Using Out-of-State Car Insurance: Possible or Not Possible?

Do you always need car insurance from the same state you live in? Our customer service reps break down this common question from our Facebook users.

out-of-state car insurance

Few things are quite as exciting as buying a car. Sadly, a fresh set of wheels usually comes with a fresh set of extra expenses — license plates, titles, Carstaches® (and grooming kit), and of course car insurance.

Thing is, after shelling out big bucks to get the car itself, many drivers, especially younger ones, probably aren’t too excited about paying for insurance. In fact, a frequent question we receive from our loyal Facebook community involves one particular method of cutting costs: having parents or relatives who live in another state insure it under their policy.

Is insuring a car with out-of-state insurance even possible? We checked in with our customer service reps to get to the bottom of this issue.

The experts weigh in on out-of-state car insurance

When you own a car in one state, you typically cannot have Mom, Dad, Uncle Bert, or Grandma Betty insure it under their policy if they live in another. The main reason is because each state decides its own car insurance requirements individually.

So, for instance, while your state might ask drivers to have $25,000 in property damage liability insurance, your parents’ state might only require $10,000. If you got pulled over and didn’t have the right amount of insurance, you could wind up with a hefty fine. In most cases, your local DMV won’t even hand over license plates, a registration, or any other must-have documents unless you have car insurance from the state you’re living in.

In the rare case that your relatives’ policy does allow them to insure vehicles in multiple states and your DMV has no objections, make sure you’re listed as a covered driver and you have enough protection to satisfy state law … and your own peace of mind.

Temporary state changes

One possible exception to the “no out-of-state insurance” guideline is if you’re temporarily living in a different state (not as a permanent resident) and you brought the car with you.

For instance, if you take the family van across state lines for college, you parents can often still insure it. Or, if you take your car to a new state for a 3-month job assignment you might be fine keeping your home state’s coverage. In any case, you should always run the idea of using an out-of-state policy past your insurer to make sure it’s allowed and that you have enough protection for where you’re headed.

Still curious about out-of-state car insurance?

Have more questions about your car insurance possibilities? Ask away on our Facebook page. You can also check out our myth-busting center where we break down all kinds of coverage conundrums so you can drive (and enter trivia nights) with confidence.

Related post

Our expert answers your questions about out-of-state car insurance 

54 Responses to “Using Out-of-State Car Insurance: Possible or Not Possible?”

  1. Sam
    May 3, 2013 #

    | So, for instance, while your state might ask drivers to have $25,000 in property damage liability insurance, your parents’ state might only require $10,000. If you got pulled over and didn’t have the right amount of insurance, you could wind up with a hefty fine.|

    That is incorrect. The out-of-state coverage provision in a personal auto policy modifies the policy to meet other states' financial responsibility requirements and other state laws concerning out-of-state drivers when the covered auto is being driven in that state. Basically, if you drive your vehicle to another state, you have at least the minimum liability requirements for that state by default.

    • Kelly
      May 3, 2013 #

      If i read the article correctly, i think the writer is referring to someone who lives in a different state than where they have their car insurance. He talks about temporary state changes at the bottom, which is where what you're saying would probably apply.

    • Keith
      February 21, 2014 #

      Hi I'm currently in collage in PA, my truck is registered in Va can I get on my brothers PA insurance as long as it meets the coverage in VA.

      • Ellen Hall
        February 25, 2014 #

        Hi Keith,
        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. So, if you’re no longer living in VA, you’d need to register your car in PA and get a PA policy. However, it’s worth checking with your insurer to see if they have special options for students attending school out of state. With Esurance, if a student starts out listed on a household policy and will be temporarily attending school at another address, we would allow them to remain on the original policy as long as their vehicle is still registered in that state (VA, in your case).

        Hope that helps!

  2. kimberly ruehl
    October 15, 2013 #

    My son is in the army and his home of recorded is CA his DL and policy is CA. he just got a new car in GA and since he had to go to the DMV in GA. he is now getting a fine saying he does not have Insurance even though he does and the new car is on his policy and was told he will have to have 2 different polices one for CA and one for GA is that true! if so why would his cost go up.

    • Ellen Hall
      October 17, 2013 #

      Hi Kimberly,
      Typically military personnel are allowed to have a declared state of residence. For your son, it sounds like that’s California, and he would need to register his vehicle in California. If he registered his vehicle in Georgia, then he would need a Georgia policy to satisfy their requirements for insurance.

      He can also check with personnel on his base who might be able to offer him assistance.

      Hope this helps!

    • Cheryl James
      September 10, 2014 #

      Kimberly,
      Unless things have changed, military personnel always keep their home state as their home of record because they do move around so much including being sent overseas, where they often can take their vehicle with them. I would check into this again. BTW, thank your son for his service, from one vet (retired) to another.

  3. Brenda
    November 4, 2013 #

    I have a concern about autmobile insurance….We have a situation where a family member lost their job, car and home….They have a job now,(with a big loss of income)…Since they had no car we bought one so they could get to work….They cannot buy one themself because of their credit…we have full coverage on the car, but they live in another state and they are listed as a driver on this vehicle…..Is this against the law or should we do something else….This is their only source of income and they have to work…We tried to get the car financed in their name but they would not let us because of her credit.. Would appreciate some advice as to what we can do!!!We do not want them to get in trouble or us either…..Thanks

    • Ellen Hall
      November 6, 2013 #

      Hi Brenda,
      Insurance companies vary, but Esurance’s guidelines don’t allow people to insure individuals or vehicles in other states. However, if the out-of-state driver buys a policy in their state of residence and you chose to pay their premiums, that is okay. Again, we can only speak for Esurance – other insurance companies may differ.

      Hope this helps.

  4. Amanda Mangett
    November 25, 2013 #

    We moved from Michigan to Texas. My son left his truck in Texas to drive while visiting, he still lives in Michigan. My husband drives it occasionally but it is registered to my son in Michigan. Can we get a Texas auto insurance policy or does it have to be insured through Michigan even though it won't be driven there very much (if ever)?

    • Ellen Hall
      November 25, 2013 #

      Hi Amanda,
      I can only speak for Esurance, but we would require the policy to be issued in the state where the car is usually parked and driven. The vehicle would also need to be registered to a Texas address in order to satisfy Texas requirements and stay in the good graces of the Michigan DMV.

      Hope this helps!

  5. Donkey kong
    December 18, 2013 #

    I have a home in another state. I would like to put insurance on it, and mainly use it when I come back from school (pleasure car) while I'm in ny I usually take the transit system but when I come back to PA I want to be able to drive my car and use it in NYC is that possible?

    Basically what I'm asking is this, I rent in NYC but have a house in PA poconos, I want to register it in poconos but be able to use it anywhere!

    • Ellen Hall
      December 31, 2013 #

      Thanks for your question.

      Most insurers require that your insurance policy be issued in the state where your car is usually driven and parked. If you do the majority of your driving in Pennsylvania, you should have your car insured at the Poconos address. Under most policies you will still be covered when you drive in New York and other U.S. states. (Though it’s always a good idea to check with your insurance company first.)

      You should also keep in mind that in many states (including New York) the insurance policy state must also match the state where the vehicle is registered. If the vehicle is registered in New York but insured on a Pennsylvania policy, that would typically not meet NY regulations and the NY DMV can assess penalties including large (daily) fines and/or suspension of drivers license or registration.

      Hope this helps!

      • RJT
        March 6, 2014 #

        PA requires a PA drivers license (from at least 1 person) to register an automobile thus making it impossible to adhere to such standards for Donkey kong. Nope you'd have to put that NY registered card with NY insurance in the garage in the PA Poconos. Rules don't go with reality in the case of PA's 1970's requirements.

  6. Monique Jordon
    January 14, 2014 #

    I presently carry car insurance through California, but have been out of state for more than 6 months, is it still possible to carry the California insurance until I return to the state ? Thank you in advance.

    • Ellen Hall
      January 14, 2014 #

      Hi Monique,
      The answer depends on why you’re living outside of California, and where your vehicle is.

      The California DMV requires any vehicle registered in CA to maintain a CA insurance policy unless the vehicle is registered as non-operable. If you’re living out of state but your vehicle remains at the CA policy address, you can keep your CA policy as-is (but you’d need to keep it up to date).

      But if you’ve been living in another state for more than 6 months, have your car with you, and plan to stay for the near future, your current state of residence will probably require you to switch your registration and insurance to match your current address. (If you’re out of state because you’re in the military or away at school, exceptions may apply.)

      We can only speak for Esurance – other insurance companies may vary, so be sure to check your policy contract and ask your insurance agent to see what's required in your situation.

      Hope this helps!

  7. Kd
    January 16, 2014 #

    We've just moved to CA from OH, renting a home in CA. Our home in OH is still on the market, I have my car insurance and registration in OH. Can I leave in OH till house sells? Cheaper rates. Yikes :) TY

    • Ellen Hall
      January 16, 2014 #

      Hi Kd,
      As long as your car remains at the Ohio policy address, you can probably keep your current Ohio insurance. (We can only speak for Esurance, though. You should check your policy contract and ask your insurance agent if this applies to you.)

  8. Eva
    January 31, 2014 #

    I live in NY and need to purchase a car as soon as possible but plan on moving to MA within the next two months. Should I be getting a policy from MA or NY and then change it when I move? Are there fees for changing a policy so quickly?

    • Ellen Hall
      January 31, 2014 #

      Hi Eva,
      New York typically requires residents to insure their vehicles right away with a New York policy, or face possible fines. So we’d advise you to get a New York policy as soon as you buy your car, and update to a Massachusetts policy when you move.

      As far as fees go, Esurance doesn’t charge any cancellation fees or penalties for this situation. If you were a NY policyholder preparing to move MA, we’d advise you to call customer service so a licensed agent could set up an MA quote and repurchase. We’d typically be able to set the NY policy to cancel on the same date the MA policy would start, and to transfer over any unused premium from the old policy to the new one. The cost of policies in different states may vary, so we’d advise you to get a quote in advance so you could factor any premium increase or decrease in your budget for the move.

      The process (and fees) may vary depending on the insurance company, especially if you change companies when you change states. If you decide to switch companies, your best bet would be to explain the situation to the agent up front before completing the purchase of your New York policy, to make sure you don’t have any surprises later.

      Hope this helps!

  9. ST
    February 17, 2014 #

    I have a question if you could answer. I live in Colorado and while I was in California, I helped my brother purchase a vehicle. We are listed as co-owners. Naturally, the vehicle is listed on my insurance and my brother was added to my policy. This vehicle is registered in California with Colorado insurance. The DMV gave no problems with this. The insurance will not let us change the garaged address for this vehicle.

    Is this an issue since I am an owner of the car but that car is not physically in Colorado?

    • Ellen Hall
      February 18, 2014 #

      Hi ST,
      It's not about ownership as much as it is location. Most insurers require that your insurance policy be issued in the state where your car is usually driven and parked (in your case, California). The CA DMV requires any vehicle registered in CA to maintain a CA insurance policy, and insurance companies that do business in CA are required to electronically file notification of coverage for insured vehicles with the state. Your Colorado policy may meet or exceed CA coverage requirements for liability insurance, but it won’t be set up to send notifications of coverage to the CA DMV. If the state of CA doesn’t receive regular notifications of coverage, you could eventually face fines or suspension from the CA DMV.

      Some insurance companies will allow vehicles to be insured in separate states under a single policy number via a specific state rider or endorsement. But since you’ve been unable to change the garaging address for this car with your existing policy, it’s more likely that you’ll need to set up a separate CA policy that includes this car and both drivers. You could still maintain the Colorado policy for yourself and any vehicles you drive in CO.

      Hope this answers your question!

  10. Sam
    March 3, 2014 #

    Question: I plan to buy a car from my grandmother (who lives in Florida) and drive it back to North Carolina. Is it possible to drive it up here on her policy, have her cancel her policy, purchase my own policy here in NC, and then register it here? I'm trying to figure out what the insurance status of the vehicle should be while it's in interstate transit.

    • Ellen Hall
      March 4, 2014 #

      Hi Sam,
      Yes, that would work. A standard U.S. auto insurance policy will provide coverage for the vehicle wherever it’s being driven or transported within the United States. Once you’re ready to register it in North Carolina, you can see about getting NC insurance for it at the same time. Technically, you could also do it the other way around and set up NC insurance for the vehicle first. The method you choose would probably be limited mostly by the requirements of the NC DMV; for example, if they require the vehicle to be present to process registration. The DMV can give you more info on NC registration guidelines.

  11. Julius R
    March 4, 2014 #

    Hello,
    I am in the military and I am currently stationed in Arizona. My home of record is in Pennsylvania. Can I insure my policy with my Pennsylvania address, or must I use my Arizona address. If I can get my motorcycle registered in Pennsylvania, can I just buy coverage from Pennsylvania and have piece of mind knowing I am covered? Please help!

    • Ellen Hall
      March 7, 2014 #

      Hi Julius,
      Many insurance companies make exceptions for military personnel. With Esurance, active-duty military can have a policy set up for whatever state they want, regardless if their vehicle is registered there or where they are currently stationed. The only thing you’d want to keep in mind is that the state where the vehicle is registered may want the insurance to be specific for that state.

      Hope this helps!

  12. Lisa
    March 8, 2014 #

    My son is working in CA temporarily (a year or less). The car is still registered in his home state of TX, but did get CA insurance. Any problem with this that he should be aware of?

    • Ellen Hall
      March 11, 2014 #

      Hi Lisa,
      According to the CA DMV, nonresidents must register their car within 20 days of accepting gainful employment in CA and/or renting a home in CA. So your son will need to register his car in CA. The DMV requires any vehicle registered in CA to maintain a CA insurance policy, so he’s already in good shape there.

      He should also keep in mind that the CA insurance policy won’t provide any documentation of coverage to the state of Texas. In TX an inspection may be required to register a vehicle and the owner would need to have a TX insurance policy in order to complete the inspection. It could cause problems if your son tries to renew the TX registration and doesn’t have a TX policy.

      Hope this is helpful!

  13. Brian
    March 11, 2014 #

    Hi, I am the primary owner of a car with my daugther. My daughter has excepted a job in a another state. She is currently on my insurance. Will we need to insure, title and resigistor the car in the state she is moving to if I am the primary owner of the car? Thank you

    • Ellen Hall
      March 12, 2014 #

      Hi Brian,
      Yes, if your daughter is moving to a new state for work and taking the car with her, she will need to update the vehicle registration and insurance for that state. If the vehicle is currently registered 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 the state.
      2) The new state may allow the vehicle registration to be transferred via gift or sale so your daughter is the sole registered owner.
      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.
      4) The new state may allow the vehicle to be registered to you and your daughter, where she is the new primary registered owner.

      If there’s no compelling reason for you to stay on the registration, #2 is generally the simplest option. 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 for 1, 3, or 4. The insurance policy would need to include the name of the person(s) with “insurable interest” in the car (i.e. the owner) as well as the person(s) actually driving the car. So depending how the registration is set up, the insurance may be set up with either your daughter alone, her as primary insured with you as a listed driver, or you as primary insured with her as a listed driver.

      Hope this is helpful!

  14. Don
    April 12, 2014 #

    My son is currently serving in the Marines and is now stationed in North Carolina. However his declared state of residence is here in Michigan. He is actually buying a new vehicle here in Michigan and will be taking it with him back to North Carolina. His enlistment is for three years and we assume he will remain in North Carolina. If the truck is purchased in Michigan and titled and insured in Michigan is that valid as far as insurance. Will he have issues with coverage since the vehicle will be in North Carolina for the next three years? The insurance asks where will the vehicle be most of time and the answer on the application is Michigan but in reality it will be North Carolina. We are confused on what we need to do.

    • Ellen Hall
      April 15, 2014 #

      Hi Don,
      Many insurers make exceptions for military personnel. Esurance, for example, allows military policyholders to declare any state of residence they choose. So in your son’s case, we would allow him to keep Michigan as his state of residence, even though the car will be physically in North Carolina. If he isn’t an Esurance customer, he should check with his insurance company to see what their requirements are.

      Hope this is helpful!

  15. Phil
    April 23, 2014 #

    Hello,

    I am about to move to PA and the car I drive is currently registered in OH and under my parents name. Is it at all possible to have PA insurance yet have the title and registration still in my parents name? i.e. can I still have OH plates yet have the car insured in PA?

    • Ellen Hall
      April 30, 2014 #

      Hi Phil,
      PennDOT would not immediately reject a vehicle having Pennsylvania insurance but out-of-state plates. If your insurance company tried to send notifications of the insurance to the state, they’d just get a message back that the information wasn’t found among vehicle registrations. This is actually pretty common if someone is setting up PA insurance in advance before they move and update their registration. However, PA does require residents to register their vehicle within 20 days after moving to the state. If a driver was pulled over after the 20 days and found to still have out-of-state plates, they could end up facing fines or other penalties.

      You might also run into problems with the state of Ohio. If the vehicle has OH plates, it’s expected to have OH insurance.

      The best plan would be to update both the vehicle registration and insurance once you move. Depending on your situation, you may be able to still keep your parents’ name on the registration or you may need to transfer it to your name.

      Hope this helps!

  16. Juan
    May 18, 2014 #

    I'm a father in Alabama. Both my 17 & 18 live in ny but can't afford a car and are getting their NY permit. Can they borrow my car and be under my Alabama policy?

    • Ellen Hall
      May 21, 2014 #

      Hi Juan,
      It depends – some insurance companies will insure a vehicle that’s garaged out of state, but some will not. You’ll need to contact your insurer and see if your Alabama policy will cover an out-of-state vehicle. The other issue is that New York typically requires licensed drivers in that state to have coverage meeting NY-state requirements. You’ll want to check with the DMV to make sure your policy includes all the uninsured motorist and no-fault coverages that New York requires. If not, you may need to get a New York policy regardless of how flexible your AL policy is about out-of-state cars.

      I hope this is helpful!

  17. Jessica
    June 13, 2014 #

    My mom is financing a car, that I drive. I live in SC, she lives in PA. How can we go about registering the car in SC

    • Jessica Guerin
      June 17, 2014 #

      Hi Jessica,
      We suggest that you get in contact with the South Carolina DMV. Though it’s likely that they’ll allow a non-resident owner to register a vehicle in the state, you’ll probably need to provide documentation confirming that the vehicle is primarily driven in SC. They may also require you to list both your mom and yourself on the registration, which means you should both also be listed on the insurance policy. They DMV can provide you with the most accurate information, however. I hope that helps!

  18. Ves Kinston
    June 25, 2014 #

    HI,
    I have a car in NC that I would like to let my son use, temporarily until he gets his own car. My son lives and works in Michigan. My son is 24 years old. Is my NC car insurance enough. Should I add him as a driver?

    • Jennifer Wood
      June 25, 2014 #

      Hi Ves!

      That's a tricky one. It largely depends on how temporary it would be and whether or not your policy has a provision for permissive use. Permissive use may allow your son to borrow your car without adding him to the policy, however restrictions and limitations apply. That being said your North Carolina policy may not allow the car to be in Michigan for an extended amount of time without purchasing insurance in Michigan. To be sure both your son and your car are properly covered, I'd recommend contacting your insurance company directly. It may also be helpful to contact the DMV in order to find out if the vehicle needs to be registered in Michigan while it's in use there.

      Hope that helps!

  19. H B
    June 30, 2014 #

    Hi,
    I recently bought a car and it is registered in PA. I currently live in Philadelphia.
    My wife got a job in NY. So she decided to live in NJ and commute to NY for work. If my wife is using this car, do I need to register it in NJ? We will be using this car in 2 states (NJ and PA).
    I have the loan on this car, and it is on my name.
    Can I still use PA insurance, if my wife use this car in NJ?

    • Jessica Guerin
      July 1, 2014 #

      Hi there. The general answer is that the vehicle should be registered and insured in the state where it's garaged the majority of the time. If your wife mostly lives in New Jersey, she should look at getting New Jersey registration and insurance. However, we suggest checking with your insurance company as different companies handle out-of-state coverage differently. They may allow you to add a New Jersey policy to your existing coverage as an endorsement, but they also may require you to purchase a separate policy. I hope that helps!

  20. Pete
    July 16, 2014 #

    Do I need to have insurance in the state that the vehicle is 'garaged' in or 'registered' in? On top of that, I'm not a resident of either of those states, so does that come in to play as well? (Active Duty Military)

    • Jessica Guerin
      July 21, 2014 #

      Hi Pete. Different insurance companies may handle military relocation differently. If you're an Esurance customer, give us a call at 1-800-ESURANCE and we can help you transfer your policy to your new state if necessary (you can read a little more about how we handle military relocation here: https://www.esurance.com/customer-service/military-and-car-insurance). If you have insurance through another company, we suggest giving them a call to see what they'd like you to do.

      Thank you for your service.

  21. Diane Owens
    August 28, 2014 #

    My husband and I purchased a car in New Jersey and have it registered & insured along with our other vehicles in South Dakota, as we are residents there. We are letting our daughter use it in her home state of NJ. Are there any legal complications with this arrangement?

    • Jennifer Wood
      August 28, 2014 #

      Hi Diane.
      Thanks for reading! Since the vehicle is registered to you, there are a few ways that this could play out. I'd recommend contacting your insurance provider directly (as well as the New Jersey DMV) in order to make sure you've got everything in order.

      To get you started, we've covered the ins and outs of out-of-state insurance here: http://blog.esurance.com/out-of-state-car-insurance-everything-you-need-to-know/

  22. K-lee
    August 31, 2014 #

    Hi,
    I am a college student and needed a car for school. I recently co-purchased a used car in Louisiana with my mother who lives in New Jersey. I live off campus, and my car is registered and insured in Louisiana using my off campus address, but do I have to change my driver's license too? I don't plan to keep the car or live in New Orleans after graduating in May. What do?

    • Jennifer Wood
      September 2, 2014 #

      Hi K-lee!

      Because regulations vary state-by-state, I'd recommending contact the Louisiana DMV directly and explaining the situation. They should be able to explain the state's requirements and let you know whether or not a new license is necessary.

      For more information, check out our post on car insurance and college-bound students: http://blog.esurance.com/car-insurance-and-college/

  23. Ken mancuso
    September 1, 2014 #

    I own two cars and tow home a car and home in Rhode Island and a car and home in Florida. Can I get one policy for both RI and FL?

    • Jennifer Wood
      September 2, 2014 #

      Hi Ken,
      It will likely depend on which insurance provider you choose to go through. If you'd like, give us a call at 1-800-378-7262 and one of our expert customer service representatives can help you get the answers you're looking for.

      Thanks!

  24. Julian
    September 2, 2014 #

    I'm living in California, but will be moving to Texas for work. I'm currently on my father's policy. I plan to purchase my own vehicle once I'm in Texas since the sales tax is lower but intend to stay on my father's policy if possible. Would he need a separate policy for me in that case?

  25. Todd
    September 7, 2014 #

    My neighbors have a vehicle from Virginia. Their registration sticker expired May 1st and they have been here a year on 9/1/14. Does this void their insurance?

  26. Fred Stephens
    September 10, 2014 #

    My 24 year old son has been living in California for the past 2 years (he does not own a vehicle). I live outside the country and just found out his circumstances… He has been on his mother's auto insurance policy in Illinois so that he could drive someone else's car that he might borrow at times to get around. He still has an Illinois driver's license linked to his mother's house (where he has never lived), and I told him that if he should get into an accident, the insurance company would probably say that he was not covered because of the above variables. Could the insurance company also say that the whole situation and setup is somewhat fraudulent?

  27. crystal green
    September 18, 2014 #

    So I live in SC bought a car there due to a divorce I came to visit friends in Virginia! Its been abt 6 mths and I'm still in Virginia, I traded in the car I brought with me from SC for a different car here in VA I have 30 days on my paper tag. I have the SC tag with me. Can I put that tag on new car and keep same insurance or do I need to register it in Virginia? My license say SC and I plan on going back to SC but no time soon, what should I do?

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