Auto Insurance While Traveling Abroad

Do you need auto insurance while traveling abroad? All major US-based auto insurance providers will cover you if you drive over the border to Canada. However, not every insurance company will cover you if you drive into Mexico. To see where you're covered, make sure to read over tour car insurance policy or call your insurer directly and ask about international auto coverage.

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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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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years

UPDATED: Nov 12, 2020

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Traveling abroad is a great way to open your eyes to new ways of life and to get a break from the grind that is life. Leaving from the United States, you generally have two options if you would like to travel outside of the country – drive over the border, or fly overseas. Regardless of how you get there, it’s of utmost importance to be insured if you decide to drive a vehicle in your destination of choice. Below, we take a look at insuring your car when you travel abroad, whether you drive your own car over the border, or rent a car in your new destination.

Road Trip Insurance Checklist

Traveling to Canada or Mexico is a great way to get away from work, and the stresses of life in general. It takes less than a day to get to one or the other by car, from almost anywhere in the country, and traveling outside the country is bound to be an exciting experience now matter what the occasion.

If you do decide to make a road trip out of, rather than fly, you need to make sure you’re vehicle is ready to endure the trek. Among other things, your checklist should include checking your oil and other fluids, filling your tires, and most importantly, making sure you have appropriate coverage for the trip.

There are a number of things to consider, but you first need to know if your insurance policy will continue to provide coverage once you cross the border. The good news is that all major US-based auto insurance providers will cover you if you drive over the border into Canada. The bad news is that not every insurance company will cover you if you drive into Mexico. If you’re unsure of what your insurer covers, its time to read over your car insurance policy. You can also call you insurer directly, and ask about your international auto coverage.

To get a better idea on how to insure your vehicle if you drive to Canada or Mexico, check out our guides on the subjects below:

Is 24-Hour Roadside Assistance for You?

Auto Insurance While Traveling Abroad
Make sure you are insured when you drive your car outside the country

Remember that on your long trek to Canada or Mexico, you’ll be driving through many states and unknown territories. If you aren’t confident in your ability to repair your vehicle in the case of a breakdown, flat tire, or any other number of mishaps, you may consider adding 24-Hour Roadside Assistance Coverage to your auto insurance policy.

You’ll be really happy you did when you break down in the middle of nowhere without a gas station in miles. Plus, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

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Renting a Car While Traveling Abroad

If you’d prefer to fly, or maybe if Europe is more suited to your tastes, than you may consider renting car. Most car rental agencies actually include insurance in the terms and cost of the rental, so in most cases, you don’t need rental insurance. Be sure to check with the rental company before trying to drive out of the country, if it’s restricted by the terms of the rental agency, you could end up paying exorbitant amounts of money to do so.

In some countries, the cost of insurance can significantly increase the price of rentals. Countries like Mexico, for example, could cost you an arm and a leg, due the escalated risk of theft and damage. In Canada, on the other hand, rental insurance is likely to cost you much less.

The cost of auto insurance is constantly fluctuating, and if you haven’t checked to see if your rate is still competitive within the past six months, you could be missing out on hundreds of dollars in savings. If your current policy lacks international coverage, now is the perfect time to upgrade to your auto insurance.

Insuring Your Rental Car Abroad

When you travel abroad and decide to rent a car, you pretty much have three options when it comes to insurance: buying insurance from the rental agency, getting insurance through your credit card provider, or getting rental car insurance through your travel insurer. Let’s take a look at these three options below:

Buying Through the Rental Car Company

Major rental car companies, as well as some lesser known companies, will offer various type of auto insurance coverage. You can purchase the coverage directly from the company when you pick up the car that you are renting. Typically, coverage through a rental car company coincides with the coverage that a standard auto or homeowner’s insurance policy would offer, and include:

  • A collision damage waiver. This insurance coverage waives you of being held responsible for damages to the rental vehicle or the theft of the rental car. The cost vary, though it usually relatively inexpensive and is based on a price per-day.
  • Supplemental liability coverage. This coverage enhances the current liability coverage you already have, bringing the coverage up to $1 million. The cost for this coverage also varies and is based on price per-day. It is also relatively inexpensive.
  • Personal effects coverage. With this coverage, you will be reimbursed by the rental car company for any personal effects that are stolen out of the vehicle you are renting. The cost is based on a price per-day basis and varies from provider to provider. This is usually the least expensive coverage.
  • Personal accident insurance. With this coverage, you will receive coverage for medical bills and accidental death in the event that you or a passenger in the rental vehicle are injured or perish in a collision. The cost varies from provider to provider, is based on a per-day basis, and like other insurance coverages offered by rental car companies, it is relatively inexpensive.

Getting Insurance Through Your Credit Card Company

Some credit card companies provide coverage for rental cars. It’s considered a perk for carrying the card. To find out if your credit card company offers rental car coverage, contact the company directly. They will be able to let you know whether or not you are covered, and if so, the will also be able to let you know about the details of your coverage.

If your credit card does offer rental car insurance, typically, it will be the bare minimum. For example, it is likely that it will not cover personal liability or injury; however, it will probably offer collision coverage, as well as theft protection. Also, with the majority of credit cards, the insurance that is offered is considered secondary coverage. In other words, if you carry auto insurance, you will have to file a claim with your provider first; however, the insurance offered by your credit card would kick in where your auto insurance ends.

Getting Car Insurance Through Travel Insurance

If you have a travel insurance plan, it may offer coverage for rental cars, and generally, it will be add-on coverage. While the coverage and limits provided by traveler insurance vary and depend on the specific provider, typically, it will protect you from having to pay for any damages that occur. It can also protect you from having to pay out of your own pocket if the vehicle is stolen.

To find out if your traveler’s insurance offers rental car coverage, contact the provider before you rent a car. They will be able to let you know whether or not you are covered, and if so, what the limits, exclusions, and restrictions are.

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