it isn’t your primary place of residence.

      You can also check with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to find out if it’s okay to keep your PA registration. However, this situation is a little more complicated. Since the vehicle is driven in California, it should have a California insurance policy. That said, California insurance may not be considered sufficient to meet Pennsylvania registration requirements.

      After you’ve figured out the best solution for your situation, an insurance broker, like our sister company Answer Financial, can help you comparison shop and find a company that can provide the combination of coverages you need.

      I hope that helps!

  7. Ernie C
    July 1, 2014 #

    It may be repetitive but here it goes; My college-age son will be in Colorado for 4 months doing some volunteer work. We live in California and have a vehicle registered and insured in CA. I checked with the insurance and they're ok with it but are not sure if Colorado is ok with an out-of-state policy during that time. Any feedback on Colorado's regulations re. this this, and i could not find it anywhere on their DMV's webpage?

    • Jessica Guerin
      July 1, 2014 #

      Hi Ernie,
      That's a great question. The state of Colorado considers you a resident if you live there continuously for 90 days. However, you then have another 90 days to obtain Colorado registration. Since your son will be in Colorado for 4 months, he would technically be considered a resident. But since in total he has 6 months to update the vehicle registration, he would probably be okay keeping his California registration and insurance for the duration of the volunteer program. If you're still feeling unsure, however, you could try calling the Colorado DMV to make sure. I hope this helps!

  8. Jamar G
    July 3, 2014 #

    I have a NY state license but currently attending school in Florida I'm looking to insure purchase register and title a car here. Will that cause a problem?

    • blogStaffProd1
      July 8, 2014 #

      Hi Jamar. Each state differs on their residency rules, especially for students, so your best bet is to get in touch with the Florida DMV and ask about their requirements. If you plan to call Florida home for an extended period, they may require you to get a Florida drivers license. If you register and title the car in FL, you'll also need to purchase a FL insurance policy. Good luck in your studies!

  9. Katy
    July 16, 2014 #

    My daughter goes to school in Florida and we just bought a car we live in NY. I want her to take the car to Florida for one semester( maybe 2) . I called my insurance broker and she said car should be insured where it is garaged . The car is registered in my name and she is an additional driver on my policy. She might only have car down in Florida for 6 months. What's happens if we don't change registration and insurance?

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