Car Insurance for Diplomats (Complete Coverage Guide)

Diplomats are required to have drivers' licenses and carry insurance with limits of at least 100/300/100. You will need to meet all Office of Foreign Missions requirements and register your car with the Diplomatic Motor Vehicle Office. Learn more about car insurance for diplomats here.

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A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Sep 23, 2020

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Things to remember...

  • Since 1978, the Foreign Mission Act has required diplomats (or any individual who is in the United States as a part of a Foreign Mission) who are planning to own or drive a car to maintain car insurance coverage.
  • Proof of this insurance coverage must be kept with the individuals when they are behind the wheel. Also, they must report to the OFM on a biannual basis.
  • Diplomats may also consider acquiring the international driver’s permit before leaving for the U.S. to more easily obtain insurance coverage in the country.

Every driver on a U.S. road has to carry insurance by the car insurance by state. This also applies to diplomats visiting the U.S. They are required to carry car insurance for diplomats.

Diplomats insurance is no exception to car insurance laws (regardless of diplomatic immunity). So what does insurance look like if you’re a diplomat on a mission to the United States?

How much can you expect to pay for diplomatic coverage? Where and how can you purchase diplomatic car insurance?

Not to worry, we’ve got you covered. We’ll answer those and other questions regarding car insurance for diplomats in the next several sections.

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Table of Contents

Diplomatic Car Insurance Requirements

Car insurance requirements are typically reasonably straight-forward. Any driver on the road must meet specific requirements for coverage amounts (usually set by the state in which they reside). In a broad sense, this holds for diplomats in the United States on a foreign mission as well. However, some complexities require a bit more explanation.

We know this can be frustrating to figure out, so we’re doing the work for you. Keep reading to learn the details you need to obtain diplomatic insurance and legally drive in the United States.

What car insurance requirements must foreign diplomats meet?

According to the Office of Foreign Missions (OFM), the Foreign Missions Act requires all diplomats to carry liability car insurance coverage, which is the minimum requirement for car insurance. This is insurance only for diplomatic vehicles, meaning a car used by a diplomat, and not their family or friends who may fall under different rules.

However, rates for diplomat insurance may be higher than for the average driver. This is both because of a lack of established driving record (three-to-five years of driving history are usually necessary. Otherwise, the risks associated with your driving record are unknown), and because diplomats are required to carry more liability coverage than the average driver in the U.S.

This liability insurance coverage must be at least $300,000 for a combined single limit, which will cover a set amount of damages for both property and bodily injury. For split limits, which are usually separated by liability type and are applied on a per-person and per-occurrence basis, the minimum requirements shown in the below table.

Minimum Liability Coverage Requirements: Diplomats vs. D.C. Drivers
Coverage TypeDiplomatic RequirementsAverage Washington D.C. Driver Requirements
Bodily Injury per Person$100,000$25,000
Bodily Injury per Accident$300,000$50,000
Property Damage$100,000$10,000
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You’ll note that we also compared the split limits for diplomatic drivers to the minimum liability split limit requirements for the average driver in Washington D.C. to highlight the differences in coverage requirements. As the data indicates, diplomatic drivers are required to carry significantly higher liability coverage than the average D.C. driver.

How do foreign diplomats obtain car insurance?

As a diplomat in the United States and member of a Foreign Mission, there are some steps you’ll need to take, focusing primarily on coordinating with the OFM and satisfying certain conditions, including:

  • You are not a permanent resident of the country you are serving.
  • You are not a citizen of the country in which you are working.
  • You are at least 18 years old, but not older than 75 years old.
  • Your vehicle’s value does not exceed $125,000
  • Your vehicle is not a sports car, commercial truck, or high-performance vehicle.
  • You have at least two years’ experience in driving.
  • You own or lease the vehicle for which you are purchasing insurance coverage.
  • Your vehicle is no more than 20 years old.

Remember to apply for an international driver’s permit before leaving for the U.S. as it will ease your path to both acquiring car insurance and driving in the country.

When obtaining insurance coverage from a licensed insurer (and not all companies will offer diplomatic insurance because of the associated risks, so you’ll need to shop around), you should be prepared to provide the following information (as well as other information the insurer may request):

  • Name
  • License number, issue date, status, class of license, and any applicable restrictions
  • Classes of authorized vehicles
  • Any previous U.S. Licenses
  • Any moving violations
  • Any suspension or withdrawal of driving privileges

The purpose of providing this information is to enable the insurer to obtain a copy of your driver history record. You’ll also need a copy of the driving record to give to the Department of State.

Once your vehicle is insured, you’ll be required to submit valid proof of active insurance (referred to as an “insurance declaration page”) to the OFM on a biannual basis (essentially every six months). If you fail to do so, even with diplomatic immunity, you may still face a fine or traffic citation.

The OFM monitors all diplomatic drivers regularly and also mandates that they are notified of any changes, updates, or cancellations to any diplomatic car insurance policies.

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What is a diplomatic vehicle?

A diplomatic vehicle is a car used by a foreign official (usually an Embassy employee or an official U.S. representative with diplomatic status). Dealerships sell diplomatic vehicles with ties to vehicle sales to the government.

Continue through the other sub-section to learn more about diplomatic plates and where to buy and sell a diplomatic car.

How do I get diplomatic plates?

First, the diplomat must receive their driver’s license from the OFM. Diplomats can obtain their license from any of the 50 states, Washington D. C., or any U.S. territory. It will cost the diplomat $100.

Next, a diplomat must register their vehicle with the Department of State. The Department of State will need the following:

  • Form DSP-100 for Mission vehicles.
  • Form DSP-101 for personal vehicles.
  • Attachment of the original certificate of origin (for new vehicles).
  • Attachment of the title (for used vehicles).
  • A copy of the car insurance policy with the required minimum coverage limits.
  • For new vehicles, a copy of the odometer statement and a copy of the buyer’s order or receipt.
  • For used vehicles bought from a dealership, the original Dealer’s Reassignment of Title must be submitted.

The Department of State usually issues two sets of plates. That’s because some states insist that a license plate is on the front and back of the vehicle.

Buying a Car with Diplomatic Plates

Contrary to what some may believe, a diplomat is welcome to buy a vehicle from any lot they choose. Of course, the OFM will suggest a lot based on the salary of the diplomat. Anyone who buys a car with diplomatic plates will have to apply for registration according to the law of the stay where they live.

Selling a Diplomatic Car

You can sell your diplomatic vehicle whenever you choose. Be sure to turn in your license plates to the Department of State. Report any changes to the OFM as well, so they know you’re no longer the owner of the car. You don’t want to pay car insurance for a car you don’t drive.

How do I register my diplomatic car?

Before registration of a diplomatic motor vehicle, as a member of the Foreign Mission Community, you’ll be required to provide a valid certificate of insurance, policy declaration page, and a copy of the insurance company’s binder. This binder should be valid for 30 days from the application date. Some companies assist with providing auto insurance for diplomats and embassies, and your office should provide you with contacts.

The insurance certificate should contain (but is not limited to) the following information:

  • Liability limits and levels of coverage
  • Telephone number, name, and address of the agent who issued the certificate
  • Effective dates of coverage
  • Car description including make, model VIN, and year of manufacture
  • Endorsement containing the Department of State, OFM as a party of interest

We also recommend you thoroughly research the traffic rules and regulations existing before getting behind the wheel. You may also consider contacting the Department of Motor Vehicle in the state or country that you will be visiting. If you are driving a diplomatic vehicle in India, you will need to contact the state’s Department of Transportation.

The U.S. Diplomatic Motor Vehicle Office (or OFM DMV Insurance Office) is responsible for handling all of the vehicle needs of the diplomatic community. They can answer any questions regarding registering a vehicle as well as car insurance requirements.

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What happens if I don’t meet the necessary OFM requirements or fall out of compliance?

Failure to renew insurance coverage leads to the issuance of a diplomatic note. The note requires the Chief of Missions to submit updated insurance coverage information to the OFM within five days of issuing the note.

If the Mission does not comply with the rules, OFM will require them to return the diplomatic plates of the vehicles and a written report stating that the vehicle will not be in operation.

Non-compliance may result in the OFM refusing to accept the renewal of insurance coverage for other vehicles owned by the Mission. In this case, if members of the Foreign Mission Community choose to continue driving uninsured vehicles, they face the possibility of fines and citations, for which the Mission will likely be responsible.

Car Insurance and Diplomats: How It Can Change Your Price

Now that you know a little bit more about diplomacy as a career let’s take some time to dive into one of the primary foci of this article: car insurance and how being a diplomat can affect your insurance choices as well as how much you might pay.

Read through the next few sections to learn more about how your occupation can affect your insurance rates, the discounts you may qualify for, and more.

Why do insurers ask about your occupation?

One of the primary reasons insurers ask about your occupation points back to the same reason you may pay lower insurance rates if you have higher education: risk. Research has shown that individuals that are employed within certain job families file fewer claims (and have fewer claims filed against them), which means they are a lower risk to insure.

Two things can happen if you fall within one of these job families: your base rates may be adjusted lower because you present a lower perceived risk, and you may also qualify for certain occupation car insurance discounts.

Certain government job families, like the military, typically fall within this category of lower-risk occupations. However, for diplomats on a mission in the United States who are looking to obtain insurance in the United States, the cost of insurance may be higher than the average U.S. citizen.

This is because of the lack of an established driving record in the United States (particularly when newly arrived in the U.S.), as most insurers use driving history for car insurance rates.

We’ll spend a bit more time discussing this in a later section. Keep reading to learn more.

Telling your insurer when you change jobs

Now that you know that your chosen occupation can affect your insurance rates, it would follow that when you change jobs, you should let your insurer know, so they can adjust your rates accordingly.

Recall that lower-risk jobs can mean lower insurance rates, while higher-risk jobs can result in higher insurance rates. An example of this can be seen in this table, which highlights a few job families that are considered lower risk, and compares them to job families in the higher risk category.

Car Insurance Rates for High and Low Risk Jobs
High-Risk Occupations6-MonthLow-Risk Occupation6-Month
No High School (chef)$1,038.90Homemaker$407.50
High School (chef)$1,038.90Professor
w/ College Degree
Currently Unemployeed$992.00Military Officer
(Air Force O1)
Actor$992.00Retired Miltary
(Air Force O6)
Athlete$992.00Military E5
(Air Force)
Breeder/Groomer/Trainer$992.00Military E5
Clerk/Cashier$992.00Military E5
Machine Operator$992.00Military E5
Cleaning/Janitorial$992.00Military E5
(Coast Guard)
Repair/Maintenance$992.00No high School (Military E-5)$875.10
Nanny/Caretaker$992.00High School (Military E-5)$875.10
Driver$992.00Associates (Military E-5)$875.10
Security/Prison Worker$992.00Bachelors (Military E-5)$875.10
Chef/Baker$992.00Masters (Military E-5)$875.10
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As you can see, the difference in rates for high-risk jobs can be quite significant, with the highest at about 150 percent while the lowest difference is about 13 percent.

Based on this, it follows that informing your insurer when you change occupations is necessary. If you change jobs (specifically if you take a new job in a different job family/occupation), and you don’t inform your insurer, your coverage may be nullified because it was based on your previous occupation.

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How does your job affect your car insurance?

As we discussed earlier, the Foreign Mission and Diplomatic Relations Acts+ requires all members of the Foreign Mission Community to own and operate a motor vehicle to have liability insurance coverage.

The OFM requires the Foreign Mission to provide proof of an insurance policy upon request. Additionally, the OFM, under the authorization of the Secretary of State, may impose charges to any Foreign Missions who have employed an uninsured motorist.

Additionally, if an uninsured motorist causes an accident, the Secretary of the State, under the authorization of the Act, may impose a fee on the Foreign Mission of the uninsured driver.

Providers Who Offer the Best Rates to Diplomats

While we don’t have rates specific to members of foreign diplomatic missions, we do note that Geico offers government employees of a GS-6 or higher (which is similar to diplomatic ranks) an average annual rate of $1,812 per year.

However, keep in mind what we noted above, in that insurance companies base rates on several factors, including driving history. Without three-to-five years of driving history in the United States, your rates may be higher than average, because the risks associated with your driving record are unknown.

There are insurance providers who specialize in getting coverage for the diplomats and other non-residents. In some cases, they may consider using your driving record from your home country, which may result in lower rates, though this varies between companies. The diplomats must be registered with the United States Department of Foreign Missions to qualify for diplomatic personal auto insurance.

Does your annual mileage affect your rates?

When asking the question of whether or not annual mileage can affect insurance rates, we again turn to the question of risk.

The more time you spend on the road, the higher your chances of being involved in some kind of traffic incident. Thus, some insurance companies do actually reward you with either lower base rates, discounts, or both, if your annual mileage is below a certain threshold (which varies from company to company).

To better understand how different companies might adjust rates based on your annual mileage, we’ve compared the national rates averages for some of the largest companies in the country based on annual totals of 6,000 and 12,000 miles. Take a look at this table to see what we found.

Car Insurance Rates Based on Commute Length
Company10-Mile Commute
6,000 Annual Mileage
25-Mile Commute
12,000 Annual Mileage
USAA $2,482.69 $2,591.91
Geico $3,162.64 $3,267.37
State Farm $3,175.98 $3,344.01
American Family $3,401.30$3,484.88
Nationwide $3,437.33$3,462.67
Progressive $4,030.02 $4,041.01
Farmers $4,179.32 $4,209.22
Travelers $4,399.85$4,469.96
Allstate $4,841.71$4,934.20
Liberty Mutual $5,995.27 $6,151.63
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State Farm and USAA have the highest rate increases (by percentage) for longer commutes, while Progressive and Farmers have the lowest rate increases.

Which companies offer discounts for diplomats?

While there are no diplomat-specific insurance discounts that we’ve found, there may be some discounts you can qualify for. Discounts offset the higher insurance rates you may end up paying due to a lack of long-term driving history in the United States.

In this table, we’ve summarized the types of discounts that may be offered by your insurance company.

Types of Car Insurance Discounts Available
Vehicle DiscountsDriver/Customer DiscountsPersonal Discounts
Active Disabling DeviceClaim FreeEmergency Deployment
Adaptive Cruise ControlContinuous CoverageFamily Legacy
Adaptive HeadlightsDefensive DriverFamily Plan
Anti-lock BrakesDriver's EducationFederal Employee
Audible AlarmDriving Device/AppFurther Education
Automatic BrakingEarly SigningGood Student
Blind Spot WarningFull PaymentHomeowner
Daytime Running LightsGood CreditLife Insurance
Economy VehicleLoyaltyMarried
Electronic Stability ControlMultiple PoliciesMembership/Group
Farm/Ranch VehicleMultiple VehiclesMilitary
Forward Collision WarningNew Customer/New PlanNew Address
Garaging/StoringOccasional OperatorNew Graduate
Green/Hyrbid VehicleOnline ShopperNon-smoker/Non-drinker
Lane Departure WarningOn-Time PaymentsOccupation
Newer VehiclePaperless/Auto BillingRecent Retirees
Passive RestraintPaperless DocumentsStable Residence
Utility VehicleRoadside AssistanceStudent Away
Vehicle RecoverySafe DriverStudent or Alumni
VIN EtchingSeat Belt UseVolunteer
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As you can see, there are a variety of different discount options. However, we recommend you speak with your insurance agent to find out exactly what you may qualify for.

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Getting Car Insurance if You’re “Unemployed”

If for some reason you find yourself without employment, this will not affect your ability to purchase and maintain car insurance coverage from the perspective of whether or not insurance companies will sell you insurance.

However, it may mean you’ll lose your eligibility for certain discounts (for example, if you meet the requirements for an occupation-based group discount). Lack of employment can also affect other factors like your credit score and mileage.

While mileage may decrease (which, as you saw above, may result in a decrease in rates), your credit score might also decrease if you’re struggling financially. In that case, your rates might increase, depending on where you live.

Regardless, if your employment status changes, you’ll need to inform your insurance company. You may also take the opportunity to discuss how you can temporarily decrease your coverage to reduce your rates until you’re once again employed.

Pathway to Becoming a Diplomat

In general, a diplomat is someone appointed by their country to “negotiate and mediate relations with other governments” to ensure relations between countries remain friendly.

According to international law, there are four primary diplomatic ranks, which are defined below according to their Merriam-Webster definitions:

  • Ambassador – “a diplomatic agent of the highest rank accredited to a foreign government or sovereign as the resident representative of his or her government or sovereign or appointed for a special and often temporary diplomatic assignment.”
  • Envoy – “a minister plenipotentiary, accredited to a foreign government who ranks between an ambassador and a minister resident.”
  • Minister – “a diplomatic representative ranking below an ambassador accredited to the court or seat of government of a foreign state.”
  • Charge d’affairs – “a subordinate diplomat who substitutes for an absent ambassador or minister.”

This video provides a little more information on becoming a diplomat in the United States.

So how does one become a diplomat? The process varies from country-to-country, but we’ll take a few moments to look at the process for entering the diplomatic service in the United States as an example case. Read through the next few sections to learn more.

Education for Diplomats

Diplomats within the four above-noted ranks can come from a variety of educational and professional backgrounds. However, most often, diplomatic education includes a focus on international relations, political science, foreign policy, or another similar degree program.

It is interesting to note that a college degree is not technically required to be a diplomat. However, it can certainly increase the chances of being hired, as does being able to speak another language. A Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctorate in one of the topics listed above may improve an applicant’s chances of getting hired (and will certainly improve the pay scale).

In the U.S., the Department of State handles all diplomatic roles (both domestic and foreign). It typically looks for certain personality traits, soft skills, and abilities that are considered necessary for successful foreign service. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Composure
  • Cultural adaptability
  • Motivation
  • Initiative
  • Leadership
  • Integrity
  • Written and oral communication skills
  • Effective task prioritization

It is also common for aspiring diplomats to need an international internship or two to gain applicable experience on foreign soil.

The qualifications to become a diplomat, in addition to experience, interest in living in a foreign country, and specific skills, abilities, and personality traits,  applicants are required to pass a medical examination, extensive background checks, and take what is referred to as a Foreign Service Exam.

There are three parts to the Foreign Service Exam, which include an oral interview, a written test, and a negotiation exercise; applicants must pass all three to move toward being hired.

Before you take the exam, you can get a preview of what car insurance would cost through our FREE comparison tool! Just enter your ZIP code get a car insurance quote now!

How College Education can Affect Rates

Your job affects car insurance rates, and some of that is related to education. The more education one has, the lower insurance rates may be. This may seem unfair and is certainly controversial, but like most factors insurance companies consider, it all comes down to perceived risk.

In general, individuals with higher education are perceived to be a lower risk because further education is seen as a sign of responsibility, and if someone is responsible in one area of their life, it is assumed they will also be responsible behind the wheel.

These assumptions are typically based on data because insurance companies cannot use factors that are considered discriminatory to adjust insurance rates. Thus, studies have been conducted that indicate that by and large, different levels of education do affect losses insurers face.

Top Schools for Diplomats

So if someone is planning on entering the diplomatic foreign service, and wants to improve their chances of being hired by obtaining a degree (or degrees), which schools should they consider? Keep in mind. We are still looking at the United States as an example case.

For a degree in international relations, which is one of the more common diplomacy-focused degree programs, some of the top schools in the nation are good options. Take a moment to check out this video to learn more about international relations.

According to a recent study conducted by Foreign Policy magazine, for an undergraduate degree in International Relations, the top five schools in the United States are:

  • Harvard University
  • Princeton University
  • Stanford University
  • Georgetown University
  • Columbia University

For a master’s degree in International Relations focused on a career in policy (as opposed to academia), the top five educational institutions are:

  • Georgetown University
  • Harvard University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Princeton University
  • Columbia University

Search around for colleges and universities in the area where you’ll be living. Ivy League schools are prestigious, but you can get a practical degree from other colleges and universities.

Job Responsibilities for a Diplomat

We’ve already noted that the primary goal of diplomats is to negotiate with and maintain copacetic relations between the diplomat’s home country and their assigned station country. But what does this mean?

In the United States, anyone in the diplomatic corps that falls within the four internationally recognized categories is referred to as a Foreign Service Officer (FSO). Within the FSOs, there are different foci, meaning not all diplomats do the same thing.

There are five separate diplomatic career tracks, with different responsibilities attached to each. These five tracks are:

  • Consular officer – manages international adoptions, work with the appropriate authorities to ensure Americans are safely evacuated when necessary, and works to eradicate human trafficking.
  • Economic officer – negotiates and facilitates trade, environmental, scientific, technological, and energy policies both in the U.S and throughout the world.
  • Management officer – manages day-to-day operations of U.S. Embassies.
  • Political officer – monitors and studies on-going politics and political events in the host country and communicates and negotiates with the host country government when appropriate.
  • Public diplomacy officer – works to garner support for U.S. policies by engaging with influential groups in politics, academia, and other non-government groups.

Diplomatic Car Insurance: The Bottom Line

We know shopping for car insurance can be difficult and confusing, but we’re here to help. As we noted in some of the earlier sections, we also recommend always comparing rates and speaking to insurance agents to find the best coverage and the best price for your needs.

Before you go, take a moment to use your ZIP code and get a free quote on car insurance for diplomats.

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Car Insurance for Diplomats FAQs

We know you may still have questions, so take a few minutes to read through these frequently asked questions.

#1 – Do diplomats need a driver’s license?

Yes. Everyone needs a license to drive in the United States. The Department of State will issue a special diplomatic driver’s license.

#2 – How do I know I’m in compliance with OFM requirements?

The OFM has put some checks in place to ensure diplomats can maintain compliance with the law, including:

  • Sending notices between 30-45 days before your car insurance policy expires, which provides enough time for you to renew, so there is no break in service.
  • Sending monthly reminders once your coverage expires. Reminders should be on the first or the 15th of the month.
  • Sending letters to the Deputy Chief of Missions twice each month reminding them of upcoming insurance coverage renewals (this includes a reminder of the actual expiration date)

#3 – What does a diplomat license plate mean? Who gets diplomatic plates?

A diplomatic license plate allows special privileges to the driver in terms of some law, including where the car can be parked. It alerts police and other authorities that the vehicle is diplomatic. Only a car registered specifically as a diplomat vehicle can have this kind of plate.

#4 – What kind of car insurance coverage can I purchase?

In addition to the minimum liability requirement, diplomats should also consider purchasing comprehensive car insurance and collision car insurance. Beyond comprehensive and collision coverage, there are also numerous other kinds of coverage offered by insurers that you may have the option of purchasing, depending on your insurer.

#5 – What do diplomatic cars only mean?

Diplomatic cars are given some leeway in terms of the law, and the diplomats driving them may be exempt from prosecution for certain offenses. It’s important to note, though, that while diplomatic cars can go where others aren’t allowed, there are still a lot of rules diplomats must follow.

The video below explains more.

#6 – Where can I buy a diplomatic vehicle?

Diplomatic cars for sale take place in various locations across the country. Most diplomatic cars are high-end or luxury vehicles, such as a BMW, although you may also find a Dodge diplomat car or the other U.S. makes. They are generally used lightly and sold when no longer in use by the embassy. That can make them a great deal. You’ll have to look for a sale near you or try an online purchase if you want a diplomatic vehicle.

#7 – Are diplomats allowed to import more than one car?

In the United States, there is no set limit on the number of vehicles a foreign diplomat can import into the country. Diplomats are responsible for registering each imported vehicle with the Department of State, and each vehicle will need car insurance to be driven legally.

American diplomats in foreign countries will need to check with that country’s laws before traveling by more than one car. For example, only one diplomatic vehicle in Uganda is allowed unless the diplomat is traveling with their spouse; two vehicles are allowed in those instances.

#8 – Who has the lowest car insurance rates?

USAA, Geico, and State Farm have the most affordable car insurance rates in the United States.

#9 – What is the best insurance for auto?

USAA has been named as the car insurance company in the United States. Still, you can enroll in their policies if you’re in the U.S. Armed Forces or in the immediate family of someone who is in the military.

#10 – What are the worst insurance companies?

According to Consumer Reports, the top five worst companies are Mercury General Group, Progressive Inusrance Group, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, Nationwide Group, and Allstate

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