Auto Insurance for Diplomats
The Foreign Mission Act requires diplomatic car insurance certificates for drivers who are planning to own or drive a car in the United States.
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UPDATED: May 26, 2022
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- Under legislation from 1978, any individual that is part of the Foreign Mission Community must carry liability insurance coverage if they are operating a vehicle in the United States
- While diplomatic officials are often believed to carry immunity against crimes, they are still bound to the same insurance requirements as other drivers
- These diplomatic individuals are responsible for providing proof of their coverage to the Office of Foreign Missions
- The Office of Foreign Missions, or OFM, has several responsibilities; this includes regulating the activities of any diplomatic individual acting in the United States
- If you are a diplomat needing car insurance, there are a few things to keep in mind about your options and your responsibilities
Diplomatic auto insurance is trickier to navigate than regular auto insurance, but it is an essential requirement in the U.S. If diplomats don’t have the proper coverage, they are at risk of being liable to a host of legal issues.
Luckily, we are here to help guide through diplomatic insurance. So if you are looking for more information on diplomatic auto insurance, you’ve come to the right place.
We will cover requirements for diplomatic auto insurance, how to find good rates, driver’s license requirements, and more. If you would like to jump right into comparing car insurance quotes today to find the coverage you need for the best price, enter your ZIP code in our free tool above.
Required Auto Insurance Coverage for Diplomats
Any diplomat operating a motor vehicle in the United States is bound by the same insurance requirements that any other motorist is required to follow.
However, diplomats must carry specific limits of coverage, as well as follow guidelines on how to list the Diplomatic Motor Vehicle Office as an additional interest in the policy.
The Diplomatic Motor Vehicle Office “ensures that foreign missions and their eligible members carry and maintain the federally mandated high levels of liability insurance coverage. In order to carry out this vitally important mandate, DMV regulates the acquisition, registration, and disposition of all motor vehicles belonging to foreign missions and their members.”
Diplomatic individuals are also required to notify the OFM of the following:
- any updates
- cancellations as soon as they occur
There are clearly defined limits of coverage that any diplomat operating a motor vehicle in the United States must carry. There are also required high limits of coverage to protect against physical injuries or property damages you may cause.
During the purchase process, it’s important to inform the insurance provider about the minimum limits that are acceptable for a diplomat to carry.
The OFM provides clearly outlined information regarding the minimum acceptable limits for any diplomat’s car insurance. There are two acceptable options for minimum limits of coverage, which means a combined single limit or a set of split limits may be chosen.
Any policy must have a minimum of $300,000 combined single limit. This combined limit means that there is a defined dollar amount that will apply to any claim. It is a combination of both property damage and bodily injury losses.
Split limits, in comparison to a combined single limit, are a group of limits that apply to a per-person, per-occurrence, and a per-occurrence property damage instance.
These limits are often written as a series of three numbers, such as 100/300/100. This amount is the minimum level of coverage that a diplomat must purchase, which means they would carry $100,000 coverage for bodily injuries per person, $300,000 coverage for bodily injuries per incident, and $100,000 coverage for property damage per incident.
The table below shows diplomat’s required liability amounts compared to a normal driver’s required liability amounts in the District of Columbia.
|Required Liability Amounts||Diplomats||Regular Drivers in the District of Columbia|
|For all people injured in an accident||$300,000||$50,000|
|For one person injured in an accident||$100,000||$25,000|
|For property damage||$100,000||$10,000|
As you can see, the amounts diplomats need to carry are significantly higher than the amounts for an average driver.
How are drivers eligible for diplomatic auto insurance?
Only diplomats can have diplomatic car insurance. According to the Office of Protocol (OAS), a person can only become a diplomat if they pass through the government’s selection process.
“This consists of a written Foreign Service Officer Test, a written personal narrative, an oral interview combined with role-playing exercises, and a medical and security clearance review. The application then goes to a Suitability Review Panel for one last look before an applicant’s name is placed on the Registrar of selected candidates eligible to be offered a position in the U.S. Foreign Service.”
So if a person is officially registered with the U.S. Foreign Service as a diplomat, they can apply for diplomatic car insurance.
Where do I buy diplomatic auto insurance?
Not all insurers offer diplomatic car insurance. However, you can apply for diplomatic car insurance at almost any provider. You just have to inform them that you are buying diplomatic car insurance.
Why? The insurer will raise the liability limits on your car insurance policy.
Remember, you need to meet the OFM’s requirements for minimum liability coverage, which is much higher than liability coverage for a regular driver. This is because diplomats are sometimes subject to targeted attacks, so insurers take on extra risk when insuring diplomats.
The video below shows a recent incident when U.S. diplomats were targeted in Cuba and China.
Another reason diplomats have higher liability amounts is because they don’t have a driving record if they are new to a country. Most companies need to see that drivers can consistently have at least a few years of safe driving without accidents or tickets before they can lower rates and give discounts.
The OFM will also monitor your insurance and make sure it is covering both you and your vehicle properly.
According to the U.S. Department of State, the “FM must be notified every time there is a change, update, renewal or cancellation to the liability insurance policy. OFM conducts reviews and audits the Foreign Mission Community to ensure compliance.”
The OFM will be listed as an additional insured or party of interest on your insurance policy, as the OFM is the one keeping track of diplomatic insurance.
While you have to have the minimum liability amount required by the OFM, this doesn’t mean you need to go with the first insurer that offers diplomatic insurance.
Shop around to find rates that best fit your budget. You can use our free quote box below to start the process of finding an economical insurer.
Additional Considerations for a Diplomat’s Auto Insurance Policy
Car insurance for diplomatic individuals comes with a host of requirements that must be followed to maintain their privileges within the United States.
It’s important to remember that anyone required to carry one of these policies must submit proof of coverage every six months to the Diplomatic Motor Vehicle Office. According to the U.S. Department of State DMV, failure to do so may result in a loss of privileges or fines and fees.
Anyone operating a motor vehicle in the United States is doing so as a privilege, not a right. This privilege may be revoked.
The OFM has a complete program in place to help manage and follow up on moving violations and parking tickets that may occur. It includes payable violations and “must appear” violations.
This office also handles situations where an individual drives under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Additionally, there are regional offices that work with each Foreign Mission to make sure that the proper requirements are being followed.
If a driver’s diplomat insurance is about to end, the OFM will send out reminders to renew the auto insurance policy.
If there are concerns or questions about your coverage, such as before renting a non-owned vehicle, you can contact your regional office to find out more about how your coverage will apply.
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Do you know what a diplomatic career path looks like? In this section, we will cover education for diplomats, top schools, and job responsibilities. This will also help you understand how a college education can affect rates for auto insurance.
So keep reading to learn everything you need to know about a diplomatic career.
Education for Diplomats
If you want to be a diplomat, it is best to get a degree in a field that is closely related to a diplomatic’s career path. Examples of degree fields that would work for those who want to become a diplomat are:
- Cultural Anthropology
- Foreign Policy
- International Relations
- Political Science
At least a bachelor’s in one of these fields is required for a diplomat job, but you have a better chance of getting the job if you have a master’s or Ph.D.
Watch the video below to learn about what international relations (the most common field) teach.
If you want to learn more about diplomatic college courses, visit Study.com for some examples of what you’ll be learning.
How College Education Can Affect Rates
So how does getting an education affect your car insurance rates? Well, insurers sometimes use personal factors outside of driving records to determine rates, such as age, gender, occupation, and education.
Often, insurers will offer alumni association discounts, as well as good student discounts, higher education discounts, and distant student discounts.
So if you have a higher education, insurers may charge you less than if you only have a high school education. This is also partially because higher education is linked to age, as high school drivers have less driving experience than college drivers.
Bottom line? The older you become, and the more education you complete, the more you will save on car insurance.
Top Schools for Diplomats
If you aren’t sure where to get a degree from, don’t fear.
Let’s start with Foreign Policy Magazine’s (FP) list of the 50 best schools for undergraduate degrees in International Relations. FP did a 2018 survey that recorded “responses from 1,541 IR scholars at U.S. colleges and universities…The scholars were asked to list the top five institutions in each category, and the percentages below reflect the portion of respondents who listed that school.”
|College with Undergraduate International Relations Program||Percentage of Respondents who Listed School|
|University of Chicago||20.96%|
|George Washington University||17.40%|
|University of California – Berkeley||11.64%|
|University of California – San Diego||9.68%|
|University of Michigan||8.58%|
|John Hopkins University||7.23%|
|College of William & Mary||6.86%|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||6.37%|
|University of Pennsylvania||4.53%|
|Ohio State University||4.53%|
|University of Virginia||3.19%|
|University of California – Los Angeles||3.06%|
|New York University||2.82%|
|University of Denver||2.33%|
|University of Southern California||2.21%|
|University of Notre Dame||1.96%|
|University of Texas – Austin||1.59%|
|University of Wisconsin||1.59%|
|University of Washington||1.47%|
|University of Minnesota||1.35%|
|Brigham Young University||0.98%|
|Michigan State University||0.98%|
|University of Florida||0.98%|
|Claremont McKenna College||0.86%|
|London School of Economics||0.86%|
|University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill||0.86%|
Top Ivy League schools like Harvard and Princeton make the top of the list. Lesser-known schools are also on the list, but fewer survey respondents listed these as the top schools for international relations degrees.
Once you have your undergraduate degree, it may be time to advance to a master’s or graduate program.
According to U.S. News, the top 15 graduate schools for international politics are:
- Princeton University
- Stanford University
- Harvard University
- University of California – San Diego
- Columbia University
- University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
- New York University
- Ohio State University
- University of California – Berkeley
- University of Wisconsin – Madison
- Massachusetts Insititute of Technology
- University of Chicago
- Yale University
- Duke University
- University of Rochester
As you can see, there is quite a bit of overlap between the two lists. A number of the universities that have the top undergraduate programs also have the top graduate programs.
Job Responsibilities for Diplomats
According to Job Hero, there are five areas that diplomats typically handle in their day to day job responsibilities:
- Conduct Consular Activities – This can include foreign adoptions, passports, visas, fraud prevention, and human trafficking.
- Collaborate on Economic Responsibilities – This can include working on trade relations, developing economic policies, and more.
- Manage Embassy Operations – This can include managing budgets, overseeing other workers, and more.
- Negotiate with Foreign Government Officials – This includes monitoring local politics to help negotiations.
- Engage and Influence Nongovernmental Groups This includes working with the public to improve country relations.
Depending on what diplomatic field you go into, you could be handling more than one of these job responsibilities. Watch the TED Talk below to learn more about what diplomats do.
As you can see, the job requires the ability to navigate cultural differences and politics. So what reward will you receive for your work? According to our averages of data from the United States Department of State, diplomats earn the following salaries:
|Class||Average Salary||Percentage of Income Going to Car Insurance|
The table shows that the higher level diplomat you are, the more you will earn. It is easier to become a high-level diplomat if you get a master’s or Ph.D., as the field can be competitive.
You may have also noticed that we’ve included how much percentage of income goes toward car insurance. We’ve calculated this from looking at Geico’s average rate for Government GS1-GS6 ($1,812).
Car Insurance & Diplomats – How It Can Change Your Price
Your occupation can change your car insurance price, even if you aren’t aware of it. In this section, we are going to go over why insurers care about your occupation and how your job affects your car insurance.
So if you want to learn more about how being a diplomat impacts your car insurance, keep reading.
Why do insurers ask about your occupation?
You are probably wondering why insurers even care about what you do for a living. It comes down to risk. A superstar who drives a flashy sports car will be riskier to the insurer than an accountant who drives a sturdy sedan.
But the risk is made up of more than just what type of car you can pay for with your salary.
The stress of your job can also be a factor. Drivers with certain jobs can be more prone to crashing. For example, people who work long, stressful days, such as doctors, are more likely to get into a crash. Being tired delays reaction times.
There are also job factors like how much you have to drive for work, how often you are on your cellphone, and more.
So don’t be surprised when your insurer asks what your occupation is. They are using it to determine the risk of insuring you, as their data shows, certain job fields are more likely to file claims.
Telling Your Insurer When You Change Jobs
If you get a new job, especially if it’s in a new career path, you need to tell your insurer. A new job can change your risk rating, so not telling your insurer could count as fraud (similar to lying about accidents or your address) and result in your insurer dropping you.
To avoid being dropped by your insurer, you need to make sure you tell them in a timely manner about any new job changes. You may even find that your rates go down after you get a new job.
How does your job affect your car insurance?
We’ve gone over a few factors that contribute to why insurers charge more for certain jobs, such as stress and the likelihood of crashing.
One factor we haven’t discussed in detail is why education level is a factor. The Insurance Journal found that most companies charge workers with less education more than those with education beyond high school.
This has been a source of contention in places like New York, as many feel this isn’t fair. However, insurers argue that occupations are associated with risk, so basing rates on an occupation isn’t discriminatory.
Many groups are working to combat insurers’ rates based on occupation, such as the Consumer Federation of America (CFA).
The CFA found that auto insurers charge blue-collar workers and high school graduates more than other drivers. Among the insurers who showed clear price changes between education levels are Geico, Progressive, Liberty Mutual, and Farmers.
The good news is that if you are a diplomat, you will have at least a bachelor’s degree, so your occupation shouldn’t impact your rates drastically.
Providers Who Offer the Best Rates for Your Profession
Now that you know about diplomatic insurance and why occupation impacts insurance, it’s time to start looking at how you can save money. Since diplomats have to buy higher liability amounts, it makes sense that diplomats will have higher than average insurance rates.
Because diplomatic car insurance can be so expensive, we want to go over the ways to save on diplomatic car insurance. Stick with us to learn how to lower your rates.
Does your annual mileage affect your rates?
As a diplomat, you will probably be doing a bit of traveling to and from work locations. In that case, it’s good to know that your annual mileage amounts will affect your rates. We partnered with Quadrant Data to bring you the following information on car insurance rates by commute.
|Company||10-Mile Commute. |
6,000 Annual Mileage.
12,000 Annual Mileage.
We arranged the companies from the least expensive rate to the most expensive rate. As you can see, USAA, Geico, and State Farm have the cheapest rates for a long commute.
Which companies offer discounts for diplomats?
Diplomat drivers are eligible for all the same discounts as regular drivers. This means that diplomats can lower their higher liability through vehicle discounts, safe driving discounts, young driver discounts, policyholder discounts, and personal status discounts. Take a look at the list below for examples of each category and how much is saved.
- Vehicle Discounts – discounts for safety features on your car
- Anti-Lock Brakes – 5.3 percent
- Anti-Theft – 14.1 percent
- Passive Restraint – 18.1 percent
- Safe Driver Discounts – discounts for good driving
- Claim Free – 19.1 percent
- Defensive Driver – 7.3 percent
- Driving Device/App – 26.2 percent
- Young Driver Discounts – discounts for teenagers and college students
- Driver’s Ed – 8 percent
- Distant Student – 12.5 percent
- Good Student – 12.7 percent
- Policy Holder Discounts – policy usage discounts for insurance customers
- Early Signing – 10.3 percent
- Multiple Policies – 14.4 percent
- Multiple Vehicles – 13.6 percent
- Personal Status Discounts – discounts for personal status, such as homeownership
- Homeowner – 6.2 percent
- Membership/Group – 11.8 percent
- Senior Driver – 7.5 percent
Two of the personal status discounts also include occupation and federal employee discounts. So diplomats can earn a special discount for their occupation.
Companies that offer occupation and federal employee discounts are:
- Allstate (occupation)
- Country Financial (occupation)
- Esurance (occupation)
- Farmers (occupation and federal employee)
- Geico (occupation and federal employee)
- Liberty Mutual (occupation and federal employee)
- MetLife (occupation and federal employee)
- Nationwide (occupation)
- Safeco (occupation)
- The Hanover (occupation)
- The Hartford (occupation)
- Travelers (occupation)
A number of insurers offer occupation discounts, but fewer offer federal employee discounts. Still, there are a number of insurers where you can get a discount for the work you do.
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Getting Car Insurance if You’re Unemployed
If you are unemployed, you can still get car insurance. Your insurer can’t drop you simply because you are unemployed unless you aren’t making car insurance payments. However, your car insurance rates may change.
If you are unemployed, you will be driving less. This means that insurers may lower your rates, as you are on the road less and at less risk of crashing.
Your rates may rise, though, if your credit score starts to plummet after you lose your job or you lose an occupation discount.
So while for the most part, your rates won’t change, if you see a dramatic spike in your rates it may be time to switch providers. Below are some steps you can take to lower car insurance costs (beyond getting discounts):
- Shop around – This is one of the best ways to save on car insurance, and also one of the easiest steps to take.
- Buy a safe car – The better your car performs in a crash safety test, the more money an insurer will take of your premium. Car safety features will also provide a discount.
- Cut back on additional coverages or liability limits – This is never an option we recommend, as cutting back on coverage leaves you vulnerable in case of an accident. However, getting rid of a nonessential coverage like roadside assistance can help bring costs down a little.
If you find your policy costs too much after you’ve become unemployed, talking to your insurer can be a huge help. Your insurer will be able to assess your policy and determine how to best lower costs without sacrificing coverage.
Being a diplomat does not eliminate the need for minimum levels of car insurance when operating a vehicle on the roads in the United States.
As a member of any Foreign Mission Community, there are specifications regarding the following:
- policy terms that are needed
- the limits of coverage to be carried
- how soon changes must be reported
- providing proof of coverage to the Office of Foreign Missions
If a diplomat is found to be lacking the proper coverage, they may face surcharges or fees if they cause an accident or injury.
Additionally, if the coverage is not in place, the Department of State may request to waive your immunity, which could leave you open to legal action as well as fines and the loss of any privilege to drive in the United States.
Diplomats & Car Insurance FAQs
There are a few other basics to cover before we leave the topic of diplomats and car insurance. You now know what coverages the law requires and where to get diplomat insurance, but there are a few other things to learn before you take to the road.
In this section, we will cover frequently asked questions about diplomats and car insurance.
Do diplomats need a driver’s license?
Yes, diplomats do need a driver’s license. According to the U.S. Department of State, diplomats need to apply for a Diplomatic Driver’s License through the DMV’s eGov system.
The application will need to include the following information (according to the U.S. Department of State DMV):
- Completed eGov Driver License Application
- Signature card
- “Color photocopy of applicable foreign, Department of State driver’s license or U.S State driver’s license.”
- “Completed Driver License Supplemental Form including the examiner’s signature, date of exam, and Motor Vehicle Administration stamp from the MVA in applicant’s state of residence or for vision exams only, certification from a U.S.-licensed physician.”
The processing time of a Diplomatic Driver’s License takes anywhere from one to five business days. Because of this, it is important to file out the application sooner rather than later. If the DMV is busy, the processing time will take longer.
Drivers with a valid foreign license will also need to take a vision test and possibly a written test. The fee to get a U.S. diplomat license is $100.
Do diplomats need a learner’s permit?
According the Organization of America (OAS), if a diplomat doesn’t have a driver’s license from their home country, they can apply for a learner’s permit in the host country. This often applies to diplomat’s children if they moved before earning a license in their home country.
Once again, this requires submitting a special diplomatic application to the DMV. Workers at the DMV will be able to direct you to the correct form and answer any of your questions about the process.
However, diplomats will have to wait until they are the proper driving age in their state before they can apply for a learner’s permit. Usually, this is at age 15 to 16, but a few states allow teenagers to apply for learner’s permits as young as 14 years old.
Below is a list of states that allow young drivers to have learners permits at age 14.
- Idaho (14 years and six months)
- Michigan (14 years and nine months)
- Montana (14 years and six months)
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has more information on state laws for learner’s permits and driver’s licenses, so you can check what ages your local state requires people to be for a permit application.
What rules are there for diplomatic vehicles?
You probably have a picture in your mind of important diplomats driving around with bullet-proof windows and dark tints, but there are no requirements regulating what type of car a diplomat must use.
As long as the car is legally registered with the state the diplomat is living in and has a diplomat license plate, you are good to go.
To register your diplomatic vehicle, the Organization of America (OAS) says you will need to bring the following information to your local DMV:
- Completed form for diplomatic vehicles
- Certificate of origin or car title
- Insurance policy
- Proof of reassignment of title or a car receipt for a new car
Before you can register your car, the most important thing to have is car insurance. The DMV won’t register vehicles without proof of insurance.
Another common question people ask about diplomatic cars is if immunity applies to the vehicle itself. Immunity is a tricky topic, but the short answer is yes — diplomatic immunity applies to the car itself.
According to NOLO, a legal source for drivers, this means that law enforcement can’t search or seize a home or vehicle. The exception to this law is if police need to act “to prevent a grave crime or an imminent danger to public safety.”
The law also allows law enforcement to issue citations or suspend driving licenses if diplomatic vehicles break driving laws. However, driving authorities can’t impound diplomatic vehicles.
What does it mean to have a diplomatic license plate?
A diplomatic license plate shows law enforcement that the vehicle is exempt from certain restrictions, such as being impounded or searched. These license plates are specially marked, usually with the word diplomat or CD written on the license plate.
CD simply stands for “corps diplomatique,” which tells law enforcement the car belongs to a diplomat.
These special plates are only given to diplomats and are issued by the federal government. You will have to apply to get these plates and will need a diplomat driver’s license.
Are diplomats subject to regular laws?
Diplomats are not subject to the normal laws of local citizens. Every diplomat has a certain degree of immunity, although this doesn’t mean that diplomats can do whatever they want.
It just means that diplomats are exempt from the hosting country’s laws, so they can’t be arrested or tried under the country’s legal system.
As we stated earlier, though, there are exemptions to this law. If diplomats prove a severe threat to the public or are going to (or did) commit a severe crime, law enforcement can step in.
The U.S. Department of State DMV states that diplomats can also lose their licenses, like any driver, for drunk driving or committing serious moving violations. The video below explains how diplomatic immunity when it comes to driving is a myth — diplomats have to follow driving laws just like everyone else.
So while the short answer is yes, diplomats are not always subject to regular laws, this doesn’t mean it is a free-for-all, as diplomats still have to follow driving laws.
What happens when a diplomat gets into an accident?
As we explained before, diplomats are subject to the same driving laws as everyone else. This means that they can get tickets and have to pay for another driver’s costs through insurance.
However, diplomats also have diplomatic immunity, which means they can’t be criminally prosecuted. So unless diplomatic immunity is waived (such as if a diplomat got drunk behind the wheel and killed another driver), diplomats can’t be sued in court.
The video below shows a recent dispute over diplomatic immunity in the UK.
As you can see, it is a fine line between what diplomats should and shouldn’t be persecuted for. It is sometimes hard to determine blame in car accidents, which means that it is rare that a diplomat’s immunity is revoked, and usually only if there were serious illegal activities (such as driving impaired).
What types of coverage can diplomats get?
Diplomats can get all the same coverages as regular drivers, although they need to carry higher liability amounts. In addition to liability insurance, diplomats should carry collision, comprehensive, and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverages.
There are also numerous additional coverages that are optional add-ons and are offered at most providers:
- Umbrella coverage
- Roadside assistance
- Modified car coverage
- Gap coverage
- Medical Payments or PIP
Consider adding some of these additional coverages to fully protect you and your diplomatic vehicle. The video below explains the differences between all of these car insurance coverage options.
Now that we’ve reached the end of our guide, we hope you are prepared to dive into the process of buying diplomatic car insurance. You can start comparing car insurance rates today using our free quote tool. Just enter your ZIP code below.
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