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

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

  1. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Patrick Gilmartin
    April 14, 2016 #


    I'm currently a 23 year old full time graduate student in the State of Virginia. I would like to move my residency from New York to Virginia. Right now, I use my mom's car under her auto insurance policy (she's a NY state resident, NY registration and NY insurance). After I get a Virginia licence, I'd like to open my own Virginia auto insurance policy and remain the secondary driver (I will not be driving the car in NY state and will be returning the car to her after I graduate, she will still have her NY insurance).

    Will I be able to do this?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      April 18, 2016 #

      Hello Patrick,

      We would suggest calling and speaking to a licensed agent regarding this situation. There are many factors that would need to be considered in order to provide you with the best answer for your circumstances.

      Thanks for reading.

  2. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    April 15, 2016 #

    We own houses in multiple states. We use one state as our residence where we register and insure our vehicles, but leave a vehicle at each one of our houses. What are, if any , problems concerning the insurance of our vehicles? Thanks

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      April 18, 2016 #

      Hello Mike,

      Your policies would need to be written for the sate where they’re parked for the majority of the year. You'll also want to call and speak to your agent directly for more policy specific details.

      Thanks for reading.

  3. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    April 15, 2016 #

    I have a car registered in Florida but it is housed and driven in Pennsylvania. We were told that since we are Florida residents it had to be registered in Florida but needed PA insurance. Now we are being told that since it is housed in PA that we must register it in PA. Do you have any answers to this?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      April 18, 2016 #

      Hello Zoe,

      Great question. We always suggest that your vehicle be insured and registered for the state where it's driven. You'll want to speak to your insurance agent directly for more policy specific answers to your concerns.

      Thanks for reading.

  4. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Jen Lee
    April 15, 2016 #

    Hi, I live in NYC with a car registered & insured in NY state. My car however is stored and driven in NJ (finding parking in the city is such a pain). Quick call to insurance company & find my rates would be cut by two thirds if insured in Jersey! Seems like an easy decision, but realize the car's title, registration, and prob my driver's license would have to be changed to NJ. Problem is, cannot lose NY driver's license for work/school reasons. Can I keep my NY driver's license, but have the car registered and insured in NJ?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      April 18, 2016 #

      Hello Jen Lee,

      As far as insurance requirements, we would ask that your policy be written for the state where it’s driven for the majority of the year. Typically, your registration would need to match as well. Your best option would be to speak to your local agent and also contact both DMVs.

      Thanks for reading.

  5. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    April 16, 2016 #

    I moved from NY to CT and insured my car in CT but didn't register it. I just found out that my NY registration and license was suspended. I paid the license suspension termination fee and surrendered the plates in NY but they are saying I can't register the car again for almost a year. It's my only source of transportation. Is there anything I can do about this to legally get my car registered in CT and make sure my license doesn't stay suspended? Can I sell the car and get a new car or am I totally stuck? This seems like a pretty severe punishment.

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      April 18, 2016 #


      That’s a tough situation. We would suggest speaking to a supervisor with the CT DMV to get answers.

      Thanks for reading.

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