Car insurance protects you if you’re in an accident that’s your fault—it can also pay for damages to your own property, injuries to yourself and passengers, and cover for repairs if your car is damaged by a natural disaster. While the policy is specific to your address, that doesn’t mean your coverage is limited by state borders.
Your insurance will cover you nationwide, but if you’ve moved out of state or you’re driving to Canada or Mexico, things may be different.
Does My Auto Insurance Policy Protect Me During Out of State Travel?
Yes, it does. With a valid policy, you’re covered everywhere in the US, even when you’re involved in an accident where the other driver isn’t local or you’re out of town. Auto insurance covers you on:
- Road trips
- Out of state vacations
- Cross-border commutes
Even if your insurer doesn’t do business in the state to which you’re traveling, you’re still protected. If you’re carrying your state’s minimum coverage, you’ll meet every other state’s minimum.
If I’m Out of State and Get Into An Accident, Am I Covered?
As previously mentioned, your insurance covers you in every state—even those with different insurance requirements. While many think that they’ll only get their coverage limit, most insurers will cover you for the minimum in the state to which you’re traveling. Known as a broadening or liberalization clause, these provisions also consider your coverage needs if you go to a no-fault insurance state that requires PIP or personal injury protection.
When Am I Not Covered?
In most cases, drivers can go on road trips without worrying about their auto insurance. However, there are a few cases where an existing policy might not cover you, such as:
- Moving to a new state. If you’re relocating, you’re covered on the way there. You’ll need to update your policy or buy a new one in your destination state to meet its insurance requirements.
- Going to Mexico or Canada. If you’re going from the United States into Mexico, your auto insurance policy may not cover you. You’ll need a special temporary policy—most insurers work with Mexican companies to offer coverage for south-of-the-border tourists. Many American insurers do offer coverage for Canada trips, but you’ll need to confirm coverage.
If you have time before your trip, check your policy or call your insurer to see if you’re covered. Most insurers have smartphone apps and websites, which make it easy to reach representatives with your questions.
How to Handle an Out of State Accident
No matter which state you’re in when an accident occurs, follow the standard accident checklist.
- Check to see if anyone is hurt
- Notify emergency services and law enforcement
- Document and assess the damage with photos if possible
- Exchange information with the other driver
- Notify your insurer
- Consider calling an attorney
When speaking to an insurance representative, tell them you’re out of state. Depending on your policy, you may be covered for a tow truck and other expenses. Your insurer may be able to help you find a nearby repair shop and answer your policy questions.
An out of state auto accident can be a frightening and confusing experience, but you don’t have to deal with it alone. If you’re involved in an accident in another state—regardless of fault—your auto insurance company can provide important information and assistance.