If you’re a non-U.S. citizen living in the United States, you probably knew some days would be tough, but you probably didn’t think about the energy you would expend getting car insurance.

It can be a long and confusing road, but don’t worry, we will steer you through this.

You have questions. We have answers.

How do I Get Car Insurance if I am a Non-U.S. Citizen?

Hopefully before you came to the United States, you were able to secure an international driving permit, or an IDP. That serves as proof that you can drive in the United States. That said, some states require you to not only have your IDP with you when you’re out and about, but also your home country’s license.

So if you have an IDP, and your home country’s license is valid, then the process may end up being very easy. You look for a car insurance carrier that you trust and like, and get some quotes, and then talk to the insurance agent at the carrier to make sure that you will be able to get a policy. Or before you look for quotes, you can call an insurance agent or broker and ask.

Still, even if you find an insurer who will cover you, you’ll want to shop around for quotes and see if you can do any better – so you can get the best rate and coverage.

That’s what Zhaneta Gechev recommends. Gechev is the founder of One Stop Life Insurance, which sells online life insurance. She is originally from Bulgaria and is based out of Las Vegas. She also has had first-hand experience looking for auto insurance while on an international driver’s license.

“The best thing you could do is simply reach out to a broker,” she says, adding: “You could ask friends and family who they have their insurance with.”

If it makes you feel any better, Zoriy Birenboym, CEO of eautolease.com, an auto leasing website, says that they have had a lot of customers with international driving permits – and he says that most insurance companies will insurance drivers with IDPs.

“They usually make you get a defensive driving course, and they also want you to be usually over 25 years old,” Birenboym says. “Then once they insure you, they give you usually six months to a year to get a normal state issued driver's license.”

What Should I do if I Want to be Insured to Drive, but I don’t have an International Driving Permit?

OK, now things get a little trickier and more frustrating. Sorry, and we wish we didn’t have to say that. But it’s true. Because you can only get an international driving permit out of the United States, which doesn’t issue them, you’ll almost certainly have to get a driver’s license in the state that you live in.

And that can be a hurdle, says Francis Jervis, a British expat who moved from London to California and then to New York and back to California again. He made the attempt to get his driver’s license in 2012, after finishing grad school, was unsuccessful and then didn’t try again until last year. (When he lived in New York City and its extensive public transit system for several years, he didn’t feel like he needed a car.)

Jervis, who now owns a company called Augrented, an apartment review website, says that some of the hurdles you might face in getting your license – depending on the state you live in – include having to go to driving school, which can get expensive. You also may want to go to driving school, if you don’t have much experience driving, as was the case for Jervis.

But what was really hard for Jervis was – he didn’t own a car and couldn’t buy one without car insurance. Meanwhile, because he didn’t own a car, he couldn’t practice driving in one for his test. To practice driving in a professional instructor’s car takes a lot of time and money.

“Turns out it’s about the same cost to get a pilot’s license,” quips Jervis.

He ended up using the car of a friend to practice in. His friend sat in the passenger seat while Jervis drove them around for many, many hours.

(Incidentally, Jervis had been worried that his friend’s car insurance might go up, with Jervis being behind the wheel, but his friend was told that there would be no change in the rates. Which will probably be the case for most people, though if you have a friend or family member letting you drive and practice in their car, he or she may want to contact their insurance agent to ask, just in case, but you’ll probably find that there’s no problem with you practicing behind the wheel – as long as the licensed and insured driver is with you and sitting in the front passenger seat.)

On the plus side, Jervis says that once he felt he was comfortable enough driving on American roads, the driving test was easy – far easier than what his international friends have told him driving tests are like in other countries.

A couple years ago, "The Daily Mail" wrote an article about some of the hardest driving tests in the world, and it backs up Jervis’s assertion that you may be nervous about taking an American driving test, but you probably shouldn’t be. In Denmark, for instance, you might be asked to drive on a slippery track and you have to take seven hours of first aid theory. In England, you may be asked to drive backwards around a corner. In Japan, you may be asked to reverse around an S-curve -- and need to take a hearing and physical fitness to drive.

Once I do have My U.S. Driver’s License, is it easy to find Car Insurance for a Non-U.S. Citizen?

Yes and no. You will probably find an insurance carrier to insure you, but not every carrier be clamoring to sign you up, unfortunately.

“When we arrived in the states in 2005, we did not have US driver's license and had to search for companies to offer us auto insurance,” Gechev says.

The irony? During this time, Gechev started working for State Farm – and couldn’t get car insurance from them.

“At that time, you were considered an inexperienced driver if you hadn't had your US license for more than three years. So even with the U.S. license, I had to seek other carriers,” Gechev says.

And that’s why it can be hard to find car insurance for foreign drivers. If you haven’t been driving for a long time in America, or at all, other than perhaps taking a driving test in a friend’s car, an insurance company doesn’t know whether you’re a potentially safe driver or one who will take a lot of risks. You have no substantial driving history in the United States, and so it’s hard for an insurance company to come up with a price for your monthly premiums.

What’s the Difference Between Car Insurance for Short-Term and Long-Term Foreign Visitors?

If you’re here for the short-term, and you’re renting a car, as long as you have an IDP, you probably can easily get car insurance from the rental company. But you may want to follow Nicco Schaal’s advice and rent ahead, from the country you live in.

Schaal is a business owner who lives in Obertshausen, Germany and owns Domain-inventory.com, selling English, German and French website addresses.

“I often travel to the United States and usually rent a car at the airport with one of the principal agencies. Everything always runs very smoothly,” Schaal says. “The reason and the secret are to book the car in Germany with the German Automobile Club (ADAC). Rentals always include total coverage, and the agents in the United States, at the pick-up point know that.”

He adds: “Certain credit card companies, like American Express, also add insurance when a reservation is made with their card.”

But there are plenty of drivers who aren’t vacationing or coming for short business meetings – especially in the age of the coronavirus – but may be here for college or visa workers. And they may need to buy and insure a car.

People in those situations, Gechev says, “might be able to obtain a driver's license that matches the expiration of their visa or simply look for carriers that are lenient on international driver's licenses. Regardless, of cost, it is necessary to find a carrier. You could buy a policy and pay for it on a monthly basis until you sell the vehicle.”

On the other hand, if you’re staying for a long time, and your foreign driver’s license is set to expire, and you can’t drive a rental around indefinitely, you’re back to probably back to needing to get an American driver’s license for the state you’re in – and then getting car insurance.

Generally, all roads lead to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Gechev says, “We would advise international drivers to try to get a US license as soon as they can. I understand that sometimes that may not be obtainable due to immigration status, inability to speak English or pass the written test. However, there are states that are a bit more lenient when it comes to the issuance of a driver's licenses and that might be an option.”

What Factors are Car Insurance Carriers Looking for when Deciding to Insure or Not Insure a Foreign Driver?

Good question. There are a number of things that could make it harder or easier to get car insurance if you are non-U.S. citizen and hoping to drive in the USA with a foreign license – or even if you’re a non-U.S. citizen and you have a state driver’s license.

Your age. As Birenboym mentioned earlier, insurers tend to look more favorably on non-U.S. citizens who are 25 years of age or older (actually, that’s the case for American drivers as well). Even if you have an IDP, or a state driver’s license, if you’re younger than 25, you may have trouble getting insured – and you’ll likely pay higher monthly premiums than older immigrants. If you are under 18 and a non-U.S. citizen, your odds of being insured are going to be extremely low.

Your driving history. If you’ve had any accidents or speeding tickets, that might hurt your chances of being insured, although more likely, you’ll be insured – but your rate will be higher.

Your credit history. Insurers can look at your credit history to determine your eligibility for insurance and your rates, except for the state of California, Hawaii and Massachusetts, where that’s against the law.

So if I am a U.S. non-citizen and I want a driver’s license, and I’m having trouble getting one, what should I do?

Don’t panic. Don’t stress. It may be an anxious situation since many people need cars to get to work in America, but there are insurance companies that are going to work with you – and some of them will be more likely to insure you if they know that you’re moving to the area and establishing your residence in the state.

But one way or another, if you’re a non-U.S. citizen who wants to get car insurance, you’re going to get from Point A to Point B. It may take a few phone calls and comparing one insurer to another, but you’re going to find a good insurer. And compared to everything you’ve likely already done to move from one country to another, you may even find getting car insurance as a foreign driver a breeze and wonder what all the fuss is about.