Car Insurance and Travel: Are You Covered When You Leave Home? Some people enjoy occasionally taking spontaneous short weekend trips. They throw some things in a duffel or backpack and off they go. Others wouldn’t be caught dead stepping out of the house until every list has been made (and crossed off), unused appliances unplugged, light timers set, and a sitter arranged to stop by and check on the cat. Whichever sort of travel personality you have, everyone loves a vacation or a getaway. Taking time to recharge and renew the soul has health benefits that working overtime every day cannot provide. If you own your own vehicle and take your weekend and vacation trips in it, you may want to take the time to check your car insurance coverage to be sure that you have proper coverage for travel. Don’t wait until you are ready to walk out the door to find out. Do it now and then you will always be prepared. Interstate Travel In order to have a car registered or drive, every US state requires having no less than the state required minimum liability protection (or proofing that you make enough money you don’t need insurance). Each state determines minimum requirements and insurance laws. Many are “tort” (fault assigned) states and some are no-fault states. Tort requires the party who is at fault to pay for the injuries and damages they cause; no-fault is purchasing coverage for yourself and your car and no matter who is at fault, you use your own insurance for protection. “If I have car insurance for my state, am I covered in another state?” Yes and no. Yes: As long as you have purchased car insurance that meets your state’s requirements, your insurance will cover you even if you travel to other states. No: You might not have enough protection for every possible scenario. For example, if you have tort insurance and excluded first party medical, uninsured/under-insured coverage, and opted to not have Collision or Comprehensive for physical damage you could be left without coverage for a not-at-fault accident in a no-fault state. You can try to sue the driver for some compensation, but now you are talking about attorneys, travelling every time there is a hearing, and time away from work. You are better of just making sure you have plenty of protection on your insurance. Likewise, if you are a no-fault state resident and you are the at-fault party in an accident in a tort state, your policy isn’t likely to have enough (or any) liability protection and all injuries and damage will have to come from your pocket. Before leaving home, consider these options: Tort state residents should make sure they have Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage for coverage if another driver who doesn’t have proper coverage hits you. Tort state residents should also ensure they have as much first party medical benefits as they can afford before travelling in case someone from a no-fault state hits you or if you cause an accident. No-fault state residents should include liability protection for both Bodily Injury and Property Damage. Traveling to Mexico or Canada Mexico There are some insurance companies that will say they cover you up to so many miles into Mexico; what they may forget to mention is that it is only for your physical damage coverage (Collision or Comprehensive) and not liability. Your liability doesn’t extend into Mexico; Mexico doesn’t require visitors to have Mexico car insurance. ¿No problemo, Si? No! If you had any kind of an accident, no matter how minor, it is customary for Mexican Police to take both drivers into custody until fault can be determined. If you are considered the faulty party, you have to prove you have the financial means to pay the injuries and damage or you could be jailed until you do. If you just had taken 8 minutes to purchase a temporary Mexican auto insurance policy, you would have much less hassle. I was able to get a quote for a two-day Mexican policy in about 2 minutes and it was less than $50 for $500,000 third party coverage. Canada When driving in Canada, you will need to obtain a Canadian Non-Resident Insurance Certificate from your (or another) insurance company and show proof of this along with your US insurance card. This is mainly due to the fact that Canada requires much higher liability protection than the US: $200,000 each person in most Provinces, $500,000 in Nova Scotia. It’s summertime! Enjoy the weather and take a relaxing road trip. Make it more relaxing by knowing you don’t have anything to worry about when it comes to financial protection on the road.