Do Canadians Need Extra Insurance if They Drive in the U.S.?

You’re taking a trip to the U.S., but you’re not sure if you need extra car insurance coverage. U.S. laws are a bit different from Canadian laws. Fortunately, your insurer likely has you covered.


While insurance laws do differ between Canada and the U.S., your contract likely contains provisions that allow you to travel over the border safely.

Check Your Insurance Policy

Before you cross the 49th parallel, make sure your policy covers you. Most do, but you want to be absolutely certain of it before leaving the country. If you can’t find the information in your policy contract, call your insurer.

Don’t Bother With Rental Insurance

It’s a common myth that you need to get rental coverage when you rent a vehicle. If you’re not driving your own car into the U.S., you may still be covered under your own personal policy in Canada. Know your current coverages. Again, check your policy contract for details. Usually, your insurance company will provide extended coverage for any rental vehicles that you will be driving.

Also, if you’re paying for a rental with a credit card, check with your car company to see what, if any, extended coverages are offered.

Checking Liability

When traveling into the U.S., you may want to increase your liability coverage. While it’s not imperative, it’s generally a good idea. If you’re in an auto accident, and someone is injured, this money will pay for damages.

Why it’s important: if you’re involved in a car accident while you’re visiting, and your liability isn’t sufficient to pay for damages, the other driver might choose to sue you – especially if the damages are significant. Since you don’t live in the U.S., having to return to the country would be both expensive and a burden. Of course, you could just hope that the person doesn’t spend the money on a lawyer specializing in international law, but that’s not a great way to deal with the issue.

Reassessing Collision Needs

If you don’t have collision coverage, consider getting it for your trip. You’re in a new, unfamiliar area. You may not be familiar with some of the driving laws and restrictions in the U.S. If you are involved in an accident, the last thing you want is for you (and your family) to be stranded because you don’t have a way to repair your vehicle.

Add Loss of Use

Loss of use will pay for a rental vehicle if you’re involved in an accident. This is really helpful if you are going to be driving your own car, but it’s not really necessary if you’re driving a rental for the entire trip.

Last, but definitely not least, know your insurance company’s international toll-free number. If you do need them, you probably don’t want to pay international phone charges just to speak to a claims representative or ask about certain provisions in your policy. A lot of Canadians get so focused on the coverages they need when traveling out of the country that they forget to take an international phone number with them. This is your safety net. Don’t leave home without it.

Gillian Kearney is an insurance consultant that has lived in both Canada and the US. Her articles mainly appear on motoring and insurance websites. Visit to learn more.


3 thoughts on “Do Canadians Need Extra Insurance if They Drive in the U.S.?”

  1. Hi Steve, great article. I think the biggest exposure Canadians have when driving in the US is not having travel health insurance. A week or two in the hospital can be financially devastating if you have to pay for it 100% out of pocket!

  2. I’ve only been to the USA once and it took me forever to get over the border being a PR in Canada that I haven’t been back. I heard something about this once where it was mentioned to make sure I was fully covered when going to the USA just in case something happens. Fortunately we are ok but like you mention to up your liability that might be a good idea. I think any time we travel outside of where we live it’s always best to do research before going in terms of insurance and coverage.

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