What you need to know when you drive your car across the border
Car Insurance

Planning a road trip with the family? Embracing the snowbird lifestyle? Before driving across the Canadian border, take some time to review your car insurance. Here’s what you need to know to make sure you’re covered across the border.


Heads up! Moving to the U.S. permanently? You’ll need to swap your Canadian car insurance for a U.S. policy in order to be covered.


Does your car insurance cover you across the border?

Most insurance policies will cover you when you drive across the border to the U.S. But, it’s always a good idea to review your policy before you leave. Sometimes you’re limited by how many days you’re covered abroad. There could even be restrictions to specific coverages. It’s also good to know the insurance requirements of the state that you’re crossing into. These things will help you find and plan for any gaps in your coverage.


Heads up! Planning on driving down to Mexico? Unfortunately, most Canadian insurance policies won’t cover you (including Sonnet). You’ll need to purchase separate insurance, either in the U.S. or in Mexico.


Do you need extra coverage?

If you often make trips across the border, there are a couple things we recommend:

  1. Increase your liability coverage limit. The U.S. is known for having much higher insurance payouts. So, if you’re responsible for an accident south of the border, you could find yourself paying a lot of money out of pocket. Increasing your liability limit will lower the amount you’ll have to cover.
  2. Add Family Protection coverage. Also known as “Endorsement 44”. In the U.S., coverage requirements are often much lower than in Canada. If you’re injured in an accident the other person may not have enough liability coverage to fully compensate you. This extra coverage would match the limit of your own policy to cover your injuries.

Heads up! Car insurance is not travel or medical insurance. Be sure you arrange these coverages separately before you travel.


How do you file a claim when you’re across the border?

The good news is that filing a claim in the U.S. is the same as in Canada. But there are still some differences to keep in mind that could impact your claim:

  • Unique state regulations
  • Limitations to your policy while abroad
  • Coverage of the other parties involved

No matter what, your claims professional will be there to help explain everything to you.

What about rental car insurance?

Planning to take a rental car across the border or grab one once you’re there? Be sure to check that your policy will cover you. If it does, make sure that all of your coverages will apply.


Heads up! If you’re planning to rent a higher value vehicle (or any vehicle worth more than your own) make sure the limit on your auto policy will be enough to properly cover you. Often, policies will only cover rental vehicles that are similar to the one listed on your policy or have a max limit on the vehicle value that will be covered.


If your policy doesn’t currently cover rental vehicles, you have a few options:

  • Update your policy to cover rental vehicles. This will cover you, and anyone else on your policy, any time you rent a vehicle – at home or abroad for damage and liability. Plus, if you have other coverage like accident benefits, you’ll be covered for personal injury.
  • Purchase coverage through the rental company. This is a good idea if the value of your rental vehicle exceeds the limits of your own policy. You can often purchase both damage and liability coverage options if you’re not already covered by your own policy.
  • Get coverage using your credit card. Most credit cards offer coverage for theft or damage to the rental car, up to a limit. But, they won’t provide liability coverage. To get this coverage, you need to use the card to reserve and pay for the rental vehicle.
Tip: Add extra liability coverage for your rental with the Rental Vehicle Endorsement. Also known as “Liability for Damage to Non-Owned Automobiles”

Reviewing your policy is the first step to making sure you’re prepared to drive across the border. It’s also a good idea to brush up on some safe driving tips and local rules of the road. Plus, pack a roadside emergency kit to make sure you’re prepared for anything.


Make sure you’re covered no matter where you drive. Get a car insurance quote with Sonnet online.