Where Will My U.S. Car Insurance Protect Me?

By Desiree Baughman
Desiree maintains insurance licensure in 46 states, and by combining years of experience as a writer and insurance professional, she delivers information consumers can easily relate to and understand. A graduate of Sweet Briar College with a diverse writing portfolio, she regularly serves as an expert source and commentator for respected outlets like CBS Money, Bankrate, and Ragan.com.

Where Will My U.S. Car Insurance Protect Me?In the excitement of planning a trip, something like insurance is usually the last thing on your mind. Who could blame you for that when your head is filled with images of crystal blue water and sandy beaches?

There are a select few, though, who may actually wonder if their car insurance will protect them on their trip. If you happen to be one of them (good for you!), here’s what you need to know.

Other U.S. States

As long as you’re properly insured according to the mandates and requirements of your state, you’ll have the same protection in any state. However, remember that every state has different car insurance guidelines, and it would be in your best interest to go to the state department of insurance websites of any states you’re traveling to or will be passing through to find out about any special quirks or rules.

For example, if you go to a no-fault state, you’ll definitely need uninsured and underinsured motorist protection. These states allow some people to only carry medical coverage for themselves and just a little bit of property damage coverage. If someone with a personal injury protection (PIP) policy injures you, you’ll only have your own car’s medical coverage and uninsured/underinsured protection for your injuries.

If you are from a no-fault state and only have PIP coverage, don’t leave your state until you’ve added standard bodily injury to your car insurance policy. Otherwise, you’ll be liable financially–meaning out of pocket–for any and all injuries in an accident you cause.

Mexico

Mexico does not recognize U.S. insurance policies. You’ll need to purchase special Mexican car insurance before crossing the border. You can get this from some U.S. insurers, or you can get it through a Mexican insurance company. Often they’ll have offices right on the border for people getting ready to cross over.

Although you can be allowed into the country without Mexican car insurance, you could be putting yourself in a very precarious situation. In Mexico, even if you’re not at fault for an accident, all drivers involved in a car accident are put in jail until fault is determined. If you’re determined the at-fault party, you’ll need to prove you have money to pay for the other person’s damage and injuries in a way other than with your U.S. auto insurance.

Canada

U.S. insurance is recognized in Canada, but you have to get a special certificate from your insurer in order to cross the border with your vehicle. In addition, they may require you to increase your bodily injury liability protection because Canada requires especially high protection from their motorists.

Taking a vacation can be expensive enough without having an accident and suddenly finding you don’t have enough coverage (or any at all). If that happens and you are forced to pay for damages out of pocket, you can pretty much clear your calendar of any vacations for the next several years.