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Car Insurance Tips for Road Trips

Younis Shuaib

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Memorial Day marks the start of road trip season, a time for relaxing adventures that let you view new scenery, listen to music, and simply enjoy a long drive. Last year, Memorial Day trips hit pre-pandemic levels of over 42 million travelers, with more than 37 million traveling by automobile.

While driving for hours or days can be a nice breath of fresh air, a lack of proper coverage could lead to a lot of stress in the event of an accident - especially as our data shows that your current insurance premium can increase by up to 50% in the event of an accident. This article breaks down what car insurance for road trips you should have and how to prepare before heading out for the holidays.

Understanding Your Current Auto Insurance

Auto insurance policies vary by provider, location, and preference. You should know what road trip coverage you have and how to stay covered during road trips before you set out. Apart from your basic coverages, there are a few other things you should be aware of.

Driving Your Car vs. Driving a Rental Car

The first decision you'll need to make is what vehicle you'll drive. There are advantages and disadvantages to either driving your own car or renting a car for your upcoming road trip. 

When driving your own car, you'll use your existing car insurance. This is an easy option as it allows you to simply pack up and go. However, driving with your own car means you'll be assuming more risk, especially if you're heading to areas where outside factors like weather and animals may damage your property. You may also want to consider adding other coverages like roadside assistance to protect you if you get into trouble in unfamiliar terrain.

Renting a car may be a good option for several reasons. Besides not wanting to put extra miles on your vehicle, you might want to rent to get better gas mileage or because your car isn't as reliable as you'd like it to be for a long trip. Using a rental will also allow you to choose an insurance policy just for your trip, which may differ from your regular policy. However, choosing cheaper coverage will negatively affect you if your car gets damaged.

Driving With Others

Driving for long periods often means taking shifts at the wheel. Before turning your vehicle over to a passenger, check your coverage. In most situations, you can allow others to drive your car through permissive use. If you give permission to someone to drive your car and there is an accident, your insurance will cover the damages to the extent of your policy.

Other types of insurance for road trips can be useful. Non-owner car insurance is liability insurance for damage and injuries that a passenger can purchase to protect themselves before they drive someone else's car. Temporary car insurance is another option. This insurance provides coverage over a brief period, and many use it to get auto insurance to drive a vehicle they don't own.

Insurance in Different States

A survey conducted in September of 2022 showed that Florida and New York were the most-visited states in the U.S. Of the adults interviewed, 61% had been to Florida and 55% had been to New York. Conversely, only 15% had traveled to North Dakota and 13% to Alaska. Whether you're planning to head to the Sunshine State or the Last Frontier, it's a good idea to know how your coverage works when you drive over state lines.

Your auto insurance policy generally won't change when you drive across other states. ” 

Not all states require you to have auto insurance. Virginia and New Hampshire let you choose if you want coverage or not. However, accidents happen everywhere, and if you cause one, you'll still need to pay for the damages. Also, keep in mind that state laws differ, meaning the minimum auto insurance requirements will, too. 

Your auto insurance policy generally won't change when you drive across other states. However, if your policy is only for your state's minimum requirements, it may change slightly when you drive through a state with a higher minimum requirement. If you travel in a state that has a higher minimum, your policy will adjust to accommodate the law. If you drive through a state with a lower minimum, your insurance will remain the same as in your home state.

In most cases, as long as you have auto insurance in your home state, you won't need additional insurance for a road trip. If you plan to spend an extended period in another state or move completely, on the other hand, you must abide by different rules, and it can help to consult a professional.

Insurance in Canada and Mexico

The U.S. has a lot to offer regarding exciting travel destinations, but some may have the itch to travel internationally. If you're interested in heading north to go hiking in Banff National Park or south to enjoy some authentic chilaquiles, you're not alone.

In 2022, the number of U.S. citizens traveling to Canada jumped to 9.09 million from 2.09 million the previous year. Likewise, U.S. citizens traveling to Mexico reached 33.54 million, up from 28.7 million in the same timeframe. If you're packing your passport on this year's road trip, you'll want to check your policy to see if you're covered for driving to Canada or Mexico.

Many large U.S. car insurance providers will cover you if you drive north of the border into Canada. However, you may have to get additional coverage when driving in Mexico. Some providers don't directly offer coverage in Mexico but have partners that do. Speaking with an agent from a knowledgeable company like EverQuote can help you get the best coverage for your international trip. 

Find the right coverage in your state

How Should I Prepare for My Road Trip?

Before setting out, put yourself in the best possible situation to avoid accidents and problems while on your trip. Preparing your car with a few simple steps can save you time, money, and stress. If your vehicle has any dashboard lights illuminated, is making strange noises, or shaking when you don't think it should be, it's a good idea to take it in for maintenance. 

Taking care of other issues like oil changes or tire rotations is also encouraged. Test your vehicle's lights, tire pressure, and battery to make sure everything is functioning correctly. While repair and maintenance costs may be annoying, they will be less annoying than an engine failure in west Texas. 

Once your car is ready, make sure you're ready, as well. Stock your vehicle with necessities in case of an emergency. Some of the things you'll want to consider include:

  • First-aid kit
  • Jumper cables
  • Tire jack
  • Drinking water
  • Non-perishable food
  • Medicines
  • Backup GPS or maps
  • Appropriate charger cables
  • Basic tools
  • Enough clothing to keep warm

To reduce the possibility of accidents, only drive when you're well-rested and hydrated. Take breaks when you need to and switch drivers if necessary. Also, it's important to always wear your seatbelt and follow all traffic rules.

If you get into an accident, printing out your insurance information or downloading it onto your phone can help in nerve-wracking situations. Having the right amount of insurance will also ease your stress. We recommend exploring what options are out there to make sure you have the appropriate amount of coverage for your road tip.

Frequently Asked Questions

My home state doesn't require car insurance - do I need to get insurance to drive through other states?
The short answer is yes - it strongly advised that you get insurance if you plan to drive through states other than Virginia or New Hampshire. All drivers are subject to the laws of the state they are driving in.
Do I need to notify my insurance company before driving to another state?
While it may not be a standard requirement, it is strongly advised that you notify your insurance provider in advance of interstate trips - especially if you are traveling to a state with higher minimum liability requirements.
Will my car insurance cover me in another state?
Yes - as long as you aren't permanently moving to another state, your current insurance should cover any issues you encounter on the roads of another state. That said, it is always good to get in touch with your insurance provider in advance to verify.

🔍 Auto Insurance Methodology - Premiums are sourced from over 30,000 zip codes across 200 insurance companies. We estimate premiums based on policies seeking 50/100 in liability with $500 deductibles for collision and comprehensive coverage. Rates are based a 35-year-old single female with a good credit score and no history of accidents or violations driving a 2023 Toyota RAV4 LE. We assume no unique benefits or discounts are applied for these rates. Your own rates may be different.