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

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

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

    Hello,

    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
    Mike
    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
    Zoe
    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
    HB
    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 #

      Hello,

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

      Thanks for reading.

  6. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Ryan
    April 28, 2016 #

    I will be full time rv ing. I am a resident of Oregon and have switched my dl to a continuous traveler's license. Along with mailing address to a p.o. box. I plan on exploring every state for the next 2 years. No specific time in any state. I am ready to go… But my Insurance Company ( Progressive ) said my truck and 5th wheel needs to be in Oregon 50% of the time to be insured. I have called other insurance companies that have said the same thing. Is there a special insurance company out there that is travel friendly?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      May 5, 2016 #

      Hello Ryan,

      Your best option would be to attain quotes from a few different agencies that cover RVs to see what options they would have for you.

  7. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Brian
    April 29, 2016 #

    Hi,

    I just switched my drivers license for medical purposes for the short term But my car still has insurance from my old state. What will happen now? I would like to keep my insurance as is and I will change my id back at a later date to match.

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      May 5, 2016 #

      Hello Brian,

      There are a lot of factors to consider in this situation. We would suggest calling your agent directly to discuss your options.

  8. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Karen
    May 1, 2016 #

    My daughter is trying to lease a car in NY and within a month moving to Texas to join her husband in the military. Can she lease in Ny but have them register and insure car for Texas?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      May 5, 2016 #

      Hello Karen,

      We generally request that a vehicle be registered and insured for the state where it’s driven during the majority of the year. Your daughter may need to re-register and insure the vehicle in TX once she moves.

  9. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Gresell Wedel
    May 3, 2016 #

    My son moved from CA to NJ 2 years ago to live with his father and attend college. He became a NJ resident. His father is going to gift him a used car, but said he would not cover his insurance any longer. I live in CA. Can I, his mother, insure the car once it is under his name under our policy in CA while he is attending college in NJ?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      May 5, 2016 #

      Hello,

      Great question, Gresell. Your best option would be to have the car insured for the state of NJ. The laws of insurance between CA and NJ are vastly different and you would want to make sure he’s properly covered in case of a loss.

  10. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Mercy
    May 4, 2016 #

    Can you have an out of state car insurance even if you do not live or work in that state?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      May 5, 2016 #

      Hello Mercy,

      We would suggest making sure you’re always insuring your car for the state where it’s parked/driven for the majority of the year. Each state’s laws are different on what you’re required to carry. This ensures that if you have a claim, there is less possibility of your claim being denied.

  11. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Cardo
    May 5, 2016 #

    I'm in the marine corps I plan to buy a car in North Carolina and get on my dads insurance policy so it can be better for me in the long run, will that be a problem?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Cardo
      May 5, 2016 #

      He is where my address of record is which is in Georgia…. Thanks for the help in advance .

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      May 16, 2016 #

      Hello Cardo,

      Regarding your question about coverage, you would want to make sure that your car is registered and insured for the state where it’s driven. However, some companies have exceptions for military members and it could depend on what your home state is. You would want to speak to your insurance company directly for more specific answers to this question as the rules may vary from company to company.

  12. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Lucy DeMarco
    May 9, 2016 #

    I am a CA resident. My daughters live in MN and I want to buy & register a car in MN (at her address) to use when I visit. Can I get insurance in MN to do that?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      May 16, 2016 #

      Great question, Lucy. If your car is going to be driven in MN, you would want it registered and insured for the address where it will be kept when you’re in the state. Also, you would want to ensure anyone who would have access to the vehicle is also listed on that policy.

  13. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Sarah
    May 9, 2016 #

    Hello,

    I am currently employed for a year in Michigan (recent grad school grad) before going back to school. I am still considered a Wisconsin resident. I would like to buy and title a car in WI, however, the car will be primarily driven in MI. Can I insure my car in MI with it titled in WI? I do not intend to declare residency in Michigan.

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      May 16, 2016 #

      Hello Sarah,

      You would want to make sure your car is registered and insured for the state where it's driven most of the time. Part of this reason is due to the fact that Insurance laws are vastly different between WI and MI and if you do not have the proper coverage, you may have issues with a claim being covered.

  14. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    David Gaskey
    May 13, 2016 #

    I am currently living in New York with my Dad and want to get a driver's license, however next month I am moving to my Mom's in Georgia. In September I will be returning to New York for college but I will not be living with my Dad, I will be on campus. Can I get a license here in New York but get put on my Mom's insurance in Georgia. Thank you, I know this is complicated.

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      May 16, 2016 #

      Hello David,

      We can only speak to the insurance coverage specifically. However, you would generally want your car insured for the state where it’s driven for the majority of the year. You would want to speak to your parent’s insurance agents as there are sometimes exceptions for students away at school.

  15. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Kara
    May 13, 2016 #

    So while I was moving to Florida, my car broke down and I had to by a new one. But my mother had to co sign on the car so she is primarily the owner and I am the 2nd. We had the car registered in Michigan and had a plate transfer to the new car. I'm currently living in Florida with a Florida drivers license and Florida Insurance but the car it's self is registered to my mother in Michigan because she's primary the owner yet I pay the bills and all bills are in my name. Is it ok for my car to be registered in Michigan but have Florida insurance and Florida license.

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      May 16, 2016 #

      Hello Kara,

      Both states are very strict on registration requirements. You would essentially want to insure your car for FL. You may need to re-register this as well. In general, your car must be registered and insured for the state where you drive it for the majority of the year. This would reduce the possibility of issues with the MI DMV.

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