January 13, 2022

Auto Insurance for Undocumented Immigrants

How much does your immigration status affect your auto insurance?

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If you’re an undocumented immigrant, you may not be sure if you can get auto insurance. But auto insurance is a necessity for all vehicles driven in the U.S. If you want to drive, it’s a non-negotiable.

We’ve answered the most common questions we get about undocumented immigrants and auto insurance, from obtaining a driver’s license to comparing rates.

Can undocumented immigrants get auto insurance?

Undocumented immigrants can get auto insurance in states that allow them to get driver’s licenses, as the U.S. requires drivers to have driver’s licenses to get insured. Currently, 15 states and Washington, D.C., allow undocumented immigrants get driver’s licenses:

If you can’t get a driver’s license in your state, you may be able to get one through DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals federal program. It allows people who meet certain criteria to get a Social Security number and employment authorization documents, enabling them to get driver’s licenses in every state.2

The criteria for DACA are as follows:

  • You must be under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012.
  • You must have come to the U.S. before you turned 16.
  • You must have lived in the U.S. from June 15, 2007, to the present day.
  • You must have physically been in the U.S. both on June 15, 2012, and at the time that you’re requesting deferred action.
  • You didn’t have lawful status as of June 15, 2012, either as a legal immigrant or as someone whose immigration status expired.
  • You are in school currently, have graduated or received a certificate of completion for high school, have a GED, or have been honorably discharged from the Armed Forces or Coast Guard.
  • You haven’t been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors.
  • You don’t pose a threat to national security or public safety.3

Can illegal immigrants get car insurance in New York?

New York is one of the 15 states that allows undocumented immigrants to get car insurance, but that’s a new development in recent years and only applies to immigrants with driver’s licenses. In June 2019, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Green Light Law, which gave over 250,000 undocumented New Yorkers permission to get driver’s licenses and auto insurance without discrimination for their citizenship/legal status in the U.S.

Before the bill passed, auto insurance providers would charge higher rates for undocumented immigrants based on their lack of driving history and citizenship. Now, undocumented immigrants can get auto insurance and participate in usage-based insurance or telematics, which is the tracking of safe driving, miles driven, and other behaviors.4

Can an undocumented immigrant buy a car?

Yes, an undocumented immigrant can buy a car as long as they have the following:

  • Valid driver’s license
  • Auto insurance card
  • Trade documents such as a loan release
  • Last two pay stubs
  • Proof of residency, like a current utility bill
  • List of references

FYI

None of your references can live in the same household as you.

None of your references can live in the same household as you.

Is car insurance more expensive for immigrants?

In the states where undocumented immigrants can get driver’s licenses (Hawaii, California, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Washington, Illinois, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut, New York, Vermont, and Washington, D.C.),5 car insurance may or may not be more expensive for immigrants, depending on when they got their driver’s licenses. That’s because one factor that affects the cost of car insurance is driving records. If the immigrants are recent, they may not have much of a driving record to go off of, which could increase premiums.

David Reischer, an immigration lawyer at LegalAdvice.com, explained that “auto insurance carriers will charge more if the person has not had a U.S. license for at least three years because the driving history is less known. This increased premium is not discrimination against an undocumented immigrant, but rather the insurance company is uncertain whether the driver is a potentially safe or risky driver that is prone to accidents.”

In conclusion, undocumented immigrants who have had their driver’s licenses for at least three years may get lower rates, but undocumented immigrants who have had their licenses for less than three years will see higher rates.

Is it illegal not to have car insurance?

It is illegal to not have car insurance. Almost every state in the U.S. requires property damage liability, and most states except Florida and New Jersey require bodily injury liability as well.

There are also only two states that don’t have an insurance requirement: Virginia and New Hampshire. Virginia allows drivers to pay a $500 uninsured motor vehicle fee if they don’t want insurance. This legally allows drivers to drive an uninsured vehicle. There are no mandatory insurance laws for the state of New Hampshire unless you are in an at-fault uninsured accident; then you’ll be required to carry the insurance.

NOTE

Many other states also require uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, medical payments, and personal injury protection as well. To see what your state requires, read our guide to auto insurance.

Recap

Those are the most common questions about getting auto insurance as an undocumented immigrant, but if you have more questions, read our auto insurance FAQs, a resource for everything auto. If you’re ready to apply for a driver’s license in the United States, check out the auto insurance companies with the best auto insurance rates.

You’re might be able to find an affordable car insurance company that can give you an insurance quote in seconds, even for high-risk people with a low credit score, bad driving record, or gap in coverage. Simply enter your ZIP code to start comparing auto insurance quotes. These offers are not binding, so you can see the cost of an auto insurance program before you sign on the dotted line.

Citations

  1. States (and DC) That Allow Undocumented Immigrants to Obtain Driver’s Licenses. ProCon. (2021, July 26).
    https://immigration.procon.org/states-and-dc-that-allow-drivers-licenses-for-people-in-the-country-illegally/

  2. Access to Driver’s Licenses for Immigrant Youth Granted DACA. National Immigration Law Center. (2020, July 22).
    https://www.nilc.org/issues/drivers-licenses/daca-and-drivers-licenses/

  3. Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. (2022).
    https://www.uscis.gov/DACA

  4. NY DEPARTMENT OF FINANCIAL SERVICES AND DIVISION OF HUMAN RIGHTS TAKE ACTION TO PROTECT NEW YORK DRIVERS FROM DISCRIMINATION IN AUTO INSURANCE BASED ON IMMIGRATION STATUS. Department of Financial Services. (2020, Jan 16).
    https://www.dfs.ny.gov/reports_and_publications/press_releases/pr202001161

  5. States Offering Driver’s Licenses to Immigrants. National Conference of State Legislatures. (2021, Aug 9).
    https://www.ncsl.org/research/immigration/states-offering-driver-s-licenses-to-immigrants.aspx