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

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

  1. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    October 29, 2015 #

    I am a resident of Florida. I have leased a car, and given it to my sister.

    She is going to college in Georgia. And the car is going to be parked at her address in Georgia.

    As it is a lease, the car is registered under my name, and has a Florida license.

    I know that I have to be the primary insured, and register her as a driver.

    However, could you please let me know in what state and how should I insure the car? It is registered in Florida, but will be garaged in Georgia.

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      November 4, 2015 #

      Hello Ellie,

      We suggest that the vehicle’s coverage and registration match the state where the vehicle is parked. The reason is that insurance laws vary so it needs to be protected under GA’s requirements. However, FL typically requires that any car registered in FL, have FL coverage. Due to this, it may be easier to have it registered, and insured for GA. We hope this helps.

      Thanks for reading.

  2. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    November 6, 2015 #

    I recently moved from MA to CA to work for about 2 years. Should I get insurance/coverage from CA even if I don't necessarily get a CA license? Also, do I need to register my car to CA state?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      November 23, 2015 #

      Hello Katerina,

      Unless the move is related to military posting or for school, you are going to want to switch everything over to CA (DL, registration, and insurance) since it is going to be at least 2 years.

      Thanks for reading.

  3. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    November 16, 2015 #

    If I currently reside in New Jersey and plan on purchasing a vehicle from New Jersey where should the car be registered and insured if in a few months I will be going to Florida for college?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      November 23, 2015 #


      As a student you could maintain your NJ registration, DL, and insurance, unless you intend to change you permanent residence to FL.

      Thanks for reading.

  4. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Mary Smith
    November 16, 2015 #

    Hi. We have a car registered, insured in PA and have PA driver's licenses. We are currently in Seattle while I look for work. We own our home in PA and are renting here – not sure how long, have kept it open based on if I find work. What should we be doing regarding insurance? Sorry to admit we never thought this through. Mary

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      November 23, 2015 #

      Hello Mary,

      In the short term, you would be fine. If it gets to be more than 6 months before you either go back to PA or decide to permanently relocate to WA, it could be an issue. If you feel it’s going to end up being more than 6 months, you will most likely want to go ahead and register their vehicle(s) in WA and get coverage written for WA.

      Thanks for reading.

  5. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    November 21, 2015 #

    I currently live in Pennsylvania and both my cars are registered and financed under my moms name. My wife and I are moving to Florida soon, I know I have to have Florida insurance but can the vehicles stay registered in Pennsylvania since they are under my moms name?

    If so when I come back to Pennsylvania every year for inspection will they take my out of state insurance card on the vehicle?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      November 23, 2015 #

      Hello Joe,

      The best course of action would be to re-register they vehicles in your name in FL if the loan company is ok with that. That will leave the state of PA out of the equation. If the loan company needs to see your mother’s name on the insurance policy but not the registration, this could be done on the FL policy.

      Thanks for reading.

  6. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Bernard Elbaum
    November 23, 2015 #

    We live in CA but we wish to garage a car in MA where we often visit to help care for my wife's elderly mother. Through a MA insurance agency, I have a quote from one insurer, but the rate is higher than what we pay to insure two cars in CA. I'd like to try to shop around for a better rate. What insurance cos will cover an auto in MA for an owner with an out of state license?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      November 23, 2015 #

      Hello Bernard,

      If the vehicle is going to be registered in MA, an insurance policy in MA would be required as well. We would be able to write this type of policy, however there would most likely have to be an additional review due to the DL being from out of state. However, MA premiums do tend to be higher in general that most CA policies.

      Thanks for reading.

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