Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insuran...

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Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager

UPDATED: Aug 12, 2021

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Key takeaways...

  • UK drivers visiting the U.S. are required to carry car insurance when driving in the U.S., in accordance with state requirements
  • You have several options when getting temporary insurance to cover your driving while visiting in the U.S. from the UK
  • Check ahead to insure that you are going to be covered for the time period that you’ll be visiting


If you are a foreigner who plans to drive a car in the United States, it is important to understand the law regarding the insurance that you must carry. Being from another country other than the U.S. does not excuse anyone from not having insurance.

The law states that all drivers who drive on US roads are required to carry the required liability, personal injury, and property damage insurance.

The Border Patrol checks drivers to prove that they are a legal citizen and that they have proper insurance before entering the country. If you are stopped driving in the U.S. and you are from another country, you will also have to provide a valid international driving license.

Be prepared and get the best coverage for your money. Use our free rate comparison tool above.

What type of insurance do foreign drivers need?

Whether you are from the UK or any other foreign country, you will need to have a non-US citizen insurance plan. It should state your name and identification information. The choices of coverage for U.S. insurance for foreign drivers includes:

  • Liability only – If the car you are using only carried liability insurance, you need only to match this if you get your own policy. This will ensure that any liabilities are covered in the event of an accident that is your fault.
  • Liability for fire, theft, vandalism, and personal injury – If the car you’ll be driving also had coverage for fire, theft, vandalism, and personal injury, then it is probably advisable to match this coverage as well.
  • Property Damage coverage – Check to see if the car you’ll be using had additional property damage coverage. In the case of a rental, this may be taken care of by the insurance company. If it is not, you will want to add this coverage as well.

While traveling, there are minimum insurance requirements that need to be met. Foreign drivers must carry some personal injury protection. That’s because people from the UK or other countries driving in the U.S. may have a somewhat greater risk from a lawsuit in the event of an accident.

To avoid potential personal injury lawsuits, you should carry the passengers in your vehicle as well as those in other cars and yourself.

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What about insuring rental cars?

If a citizen from another country is renting a car, the rental company will usually take care of the insurance coverage in that case. If the rental car is damaged in an accident, the rental company will be out the amount of money they invested in the car.

So losing this property would be considered a business loss. Therefore, they usually take steps to ensure these rentals for the amount it would take to replace them.

Be sure to ask the rental company what their policies are for insuring their vehicles before renting.

In the case of a non-US Citizen borrowing a car from a friend or family member, most auto insurance companies will look into a few things before providing you with their policy details. For example, more often than not, the value of the vehicle is taken into account.

Also, you may need to purchase additional insurance coverage when your friend or family member carries the state minimums of the state in which you have the car registered.

If your friend does not have enough coverage, you may need to take out temporary insurance. Temporary insurance is sometimes known as “gap coverage.”

It is issued in cases where the driver does not have enough insurance to cover any possible accidents or injuries. When you drive someone else’s car, you have to rely on their policy to cover you if you have an accident.

Make sure you ask them about their insurance before you drive.

If you discover that you need additional insurance, you can take out a temporary insurance plan (gap coverage) to cover the time that you will be driving your friend’s car. If you’re not sure whether or not you’ll need a policy to cover yourself, talk to an insurance agent. They’ll be able to get you on the right track and let you know what the proper insurance requirement for your particular plans will be.

You can also do this with a rental or a leased vehicle if the lease company or rental company does not cover you sufficiently.

What does gap insurance cover?

It’s important to understand what temporary or gap insurance covers.

This article from the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner released this information to illustrate the fact that gap coverage only covers the amount of value assessed by the insurance company.

What this means is that, if you have an accident while carrying temporary insurance of this type, it will only cover the difference between the value of the car and the amount of damage.

Instead of temporary insurance, which only covers you for the value of the car as the insurance company assesses it, you could also ask your friend or family member to add you as a temporary member of the policy they already own.

Then you would be covered under their policy they already have in place. If you had an accident, you would be covered whether you were a passenger or a driver of their car.

Another idea is to purchase full coverage for the period that you know you will be driving within the United States.

If you are planning to stay for a few months, this is likely going to be a better option. Remember that gap insurance, a cover note, or temporary insurance is only good for one-28 days.

The best thing to do is you are a foreign citizen planning to visit the U.S. shortly is to plan ahead. Find out what kind of car you’ll be driving, whether it is a rental car, a leased vehicle, or a friend or relative’s car.

Then ask them how much insurance is covering the vehicle and whether they carry liability only, liability with collision, and comprehensive. Whatever you decide, you will want to match your friend’s insurance as closely as possible if you do decide to obtain your insurance policy.

If your friend is already covered, getting temporary insurance may be sufficient.

What are the requirements for obtaining U.S. insurance?

There are some basic requirements for securing insurance in the U.S. if you are from the UK or any other country. Below are the requirements for obtaining insurance in the U.S., even if you are a non-U.S. resident:

  • Social security number and valid government-issued I.D.
  • Personal information that identifies you such as your car make, model, and year, and the name in which it is registered; if a rental, this is not required
  • Record of citizenship to identify your country of origin
  • Driving record (if any)
  • Basic contact information

Obtaining temporary insurance is not a complicated matter, even if you are from the UK.

You just need to show the insurance company that you have the proper paperwork available to prove that you are either a temporary or permanent resident of the U.S., as well as your contact information, age, name, and social security number.

Some insurance companies may not require all of this information, but this is fairly standard.

If you are a UK resident (or a resident of another country) planning to come to the U.S., type of it is great that you found this site. You can get a free quote on car insurance you wish to obtain, provided you have the proper information before you call.

Locate your social security card, car registration information, your license plate information, and anything else that may be useful. By having everything ready ahead of time, it becomes much easier to look at insurance quotes if you’re doing it on your own. If you’re talking with a licensed insurance agent, they’ll be able to tell you what you need.

Whatever the case, we can help by offering you some different options for your car insurance needs. Whether you are a temporary resident of the U.S. visiting from the UK or if you intend to stay awhile, doing your homework can save you a lot of headaches in the future.

Investopedia does warn foreign drivers that living abroad may increase your rates when you move back to your country of origin.

Feel free to browse our site, shop, and compare policies. Also, check to see what types of permanent insurance are available if you plan to stay for 6 months to a year or more.

Compare today by using our free tool below!

References:

  1. https://www.naic.org/state_web_map.htm
  2. https://www.cbp.gov/border-security/along-us-borders/overview
  3. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/cover-note-insurance.asp?ad=dirN&qo=investopediaSiteSearch&qs…
  4. https://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/1211/how-living-abroad-can-increase-your-insurance-pre…