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

53 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. Debbie
    June 19, 2014 #

    My daughter is a college student in Nashville and we live in Illinois. Her permanent address is in Illinois. I just had my insurance company tell me that she will have to go on an individual policy when she goes back to school in the fall. The individual policy is a ridiculous amount of money for a six month period and she will only be at school in Nashville for less than 4 months then the car will come home (to Illinois) while she studies abroad. They said it is so expensive because she will not be getting the multi-car discount. This doesn't sound right to me…any suggestions?

  8. Debbie
    June 19, 2014 #

    By the way, Geico is the company and I switched to them a few days ago, paid the 6 months upfront then received an email to call them where they informed me of this. I would not have switched if I had this information because Geico will cost me MORE now.

  9. Chummie
    June 20, 2014 #

    Hello. I am Active Duty in the US Army and stationed in Kansas. My home of record is NJ. I have three cars. All cars are registered in the state of NJ. However, they are insured for Kansas. My Bro has one of my cars in his possession in NJ. That car has only Kansas liability insurance. He is not a listed driver in that car's policy. My insurance company prohibits it. How do I maintain ownership of that car while still providing NJ liability insurance for him? Thank you.

    • Rachael Heller
      September 24, 2014 #

      Hi Chummie,

      That's a tough one! We'd suggest contacting your insurance provider to find out the answer. You could also give one of our insurance experts a call at 1-800-Esurance (1-800-378-7262). Thanks for reading!

  10. 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!

  11. 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!

  12. Don
    July 3, 2014 #

    I am the legal owner of a car that is registered and insured in my state that my son drives in another state while he is there for a medical residency, about four years. He is listed as a driver for the car. In 2011 the USSC ruled that medical residents are employees rather than students. As a result he is considered an employee in the other state. Does this situation mean that we are required to acquire auto insurance and registration in the state where my son is?

  13. Liz
    July 7, 2014 #

    My son is in the Marines, stationed in Camp Pendleton, CA. His car is titled and insured in my name (with him listed as a driver) but I am shipping it to him in CA. Do I need to obtain insurance in CA and if so, can the car remain in my name? Or, can the car continue to be insured in IL, where we reside?

  14. Linda
    July 7, 2014 #

    I live in NY temporarily, unsure if and when returning to California. I drive a car registered under my mom (living in Cali). It has insurance from Cali. She cant easily fly to NY to register the car here. Besides, its pricier to do so in NY. So many fees associated. And unsure if its worth it or not in case I move back. What is the best suggestion/option? What should I do and how?

  15. Fran Houser
    July 10, 2014 #

    I live in Florida and summer in Ma. I own cars in both states can I register one in Fl and one in Ma. And would I be able to get 6 months insurance on both? Thanks Mrs. Houser

    • Rachael Heller
      September 24, 2014 #

      Hi Mrs. Houser,

      Because regulations differ based on state and situation, we recommend contacting your insurer directly. You can reach an Esurance insurance expert at 1-800-Esurance (1-800-378-7262). Thanks so much for reading!

  16. 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?

  17. eric
    July 25, 2014 #

    If I am financing a car here in florida can it be added to my moms current policy in new york

    • Rachael Heller
      September 24, 2014 #

      Hi Eric,

      Because regulations differ based on state and situation, we recommend contacting your insurer directly. If you're an Esurance customer, you can reach one of our representatives at 1-800-Esurance (1-800-378-7262). Thank you for reading!

  18. Doc
    August 9, 2014 #

    I live in Kentucky and plan to buy a used car from a private seller in Florida. Subsequently, within 2-3 days, I intend to drive the car to Kentucky for permanent registration and licensing. The FL DMV webpages are not clear as to the required "proof of insurance" necessary for issuing a temporary FL registration/license … i.e., will my Kentucky proof of insurance suffice or does FL law require in-state coverage?

  19. Ben
    August 9, 2014 #

    I am in the Military currently stationed in California, but my home of record is New York. I registered my car and insured it in NY before I shipped my vehicle to california. Should I or can I change my insurance to California? or keep the insurance matched with my registration which is NY. I currently use my vehicle in california

  20. Ty
    August 14, 2014 #

    My son lives in Texas car is registered in Texas . Can I insure his vehicle with my coverage in PA

  21. CAPA
    August 18, 2014 #

    My brother lives in CA and he's new in USA. I live in PA. He's planning to buy a car. But the insurance rates are very high since he's new. Can I get him on my insurance while we both live in CA & PA respectively?

  22. Natalie
    August 21, 2014 #

    My dad bought me a car and the title is fully under his name. Except we dont know how to get insurance because he lives in florida and i live with my mom… We need to get insurance fast. What can we do?

    • Jennifer Wood
      August 28, 2014 #

      Hi Natalie.

      We've got insurance experts standing by that can help you with your question! Give us a call at 1-800-Esurance (1-800-378-7262) to speak with one of our representatives today.

      Thanks for reading!

  23. chris
    August 28, 2014 #

    I purchased a brand new car for my daughter in Texas, our home state, she is going to college in virgina but still is declared a texas resident, and has a texas drivers license. What do I do about my car insurance? Do I have to make changes? the car(tax ,title ands tags) is in my name but she is listed as the primary driver.

    • Jennifer Wood
      August 28, 2014 #

      Hi Chris,
      If you're an Esurance policyholder and your daughter is listed on your policy, you should be good to go. However it's always a good idea to contact your insurance provider directly and let them know the situation so they're not surprised if she files a claim in Virginia.

      For more information, check out our post on car insurance and college-bound kids: http://blog.esurance.com/car-insurance-and-college/

  24. Roy
    August 29, 2014 #

    Hello, I own a car registered and insured in NY. My son who drives the car, attends school in PA. He is considering getting a PA drivers license, as he will relocate there for work. Can he use the car in PA with me being the owner and having it insured/registered in NY?

    Thanks.

    • Jennifer Wood
      September 2, 2014 #

      Hi Roy,
      While he is in school you should be OK, but it's best to contact your insurance provider directly to make them aware of the situation. I would also explain that your son has plans to relocate after school and ask for more information on how to insure the car at that point.

      Thanks!

  25. vanessa
    September 1, 2014 #

    Hi, I have a Michigan driver's license and registration and I currently -temporarily- live in Illinois and my insurance is in Illinois, my birthday is approaching and when I tried to renew my Michigan registration I was told that a Michigan insurance is required, so what do I do now if I'm I'm not ready to change my driver's license and my plate registration ( I don't want to do that until I know that I'll be living in Illinois permanently)??

    • Jennifer Wood
      September 2, 2014 #

      Hi Vanessa,
      Michigan requires that Proof of Michigan no-fault insurance must be submitted if you're purchasing or renewing a Michigan license plate. My recommendation would be to contact your insurance provider directly and explain the situation. They should be able to advise you in what steps to take next.

      If you're an Esurance policyholder, give us a call at 1-800-378-7262. Our expert customer service reps are standing by 24/7.
      Thanks for reading!

  26. Paul
    September 2, 2014 #

    With regards to Military insuring a car, the comment in the FAQ section states:

    With Esurance, active-duty military can have a policy set up in any state they want — regardless of where they’re currently stationed.

    If I am assigned in Virginia and my car is garaged there and I want to have my car registered in NY and my insurance also there, will my rates be based on my Virginia address or a NY address at which I have not lived at for 30 years or more?

  27. Raymond Dalessandro
    September 2, 2014 #

    HI! Here's one for ya: I live in New Jersey. My wife just took a job in Maryland, and is staying with a friend down there. We don't know how long she will keep the job, and she still has a New Jersey driver's license so is still officially a New Jersey resident. The car title is issued by New Jersey, and has us both as co-owners. The car is still registered in New Jersey. Since the car is now being garaged in Maryland, we took the car off of my policy, and my wife had it insured with a Maryland insurance company. Was that correct to do? One further thing: At this point we want to change the title to show her as the sole owner. Knowing the point where we are at this time, How should we proceed?

  28. Mandy
    September 8, 2014 #

    Hi,
    My husband and I leased a car in Ohio, and then moved to PA shortly after. Since it is a lease, can we keep it registered in Ohio even thought our drivers license and insurance says PA?

  29. Lorrie Corsi
    September 9, 2014 #

    Live in one state for 3 months and in another for 9 months. Can I insure 1 vehicle in one state (leaving that vehicle in that state) and insure another vehicle in another state (leaving that vehicle in that state).

  30. gretchen carroll
    September 18, 2014 #

    we have 3 children (college students) on our auto insurance policy from the state of wisconsin. we have just moved to illinois. all 3 children are now residing in different states from us (wi, mi, mn). we are being told that for the children to stay on our policy all cars must have ill plates and the children must obtain ill drivers license's. is this correct?

  31. Bill Eckardt
    September 19, 2014 #

    we currently live in PA and have a house and two cars registered and insured there. We also own a second home on FL where we only take one car when we go and are looking to become FL residents. We spend about 6 months in each place. Can we still leave our cars insured in PA along with our second house or can we just switch the registration on the car we take?

  32. dawna Forrest
    September 25, 2014 #

    If your moving to a new state do you need to switch over to a new license first before you can get insurance?

  33. Lauren
    September 30, 2014 #

    Hi there,
    So I moved from AZ to ND to attend school this last semester and was there from April to September, I'm still attending school there but I moved to Michigan. According to what I thought was correct I had to change my registration plates after six months, so they are still under Arizona registration. I updated my insurance policy that I am in Michigan, but since my car is registered in Arizona, and I'm attending school here in the spring, it is necessary for me to have Michigan insurance? or to switch my registration over?

  34. Duc Nguyen
    October 4, 2014 #

    We have a problem. I bought my daughter a car in Florida in my name with balance still outstanding. The car was insured in FL under my policy. She moved briefly to Texas and got insurance in Texas under her own policy. Now she's moved to NY and cannot get insurance in to register the car. My FL agent said they can't help since the car left FL. What advice can you give? Thanks

  35. Melissa
    October 15, 2014 #

    I'm from CT but recently moved to MA to be with my boyfriend. I will be getting a MA license soon. All of my vehicles except one are registered and insured in MA under both my and my boyfriend's names. I have a classic firebird registered and insured in CT only in my name that I left at my parent's house in CT when I moved. This car stays in CT most of the year. I asked my insurance agent if I had to change everything over to MA since I moved there but he said I should be able to leave everything the way it is since the car itself will be staying in CT. When I get my MA license and hand in my CT one will I run into problems? I'm just unsure of what happens when I get my new license and CT sees that I never changed my registration or insurance over to MA. Does your vehicle insurance and reg have to match your license? Is my agent right that it shouldn't be an issue since the car is staying in CT?

    • Jennifer Wood
      October 15, 2014 #

      Hey Melissa,
      Congrats on your move!
      It sounds like you already spoke with your insurance agent about this, which is what I would have recommended. Laws about insurance and registration vary from state to state, and some insurance companies have different requirements than others.

      If you're not satisfied with the response you got from your insurance agent, 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 answer your tough questions.

      Thanks for reading.

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