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

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

  1. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Anthony
    July 21, 2015 #

    I was hit by a permanent Illinois resident with out of state insurance. No one knows how she got this coverage, but the fact of the matter is that she does have this coverage. She has the minimum liability insurance on her out of state policy (wisconsin) and the accident happened in Illinois. Is her insurance required to pay out according to the Illinois state law?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      July 24, 2015 #

      Hi Anthony,

      This is usually decided on a case-by-case basis. It would depend on many factors. If the insurance claim is denied, you may be able to seek recovery via small claims court. We suggest speaking to the adjusters of both companies.

      Thanks for reading.

  2. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Carl D'Agostino
    July 22, 2015 #

    My license, registration and insurance are at florida address. I am taking care of my 91 year old father here north carolina 6 months already. I need medical insurance, medicare here in north carolina to go to doctor so use nc address for that. I don't know how long I will live here dependent on fathers health or demise. Do I need a NC driver license? If i go back to florida i will have to change soc sec, medicare, health ins supplement and get a new first time fla license? If I fail nc driver license test do they keep my license? I am 66 and this situation is stressing me out. My insurance rates in fl are more than twice what they are in florida so i am not trying to cheat on lower car insurance and my name on deed of house to avoid probate but no homestead deduction claimed.

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      July 24, 2015 #

      Hi Carl,

      As far as the auto insurance goes, generally, your vehicle needs to be insured and registered to the state where it’s primarily driven. This will avoid possible issues if a claim occurs. Regarding the medical insurance, we suggest speaking to your health insurance provider to go over your options.

      Thanks for reading.

  3. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    randy
    July 23, 2015 #

    I own a car and sit on a garage I have no insurance for it since is in the garage but I got involve in to a car accident with my sister car we when to the doctor and everything but now the insurance dont want to pay my hospital bill because my car the one that I have in the garage is not insure. Since there is a law in new jersey that you most have your vehicle insurance at all time even if it sits on a garage. What you guys think that I should do ??

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      July 24, 2015 #

      Hi Randy,

      In this type of situation, we would suggest seeking legal advice.

      Thanks for reading.

  4. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Amber Warren
    July 28, 2015 #

    My fiance just moved to Michigan for work and purchased a new car. I live in Indiana until the end of this month but have both my car and his insured in Indiana. Do we need 2 policies (1 in Indiana and 1 in Michigan) or is this not an issue.

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Amber Warren
      July 28, 2015 #

      End of this year not of this month.

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      August 12, 2015 #

      Hello Amber,

      As far as the insurance goes, we require the vehicle to be insured for the state the vehicle is driven the majority of the year. A lot of times, the issue comes down to where the vehicle is registered. We suggest making sure that the state where it’s driven, insured, and registered are all the same.

      Thanks for reading.

  5. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Garkie Zhu
    August 3, 2015 #

    I'm a resident in Colorado but have recently been accepted into a graduate program all the way in Boston, MA. My SO and I are bringing his car with us to MA. Under MA RMV Nonresident Student Drivers we are able to keep the car registered under CO while having the car in MA. However, I'm curious as to how does this affect our car insurance? Will we be covered for any accidents just as we would be in our home state? What steps do we need to take in order to get our car insured without having to change our registrations to MA?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Garkie Zhu
      August 3, 2015 #

      Also, if me not being a co-owner is a problem could he add me?

      • Avatar for Ellen Hall
        Rachael Heller
        August 12, 2015 #

        Hi Garkie,

        Great question! We require anyone who drives the vehicle on a regular basis to be added to the policy.

        Thanks for reading.

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      August 19, 2015 #

      Hello Garkie,

      In general, we require the vehicle to be insured for the state where it will spend 10/12 months of the year. Please feel free to contact our licensed agent department at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262) for more specifics.

      Thanks for reading.

  6. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Richard Gray
    August 5, 2015 #

    I reside in KY and will purchase a vehicle for my daughter (age 16) that resides with her mother and attends school in the state of IL. My insurance will not cover this and looking for other options.

    Thanks

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      August 12, 2015 #

      Hello,

      Great question, Richard. Your daughter would need to purchase a policy for the state of IL and also register her vehicle there. You may need to be added as an additional driver to that policy if the vehicle is under your name. We suggest speaking to the IL DMV if you have questions on the registration portion.

      Thanks for reading.

  7. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Shaun
    August 6, 2015 #

    My girlfriend has insurance in Florida but is moving to Michigan can she keep the insurance in florida?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      August 12, 2015 #

      Hello Shaun,

      We require the vehicle to be insured for the state where it’s driven and registered for the majority of the year. Every state has different laws of insurance. If she has a FL policy but lives in MI, that may cause issues if she has a claim and could possibly have it denied.

      Thanks for reading.

  8. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Amanda
    August 7, 2015 #

    Hi, I recently moved from California and drove my car to Minnesota, where my parents live. I am currently working on a cruise ship, so I don't have a job in Minnesota and am not paying rent in Minnesota. I will only be using it as a place to live during the 2 months I get off as vacation from the ship. So I still have a California driver's license and car registration. In order to get a new insurance policy in Minnesota, will I need to first get a MN license and registration? Would there be any issues with still having California plates and license? If possible, I would prefer to keep them as California, because after I am done working on the ship I plan on moving back to California. I am just living here temporarily and need to make sure my car is insured. Thanks in advance for any advice you can provide!!

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      August 12, 2015 #

      Hello,

      Great question, Amanda. In most situations, the car must be registered and insured for the state where it’s parked. If there are differences in that, CA or MN may suspend your drivers license. We would suggest calling and speaking to your agent to get specific details on the insurance requirements.

      Thanks for reading.

  9. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Carly
    August 11, 2015 #

    I am a 25 year old graduate student that just moved to Florida from Louisiana to attend school. I want to pay Florida insurance rates, but I don't want to give up my Louisiana residency because I believe it will help me in my job search post-school. If I change my insurance to a Florida policy, will I run into trouble making a claim if my car isn't registered in Florida?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      August 12, 2015 #

      Hello Carly,

      We suggest that your vehicle be insured and registered for the state where you drive your vehicle 10 months out of the year. As far as your questions regarding a claim being covered or not, that decision is made by the adjuster at the time of the loss. All claims are handled on a case by case situation.

      Thanks for reading.

  10. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Isai
    August 16, 2015 #

    My parents live in California and I live in Oregon. Can I be on their insurance? I would be cheaper since I just bought a car and I would love out if it was.

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      August 19, 2015 #

      Hello Isai,

      Great question. Your car would need to be covered for the state where it’s driven. The laws of each state require different coverage limits. There may be exceptions if you’re active duty military or a student away at school. Please contact your licensed agent for more details.

      Thanks for reading.

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