While a majority of people understand the importance of auto insurance when driving in their home state, a lot of my clients really had never stopped to question what happens when driving across state lines. Am I covered? What happens if I cause an accident? What if someone driving from another state hits me? There are countless situations to look at when it comes to how auto insurance works when driving across state lines, but first let’s cover the basics. 

How does my auto insurance protect me across state lines?

When it comes to the question of how your auto insurance protects you when driving across state lines there are a couple main questions I got from clients so let’s take some time to answer them. 

  1. Am I Covered? 

    The first concern that you may have is simply: “is my insurance going to cover me if I travel to another state?” The beautiful thing about auto insurance is that it follows the vehicles covered on the policy. What that means for you is that if you have a California auto policy and get into an accident in the state of Louisiana your auto insurance coverage will cover you at the same limits it would in your home state. Let’s take a look at an example! 

    Example: Tom is taking his family on a road trip to see the Grand Canyon. He currently has a Virginia auto policy with liability limits of $250,000/$500,000/$100,000. While driving through New Mexico he is involved in an accident that causes $65,000 worth of property damage. As stated above, he currently has property damage coverage of $100,000 on his Virginia auto policy, so in this instance his auto insurance would be able to fully cover the accident.  

    This is a great example of how carrying quality liability limits will protect you not only in your home state but will also provide protection for you and your family no matter where you may be traveling to!  

  2. So what is different?

    The primary difference in auto insurance when traveling across state lines comes into play if you are currently carrying state minimum limits. This is another reason why I always recommend that my clients carry the highest liability limits that makes financial sense for their family.  With that being said let’s talk about how your auto insurance works if you are traveling across state lines with state minimum liability coverage.  The way I like to explain it to clients is that whenever you cross state lines, your auto insurance will immediately reflect the state minimum liability limits of that state if they are higher. If they are lower, you will maintain your current liability limits that you carry on your auto policy. Let’s take a look at an example! 

    Example: If you are traveling across the country and you currently are carrying the state minimum requirements of your home state of Ohio, you will find your policy to have current liability limits of $25000/$50000/$25000. If you are traveling through the state of Texas, your auto insurance limits will automatically increase to the Texas state minimums of $30000/$60000/$25000. If you were to have an accident that caused $27000 in bodily injury damage to one person, your auto insurance would still be able to cover because your limits match the Texas state minimums. 


How does my auto insurance protect me out of the country?

Now that we’ve talked about how your auto insurance works when crossing state lines, let’s take it one step further and take a look at travelling out of the country! As exciting as seeing Big Ben would be, you may wonder what happens if I have an accident while driving around the streets of London: after all, driving in the left lane can be a bit of an adjustment!

Here is the thing about auto insurance outside of the United States. Typically, your current US auto policy will not cover you abroad, but have no fear, there is a solution! Upon arriving at your destination, if you choose to rent a car, the rental car carrier should offer you car insurance for that country for the duration of the trip. That way you don’t have to risk potentially having an accident with no coverage! One alternative option that you may be able to take advantage of is an endorsement on your auto policy that will provide limited coverage for driving in Mexico and Canada. This will vary by insurance carrier so it’s always best to consult your agent to see what options are available.

Let’s wrap it up

In short, I will always recommend that clients always first consult their agent prior to embarking on any journey. When it comes right down to it, if we are taking the appropriate precautions, your insurance will be there to cover you no matter where you are driving in the United States. So go travel, drive wherever your heart desires with the peace of mind that you are protected! 

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