How does auto insurance work in the US?

auto insurance

In a country as big as the United States, and even if you find yourself in a particularly well-served area, the car is an imponderable one. But once on site and your vehicle purchased, no way to drive without insurance. How does car insurance work in the United States? Price, license, registration, products, history … We approach everything here.

First of all, we need to explain one thing: you cannot drive in the United States with your French license. Do not be foolish to drive with, because the US police will then consider you without a license! Do not make the mistake of presenting a French license to an insurance company: it will refuse you any contract. You need:

auto insurance

An international permit (to be collected in France before leaving with your prefecture, sub-prefecture or town hall), but valid on the US territory only for 3 months. Therefore, this license will be especially useful for renting a car. Indeed, many insurers are quite reluctant with drivers with this license.

That is a Florida permit that you can get at the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) center in your county. By doing this, and doing it as soon as possible upon your arrival, you can get auto insurance for your brand new car.

With or without driver history?

Arriving in the United States without a history of auto insurance, you will be offered a new driver contract. And this, even if you have 15 to 20 years driving behind and thousands of kilometers rolled. In this case, your monthly payments will be higher.

However, before leaving, we recommend that you contact the company that ensures your car in France and ask for an English version of your driver-insured history.

By doing this, you will offer the “good graces” of some US companies that will no longer consider you a new driver. The monthly payments that will be offered to you will be less.

The 3 typical products of insurance companies

Basic cover

Most of the time, insurance companies will offer 3 standard products for you and your vehicle. 4 guarantees are also advanced, as we will see here.

Standard cover

In general, the basic coverage offered by insurance companies does not apply to all 4 guarantees. Only three: namely damage to property to third parties, bodily injury to third parties or damage caused by an uninsured driver or when it is in hit-and-run behavior.


Improved coverage

The standard cover is an improved version of the basic because it includes all three warranties mentioned above but with covers 2 to 5 times higher. It also offers an ultimate guarantee: the bodily injury caused to the driver or his passengers is also covered.

The improved or premium coverage, depending on the establishment, obviously includes all 4 guarantees mentioned above, but with much higher coverage. For example, we are talking about $ 100,000 to $ 300,000 for damage to third parties or $ 50,000 for property damage.

Average rates for car insurance in the US in 2014

To get a clearer picture of the US auto insurance market today and what it has in store for you, we take this study from Value Penguin, a US insurance and data specialist that specializes in insurance. Surround. You will discover here, state by state, from Alabama to Wyoming, the average price, both monthly and yearly, of car insurance for a car.

Buying a used car from an individual

This is often the right plan when you arrive in the United States, and you have already reaped many costs. This way, you will be able to equip yourself for $ 2000 minimum, but you will not have the first choice! Still, by choosing this option, you are also taking risks. Why? Firstly, because you are not sure that the car is insurable. To be clear, it is strongly advised (once the two parties have agreed on the price) to visit your future insurer, accompanied by the owner. You will then be stipulated if the gray card or “title” is clean or not. If so, then you can ensure it.