Does My Car Insurance Cover Me in Any State in Which I Drive?

••• Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Claims adjusters like to say, "Car insurance follows the vehicle, not the owner." If you're planning a road trip, you don't have to worry about coverage as long as you have a valid auto policy. Filing a claim out of town is the same as filing one in town. But insurance laws differ by state, so there are a few things you should take into consideration.

Coverage Minimums

Vehicle owners -- in all states -- must have at least the minimum amount of liability insurance required by their state. Your state probably has a different coverage minimum than a bordering state. Because of this, your current coverage minimums will automatically be adjusted upward -- never downward -- if they are lower than what is required by law in the state you're driving in. For instance, say your policy covers $5,000 for property damage and $5,000 for bodily injury. If you drive in a state that requires $10,000 coverage for property damage and $10,000 coverage for bodily injury, your auto policy will automatically adjust to meet that. Your minimums will return to $5,000 as soon as you return to your home state.

Specific Adjuster

When you call to report a claim, you might not be able to speak with your preferred claims adjuster, because each state has separate insurance laws. Either your insurance company will have a department that handles all out-of-state claims, or your call will be forwarded to an adjuster who operates in the state where the claim is reported.

Vehicle Repairs

Getting your vehicle repaired out of state is similar to getting it repaired in state. Your adjuster will use your exact location -- usually cross streets -- to find the nearest repair facility and make the arrangements. If your vehicle isn't drivable, your claims adjuster will have contact information for a tow company that will pick up you and your vehicle. The chosen repair facility and tow company typically are determined by contracts that your insurance company has in that state.

Loss of Use

If you have rental coverage and your vehicle isn't safe to drive, your claims adjuster will also make arrangements to get you into a rental vehicle. Depending on the state you're in, your insurance company might or might not have contracts with car rental companies there. If you have to pay upfront for your rental vehicle, your claims adjuster will have you submit those receipts for reimbursement once you return home.