Am I Insured When Driving Out Of State?

Last Updated on January 30, 2020

You’re finally taking that summer road trip that you’ve been planning all winter. Maybe you’re going to the beaches of Cape Cod, the old town of Alexandria, the countryside of Vermont, or the arts and food of Philly. Hopefully, you’re not going to see the in-laws in Boston, but wherever you’re going, you are traveling out of your home state of New York.

Does your New York car insurance cover you in other states?

insured when driving out of stateThe simple answer is yes, your NY auto policy covers you while driving in other states.

At least 99.9% of auto insurance contracts use a lot of the same phrases, coverage definitions, and other parts that are found in a legal insurance contract.

If you look at your auto insurance policy, it will say that the policy only applies during the policy period and within the policy territory. It then states that the policy territory is:

  • The United States, including its territories or possessions
  • Puerto Rico
  • Canada

This is pretty straightforward, but it simply means that your auto insurance will cover you anywhere in the 50 United States. It will even cover you in US territories such as Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam, AND even in Canada!

When You’re Not Covered

There are really only two situations in which you would lose coverage on your road trip.

Starting Fresh in another state

Let’s say your road trip takes you to the friendly pastures of Vermont. You fall in love with the countryside, peacefulness, and slow way of living (who are we kidding?).

You already have your suitcase with your most important things in it. The village you stumble upon has a house for sale that you can easily afford. You decide right then and there that you are staying and never going back to New York.

Of course, to legally do this, there is a lot of paperwork. You’ll need to go through the hoops of becoming a resident of Vermont. In this case, your NY auto policy won’t cover you once you’ve taken permanent steps of living there.

You will need to register your vehicle in Vermont and obtain Vermont-based insurance. Your NY policy just won’t cut it with the folks at the Vermont DMV.

Popping across the (southern) border

If your road trip takes you to Niagara Falls and you decide to veer into Canada, then good news! Your NY auto policy will still provide coverage for you while you’re temporarily in Canada.

If your road trip starts to look like a getaway to Mexico and you end up crossing the Rio Grande, your NY policy will not cover you. Even if you are traveling in Texas and just decide to cross the border for a quick street taco, you will lose coverage if you are involved in an accident while in Mexico.

Different States’ Minimum Limits

One thing that gets confusing is how your policy covers you if you carry the state minimum limits. Some states have slightly different minimum coverage requirements. So, what happens if you’re driving in a state that has a higher minimum limit than what you carry?

If you get in an accident in a state with higher minimum legal requirements than what you carry, your auto policy will cover you up to those higher minimum limits.

So, your policy will extend to meet the legal requirements of whichever state you’re in, even if your own limits are lower.

However, this doesn’t mean that you will be fully covered for the costs of the accident. Your policy will only pay up to those legal minimum requirements, so if the accident costs more than that, you’re on the hook for the rest.

Being Prepared For The Road

Before setting out on your road adventure, it’s a good idea to double-check a few things.

1. If you carry the state minimum limits, consider increasing them, at least for the trip. You can never have too much liability coverage. The unfortunate reality is that there are claims involving multiple people where the damages reach into the hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars.

Protect yourself and make sure you carry liability limits that suit your needs.

2. Check to see if you have Comprehensive and Collision coverage. Even if you have an older vehicle, you might want to put full coverage on your car before you hit the road.

If you’re involved in an accident and you’re a long way from home, knowing you’ll be compensated for your damages can go a long way in making your trip a good one.

3. Consider purchasing roadside assistance, either through your insurance policy or through a company like AAA.

Now that you’re fully prepared for that road trip, sit back and enjoy the ride!

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