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Does car insurance work in another state?

2019 01 31 Blog Couple Driving On Road Trip

By Madeline Klein on March 15, 2019 in Insurance Basics

Car packed? Check. Sunglasses on? Check. Audiobooks loaded? Check.

It looks like you’re all ready for a road trip to us. Before you hit the road, you may have a quick thought flash through your mind: Does my car insurance work out of state? Or maybe you’re wondering what would happen if you have a fender bender three states over. You pay for your auto insurance every month, and you want to be sure it’s got you covered wherever you’re headed.

Out-of-state car insurance

Good news: You should be covered when you’re traveling out of state with your car insurance. You’re most likely covered if you travel anywhere in the U.S, and quite possibly even some places in Canada. Check with your provider for the specifics on how far your coverage goes.

That means if you get into an accident in Missouri, your Liability Coverage from Tennessee will help you pay for damages to someone’s car if the accident is covered.

Out-of-state car insurance coverage

Every state requires a minimum amount of Liability Coverage to drive a car. Let’s say you’re a responsible driver that lives in Colorado. You’ve purchased auto insurance limits to meet your state minimums, which are $25,000 per person for bodily injury, $50,000 per occurrence for bodily injury, and $15,000 per occurrence for property damage (aka 25/50/15 for short). You travel to Texas where the state minimums for Liability Coverage are higher and are at 30/60/25.

Your minimums would automatically increase to compensate for the higher limits in Texas, or whatever state you’re traveling in. So if you did get into an accident in Texas, you’d have the coverage you need to comply with that state’s requirements.

And if you’re traveling in a state with lower minimums, you’ve still got the limits you purchased. That just means you’ll be a little more covered in those states, which is always a good thing.

This all boils down to mean that if you do travel across state lines, you shouldn’t worry about not being covered if you’ve purchased the Liability Coverage you need for your home-state auto insurance requirements.

No-fault vs. at-fault states

A no-fault state means every driver is required to file a claim after an accident, no matter who’s at fault if there is an injury involved. In these states, drivers must purchase Personal Injury Protection Coverage (PIP). Your provider would then pay for your injuries whether the accident was your fault or not. Keep in mind no-fault only refers to bodily injuries, and doesn’t affect any property damage.

New scenario: Your policy is from an at-fault state, let’s say Illinois. You get into an accident in a no-fault state, like New York. Your insurance would adapt to New York’s rules for auto insurance. That means that you’d have the coverage you need, as long as you’re following Illinois’ requirements. You may not have PIP Coverage that is required in New York, but depending on the no-fault state, the way it usually works is that your provider would temporarily extend that state’s that coverage to you. As long as you have your state required coverage limits, you don’t need to sweat not having the right coverage for other state’s requirements. But do keep in mind your out-of-state car insurance coverage always depends on the facts of the accident.

Coverage types

Liability Coverage is required by all states, so as long as you’ve paid for your auto insurance, you’ll have that coverage. Know that Liability doesn’t cover every single type of damage though.

If you’re traveling through another state and encounter a hail storm, you’d need Comprehensive Coverage to help cover that, even though Comprehensive Coverage isn’t a state requirement. We’ve explained all our coverages to help clear up what covers what.

Out-of-state incidences

If you do happen to get into an accident out of state, you’ll still follow your typical procedure to file a claim. You’ll want to take photos and get in touch with your provider as soon as possible. Just because it’s out of state doesn’t mean you don’t need to tell your provider.

And while we’re on the subject, any out of state speeding tickets can still make their way back to your provider. That means you still want to do all your safe-driving techniques and keep a keen eye out for other drivers.

Madeline Klein is Say's Digital Content Producer. She graduated from the University of Missouri with a Bachelor of Journalism, emphasis in Strategic Communication. Her experience is in writing and digital media. Madeline loves using her creativity to write and design new and exciting pieces of work for Say!