How to Get US Auto Insurance with a Canadian License

Is it even possible to get U.S. car insurance in Canada? Usually, you can get U.S. auto insurance with a Canadian license via temporary coverage, depending on the length of the visit.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: Jun 13, 2022

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Things to remember...

  • Canadian drivers can use their own license to get U.S. auto insurance temporarily
  • You’ll typically need to get a driver’s license issued by a U.S. state within 30 days if you’re moving to the country permanently 
  • Once you receive that license, you can convert your insurance for the longer term

If you’re planning to visit the United States from Canada with your own car, you’ll be thinking about auto insurance. Will you be able to get insurance in this situation, and how complicated might it be? Is there a difference between a short-term and longer-term stay? Here is everything you need to know about auto insurance before you leave for the U.S.

Can drivers get U.S. Car insurance in Canada?

Your Canadian auto insurance will usually cover you when driving your vehicle in the U.S., however, you can still find specialty insurance for your vehicle if you prefer to purchase a local policy.  

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How to Get U.S. Insurance with a Canadian License

Some companies will sell you a temporary auto insurance policy for the length of your visit, but if you’re planning to move to the U.S., the good news is that the process is not too difficult, and You will need to shop around to find out where you can get a policy and compare prices. Such a policy may be time-limited, and the company will typically require you to apply for a U.S. license right away if you intend to stay in the country rather than simply visit for up to 6 months.

If you plan on staying, you will need to take further steps and plan to get that U.S. driver’s license. You will be able to drive in the U.S. on your Canadian license for a short time while you make arrangements.

All cars need the required amount of auto insurance coverage, but the rules can vary by state in the U.S. Like Canada’s separate provincial vehicle and licensing offices, each U.S. state also has its own driver and vehicle agency (DMV), which sets the rules relating to licensing, registration, and auto insurance.

Getting U.S. Auto Insurance in Canada

Before you get ready to move to the USA, you’ll need to do some preparation. You can arrange to get your U.S. auto insurance in Canada by researching online and shopping for car insurance.

To get an idea of how much insurers vary in price, take a look at the table below.

Auto Insurance Rates by Age and Gender
Auto Insurance Rates by Age and Gender Single 17-year-old Female Average Annual Auto Insurance RatesSingle 17-year-old Male Average Annual Auto Insurance RatesSingle 25-year-old Female Average Annual Auto Insurance RatesSingle 25-year-old Male Average Annual Auto Insurance RatesMarried 35-year-old Female Average Annual Auto Insurance RatesMarried 35-year-old Male Average Annual Auto Insurance RatesMarried 60-year-old Female Average Annual Auto Insurance RatesMarried 60-year-old Male Average Annual Auto Insurance RatesAverage Annual Auto Insurance Rates
Allstate$9,282.19$10,642.53$3,424.87$3,570.93$3,156.09$3,123.01$2,913.37$2,990.64$4,887.95
American Family$5,996.50$8,130.50$2,288.65$2,694.72$2,202.70$2,224.31$1,992.92$2,014.38$3,443.09
Farmers$8,521.97$9,144.04$2,946.80$3,041.44$2,556.98$2,557.75$2,336.80$2,448.39$4,194.27
GEICO$5,653.55$6,278.96$2,378.89$2,262.87$2,302.89$2,312.38$2,240.60$2,283.45$3,214.20
Liberty Mutual$11,621.01$13,718.69$3,959.67$4,503.13$3,802.77$3,856.84$3,445.00$3,680.53$6,073.46
Nationwide$5,756.37$7,175.31$2,686.48$2,889.04$2,360.49$2,387.43$2,130.26$2,214.62$3,450.00
Progressive$8,689.95$9,625.49$2,697.73$2,758.66$2,296.90$2,175.27$1,991.49$2,048.63$4,035.52
State Farm$5,953.88$7,324.34$2,335.96$2,554.56$2,081.72$2,081.72$1,873.89$1,873.89$3,260.00
Travelers$9,307.32$12,850.91$2,325.25$2,491.21$2,178.66$2,199.51$2,051.98$2,074.41$4,434.91
USAA$4,807.54$5,385.61$1,988.52$2,126.14$1,551.43$1,540.32$1,449.85$1,448.98$2,537.30
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Shopping around to find an insurer that will issue you a policy before you get a U.S. license will also ensure you get the best rate possible. Make sure you also take advantage of auto insurance discounts to keep rates down.

Figure out where you will stay and where you will be doing most of your driving before researching the details. For example, the Washington State Department of Licensing allows you 30 days after your move to get your state driver’s license. Before doing this, you need to register as a resident but can then pre-apply online before making an appointment at a local driver licensing office.

Of course, to be able to settle in a U.S. state as a Canadian citizen, you must first get permission from the U.S. government. When they issue a visa, you should also apply for a social security number (SSN) to make the settlement process much easier.

Can you buy a car in the U.S. with a Canadian license?

You may be able to do this, but you will need to have taken steps before you can register or insure it. You cannot use Canadian auto insurance on that car as it cannot be registered in Canada. You won’t be able to register the vehicle in the state that you buy it unless you have a driver’s license issued by one of the 50 states. Further, you must have at least the minimum amount of insurance required by the state in question, issued by an insurance company licensed to do business in that state.

Do you need a minimum amount of insurance coverage?

Almost every state requires you to have the minimum amount of insurance coverage, most often centered on liability. They may also require you to get uninsured or underinsured motorist and personal injury protection. Typically, collision or comprehensive coverage is optional.

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Working Out How to Get U.S. Car Insurance in Canada

If your permanent residence is in Canada, you can spend up to 6 months at a time in the U.S. without needing a license, so this is ideal if you simply want snowbird car insurance. If you intend to stay longer, you need to get a state driver’s license. Once you have that, you can then get long-term auto insurance for your vehicle. The rules vary from state to state, so research the state DMV website once you have decided where to settle.

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