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

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

  1. ja
    November 1, 2014 #

    I'm in graduate school in one state and there 9 months of the year. But my license, tag, car registration is in another state. Do I get car insurance in my home state, or my graduate school state?

    Also, I do not want to change my license, tag, etc to the graduate school state, I'd like to keep my home state residency.

  2. H. Donaldson
    November 2, 2014 #

    I just moved from MD. TO MA. how long do I have before I have to change lic. And reg. And ins.

  3. Spirit
    November 6, 2014 #

    My question is similar to one above but I'm still having no luck. My car is registered in NY under my dads name and I have the car in another state (TN). He is the owner on the loan and they will not transfer it to my name or allow me to be a second name on the loan. I would like to register or at least insure the car in the state that the car and I are in. I have spoke to numerous insurance agencies, DMV in both states and the car dealership and nobody had any answers. My dad could say that he lives part time in my state…? We are willing to do anything because I have been driving with NY plates and with overdue NY inspection sticker. Any help would be appreciated! I am willing to change to any insurance company that knows how to do it.

    • Jennifer Wood
      November 7, 2014 #


      While it sounds like you've talked to a few experts already, I highly recommending giving our awesome customer service reps a call at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262). They're standing by 24/7, ready to help you with all your insurance questions.


  4. Mary Sue Ramey
    November 10, 2014 #

    My daughter is associated with Harvard University in Boston and is working as a resident there. Her permanent address is still her home address in Virginia. She recently took her car to Boston but it is still registered in Virginia and on my family policy (I confirmed with her insurance carrier that this was approved by them). An interesting question surfaces: will she be able to get the car inspected in Boston, MA, if it is still registered and insured in Virginia (her home state)?

    • Jennifer Wood
      November 10, 2014 #

      Hi Mary Sue!
      Stuff like that can be tricky and changes based on state and insurance company. My recommendation would be to have your daughter give her insurance company a call just to make sure she's got the appropriate coverage.

      Thanks for reading.

    November 20, 2014 #

    I will be borrowing my brother-in-laws car while being in Tennessee for Christmas. I am insured with Allstate in Florida. Will my insurance cover me driving his car in Tennessee?

  6. Sekou Diane
    December 5, 2014 #

    does Michigan law require their residents to have in state auto insurance only?

    • Jennifer Wood
      December 8, 2014 #

      We'd love to help with your Michigan insurance question. Please give our insurance experts a call at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262).

      Thanks for reading.

  7. Ed Anderson
    December 9, 2014 #

    We are getting ready to move to Texas from Virginia. We will be moving 2 of our cars to Texas but leaving one behind for our son to use at college in Virginia. The car will not go to Texas so I would not be able to get Texas plates so I imagine they need to stay as Virginia plates. I am not sure how to handle the Insurance. My son does not have a job but is over 18. Can you offer ideas?

    • Jennifer Wood
      December 15, 2014 #

      Hi Ed,
      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. Have you contacted you insurance provider yet? They'll be able to help decide whether or not you'll need to make changes to your insurance policy. If you'd like, feel free to give our experts a call at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262).

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