How To Get Car Insurance as an Undocumented Immigrant

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Undocumented immigrants make up 4.4% of the workforce in the U.S., but many cannot get a driver's license or car insurance coverage. This often results in driving without car insurance — a risky move.

Being caught driving without insurance can result in fines, imprisonment and more. Undocumented immigrants may also face deportation.

Fortunately, it's possible for undocumented immigrants in some states to get driver's licenses and car insurance. Additionally, those who qualify under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program can get coverage.

The first step is getting a driver's license

The first step toward getting car insurance as an undocumented immigrant is usually applying for a driver's license. While some car insurers may write a policy without one, a valid license is typically a requirement to get coverage.

As of October 2022, the majority of states still make getting a driver's license virtually impossible for undocumented immigrants. But 18 states and Washington, D.C., allow unauthorized immigrants to get driver's licenses.

What if you don't live in those states?

If your state doesn't allow you to get a driver's license as an undocumented immigrant, you might have luck if you're part of the DACA program. Generally, the program is open to immigrants who:

  • Arrived in the U.S. before their 16th birthday
  • Were born on or after June 16, 1981
  • Have lived in the U.S. consistently
  • Had no lawful immigration status on June 15, 2012, or at the time the DACA request was filed
  • Completed at least a GED or high school, are currently enrolled in school or are an honorably discharged veteran
  • Don't have a criminal record

If you fall within that description, then no matter what state you live in, you can obtain a license in order to get insurance.

How to shop for car insurance

Car insurance can be expensive — usually more than $1,000 a year for full coverage, and even more if you're younger than 30. But most importantly, you need enough coverage to satisfy the law. Each state has a minimum amount of insurance each driver needs to carry.

For example, New Jersey requires drivers to have $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person, $50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident and $25,000 of property damage liability per accident.

A policy consisting of just liability coverage is by far the cheapest option, often costing less than $50 per month with a clean driving record. Still, that doesn't mean you should settle for any insurer. You should shop around for the best car insurance in your area and get a quote from at least three companies. Policy premiums can differ by possibly hundreds of dollars, so it's important to be sure you're getting the best deal.

What to do if you can't afford insurance

If you can't afford any insurance plan, most states offer programs geared toward low-income drivers. For example, California offers a low cost auto insurance program for drivers with an annual income under $33,975 for one person or $69,375 for a household of four. Costs are usually no more than $500 a year and provide basic protection. New Jersey has a similar program.

Should you risk driving uninsured if you cannot get a license?

You should never take the risk of driving uninsured, especially as an undocumented immigrant. If you are caught driving uninsured, it can cost you thousands of dollars in fines, and you can be charged with a crime.

If you are an undocumented immigrant and are charged with a crime, it may be reported to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and you may face deportation, so the best thing to do is to find alternate transportation until you can secure car insurance.

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