Does U.S. Car Insurance Cover You in Canada?

man and woman sitting in the back of a pickup truck with a dog among the woods

Driving into our neighbor to the north can be a treat. On your journey to Canada, you might come across majestic mountains, clear blue lakes or towering spruce trees.

Your U.S. car insurance typically does cover you in Canada, but you may want to think about buying extra coverage in case your journey along the Trans-Canada Highway takes a turn for the worse. Here's how to make sure you've got the proper car insurance coverage before you begin your travels.

Does My U.S. Car Insurance Policy Cover Canada?

Agreements between the U.S. and Canadian governments mean that whether you're behind the wheel of your vehicle or a rental car, most policies from major U.S. car insurance companies offer the same coverage you enjoy back home.

In addition to a valid passport or other government-approved travel document, you'll need to carry a valid U.S. driver's license, vehicle registration and proof of car insurance in order to drive legally in Canada.

Canada asks for this proof of insurance in the form of a Canada Non-Resident Inter-Province Motor Vehicle Liability Insurance Card, which you typically must obtain from your insurer in the U.S. If you don't have this card (known as a Yellow Card), you could be fined or have your vehicle impounded.

It's also recommended that you pack a copy of your U.S. auto insurance policy for your trip to Canada as well as your U.S. auto insurance ID card. The policy or ID card might be an acceptable alternative to the Yellow Card.

While your U.S. coverage may be sufficient for driving in Canada, the U.S. State Department cautions that it might fall short. The State Department says you usually can buy additional coverage in the U.S. or Canada. To make sure you're adhering to Canadian laws, make sure your auto insurance policy complies with their requirements.

You also might consider purchasing general travel insurance, which may cover costs associated with trip-related mishaps. Some car insurance policies do include travel coverage, though.

Canada's setup differs from the car insurance rules for driving in Mexico. Coverage from most U.S. car insurance policies does not extend to our neighbor to the south. Therefore, you'll probably need to purchase temporary car insurance tailored to driving in Mexico.

Coverage for Rental Cars in Canada

Typically, your U.S. coverage will apply to a rental car driven in Canada, regardless of whether you picked it up in the U.S. or Canada. In fact, a rental car agency in the U.S. might even be able to provide the Yellow Card insurance ID Canadian authorities require. If you rent the car in Canada, you may be able to purchase coverage to supplement your U.S. policy; this extra protection might pay to fix vehicle damage or pay for injury-related medical expenses, for instance.

You might also be covered if you rent a car with a credit card that offers rental insurance.

Will My U.S. Car Insurance Always Work in Canada?

If you're a U.S. tourist in Canada, your U.S. auto insurance should remain in effect during your stay. However, if you're a U.S citizen and stay in Canada longer than six months without securing a visitor's visa, your U.S. policy will no longer be valid.

If you're permanently moving to Canada from the U.S., you won't be able to keep using your U.S. car insurance. Instead, you'll need to buy coverage from a Canadian insurer. Canada requires all motorists to carry car insurance. Generally, that coverage costs more than U.S. car insurance.