How To Get Car Insurance as an Undocumented Immigrant

How To Get Car Insurance as an Undocumented Immigrant

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Undocumented immigrants make up 5% of the workforce in the U.S., but many are forced to drive without car insurance — which is a risky move. If you're in an accident while uninsured, you could be on the hook for any car repairs and medical expenses that result. Undocumented immigrants may also face the prospect of deportation, making the situation even more precarious.

But to make a living, many immigrants take on the risk of driving uninsured. Fortunately, it's possible for undocumented immigrants to get car insurance.

The first step is getting a driver's license

The first step toward getting car insurance as an undocumented immigrant is applying for a valid driver's license. As of September 2020, the majority of states still make this virtually impossible. But 15 states and Washington, D.C., allow unauthorized immigrants to get driver's licenses. Once you have a license, it's easier to buy a car insurance policy.

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 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Generally, the program was open to immigrants who:

  • Arrived in the U.S. before their 16th birthday
  • Were born after June 15, 1981
  • Lived in the U.S. consistently
  • Completed at least a GED
  • Don't have a criminal record

If you fall within that description, then no matter your state, 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 $15,000 for bodily injury liability coverage per person; $30,000 for bodily injury liability coverage per accident; and $5,000 for property damage. Most states won't go below $10,000 for bodily injury, nor will they exceed $50,000.

A policy consisting of just liability coverage is by far the cheapest option, usually 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, getting 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 the Low Cost Auto Insurance Program for drivers with incomes under $29,425 for one person or $60,625 for a household of four. Costs are usually no more than $400 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, and you can possibly be charged with a crime. As an undocumented immigrant, you can possibly face deportation if you are caught. The best thing to do is to find a means of transport that doesn't require a car until you can secure car insurance.

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