will car insurance cover rental car

Will Car Insurance Cover Rental Car

Renting a car can provide convenient and affordable transportation when traveling or if your own vehicle is in the shop. However, it’s important to understand your car insurance coverage when renting a vehicle. Will your existing auto insurance policy extend to a rental car?

What additional insurance options should you consider? This article will provide an in-depth look at car insurance coverage as it relates to rental cars. We’ll start with an overview of common car insurance policies, then discuss rental car insurance options,

how to determine if your own policy covers rentals, tips for renting a car with proper coverage, and more. Understanding these issues is crucial to avoiding financial surprises and ensuring you have adequate protection when driving a rental.

Types of Car Insurance Coverage

To understand how rental cars fit into the equation, it helps to first have a basic grasp of the core types of coverage in a standard auto insurance policy.

Liability Insurance

Liability insurance is required in most states and pays for damage that you cause to other vehicles or property if you are deemed at-fault in an accident. It’s comprised of two components:

  • Bodily Injury Liability – Covers injuries to others caused by your vehicle in an at-fault accident
  • Property Damage Liability – Covers damage to other vehicles or property in an at-fault accident

Liability insurance follows the driver. So the liability coverage on your own policy would extend to a rental car in the event you caused an at-fault accident. However, the minimum liability limits mandated by states are generally inadequate, so experts recommend increasing this protection.

Liability Insurance
Liability Insurance

Collision Insurance

Collision insurance covers damage to your own vehicle after an accident, regardless of fault. Coverage often has a deductible, which is the amount you pay out-of-pocket before insurance kicks in. Whether collision extends to a rental car depends on your individual policy details, which we’ll explore later.

Comprehensive Insurance

Comprehensive coverage is for damage to your car that is not accident-related, including theft, vandalism, weather, fire and more. As with collision, whether comprehensive applies to a rental depends on your specific policy.

Personal Injury Protection and Medical Payments Coverage

Personal injury protection (PIP) and medical payments coverage pay for medical expenses like doctor visits, hospital bills, lost wages and more after an accident. PIP may apply to the driver, passengers and household members. This coverage typically only extends to your own car and occupants – not rental cars.

Personal Injury Protection And Medical Payments Coverage
Personal Injury Protection and Medical Payments Coverage

Rental Car Insurance Options

Now that we’ve reviewed core auto insurance components, what about coverage specifically for rental cars? Rental car companies and third-party providers offer various insurance products when you rent a vehicle.

Rental Car Company Insurance Options

Collision Damage Waiver – Also called loss damage waiver (LDW), this optional coverage offered by rental companies waives your financial responsibility for vehicle damage. However, it may be duplicative if you have adequate coverage through your own policy.

Liability Insurance – This covers bodily injury and property damage to others when driving the rental car. Some rental companies include basic liability coverage in the base rental rate. Others may require you to purchase a liability supplement.

Personal Accident Insurance – Also called supplemental liability, personal accident insurance provides coverage for medical expenses related to injuries to you and your passengers after an accident. It may also include death benefits. This does not cover damage to the rental vehicle.

Personal Effects Coverage – This optional product pays for loss or damage to personal items inside the rental vehicle, such as luggage, cameras or electronics. It’s rarely needed if you have renters or homeowners insurance.

Rental Car Company Insurance Options
Rental Car Company Insurance Options

Credit Card Rental Car Coverage

Many credit cards provide rental car benefits when you use the card to reserve and pay for the rental. However, coverage varies widely. Common benefits include:

  • Collision damage waiver – Reimburses deductible after an accident
  • Theft protection
  • Towing service
  • Loss or damage to personal items

Always check with your specific credit card company to understand what is included and important details like policy limits.

Does Your Car Insurance Policy Cover Rental Cars?

Whether your own car insurance extends to a rental vehicle depends on your specific policy details. Here’s how to find out:

Carefully Review Your Policy

Reading your policy’s fine print is the best way to gain clarity on what transfers. Key points to look for include:

  • Rental reimbursement coverage – Provides compensation for rental costs if your car is in the shop after an accident. Does not cover damage to the rental itself.
  • Liability coverage – Standard policies extend liability protection to rental cars. However, check that you don’t have exclusions for business use rentals.
  • Collision and comprehensive – See if these coverages “follow the car you rent or drive.” Some policies extend physical damage coverage to rental cars automatically while others require you to add an endorsement.
Carefully Review Your Policy
Carefully Review Your Policy

Contact Your Insurance Company

If your policy’s rental car coverage is unclear even after a thorough review, don’t hesitate to contact your insurance provider. An agent can explain coverages and clauses specific to your plan and answer any questions. Make sure to get information in writing via email or letter.

Consider Extra Coverage If Needed

If your personal policy does not extend comprehensive and collision or has significant gaps, you may want to purchase extra protection through the rental company or credit card benefits.

Loss damage waiver through the rental agency or collision coverage from a credit card typically costs $10-30 per day. While Adding these isn’t mandatory, they can provide peace of mind if you lack adequate coverage.

Certainly, here’s a table summarizing the key points related to whether car insurance will cover a rental car:

AspectCoverage for Rental Cars
Types of Car Insurance Coverage
– Liability InsuranceGenerally does not cover rental cars
– Collision InsuranceMay cover rental cars (check policy)
– Comprehensive InsuranceMay cover rental cars (check policy)
– Personal Injury Protection (PIP)Typically does not cover rental cars
Rental Car Insurance Options
– Rental Car Company CoverageVaries (CDW/LDW, Liability, PAI, PEC)
– Credit Card CoverageMay provide rental car insurance benefits (varies by card)
Will Car Insurance Cover Rental Cars?Check your policy and contact your insurer for details
Tips for Renting a Car with Insurance– Review rental agreement
– Keep records of insurance policies and rental agreements
– Document pre-existing rental car damage
ConclusionBe informed and make informed decisions to ensure adequate rental car coverage
will car insurance cover rental car

Tips for Renting a Car with Insurance

Follow these tips when renting a car to ensure proper insurance coverage is in place:

Tips For Renting A Car With Insurance
Tips for Renting a Car with Insurance

Carefully Review the Rental Agreement

Take time to read the full rental contract and be aware of the company’s insurance offerings. Many renters get pressured to buy confusing and duplicative policies at the counter. Know the terms and your rights so you can avoid feeling forced into unnecessary products.

Understand Deductibles and Exclusions

Insurance packages from rental companies and credit cards have deductibles, which is the amount you pay before coverage activates. These can range from $500 to $2,000+. High deductibles negate much of the value. Also be aware of exclusions like luxury models and exotic locales.

Document Pre-Existing Damage

Do a thorough walkaround and take photos documenting any scratches, scrapes or damage prior to driving off the lot. This protects you from being charged for previous wear and tear. Also hold onto rental agreements and inspection records.

Keep Paperwork Handy

Carry proof of insurance, credit card coverage terms, and rental agreement in the car at all times. This provides documentation if you need to file a claim. Contact insurer right away if an accident happens.

Using Debit Cards

Debit cards rarely offer rental car coverage. Paying with credit whenever possible gives you access to superior benefits and protections. If using a debit card, inquire about paying for damage waiver upfront for coverage.

Avoid Unnecessary Policies

Umbrella liability insurance marketed at rental counters adds a layer of protection on top of the standard policy. Your personal car insurance and credit card coverage likely have you covered already, making add-ons like this redundant.

Difference between Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) and Loss Damage Waiver (LDW):

  • CDW and LDW refer to essentially the same type of coverage offered by rental car companies. They are used interchangeably. Both waive the renter’s financial responsibility for damage to the rental vehicle.
  • The main difference is in naming convention – rental companies may call it CDW or LDW depending on the provider. But they provide the same type of protection.

Common Exclusions for Rental Car Insurance:

  • Luxury, premium, and exotic vehicle models
  • Rentals exceeding 15-30 days
  • Rentals obtained through peer-to-peer platforms like Turo or Getaround
  • Damage caused by natural disasters, weather events or civil unrest
  • Mechanical failures or damage related to wear and tear
  • Damage occurring in certain countries outside the U.S.
  • Rentals for commercial purposes like deliveries
  • Damage caused by drivers not listed on the policy or rental agreement
Common Exclusions for Rental Car Insurance:

Do All Credit Cards Offer Rental Car Insurance?

No, not all credit cards have rental car insurance benefits. It depends on the issuer and type of card. Typically premium travel credit cards are more likely to include coverage than basic cards.

Cards branded Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover are the most common providers. Cardholders should always verify benefits by contacting their provider before relying on a credit card for coverage. Reviewing terms annually is a good idea.

Pros of Car Insurance Covering Rental Cars:

  1. Cost Savings: It can save you money by avoiding additional rental car insurance.
  2. Familiarity: Dealing with your own insurer is often more convenient.
  3. Consistency: You get a consistent level of protection for your car and rental cars.

Cons of Car Insurance Covering Rental Cars:

  1. Policy Limitations: Your policy may have limitations on rental car coverage.
  2. Premiums: Filing a rental car claim could increase your premiums.
  3. Gaps: Your policy may have coverage gaps that rental car insurance could fill.
  4. Complexity: Understanding your policy’s rental car coverage can be complex.
  5. Limited Control: You might have less control over coverage compared to rental agency insurance.


Do you need extra insurance when renting a car in USA?

Yes, it’s generally wise to consider extra insurance when renting a car in the USA. While your personal policy may cover collision damage, it likely has exclusions. Optional insurance through the rental company or credit card coverage can provide backup protection in case of an accident or theft.

Do you need car insurance to rent a car in Florida?

Florida law requires anyone renting a car to carry liability insurance. While rental agencies provide minimum coverage, experts recommend supplementing this with your own policy or additional insurance to ensure adequate protection in the event of an at-fault accident, especially given Florida’s many tourists.

What does comprehensive insurance cover?

Comprehensive insurance covers non-collision damage to your vehicle including theft, vandalism, weather events like hail or floods, fire, and collisions with animals. It protects against loss events beyond just accidents. Comprehensive coverage often extends to rental cars but check your policy.

Does car insurance cover international rentals?

Most standard U.S. car insurance policies do not provide coverage for overseas rentals. You’ll need to purchase supplemental liability and physical damage coverage directly through the rental agency to ensure you are protected when driving abroad. Some credit cards do offer international rental coverage.


Renting a car brings convenience but also insurance considerations. Now that you understand policy options, evaluating your own coverage, available rental car add-ons, and credit card protections, you can make informed choices.

Doing your homework allows you to identify gaps and acquire cost-effective supplemental coverage as needed. With the proper protections and precautions in place, you can hit the road with confidence in a rental car knowing you are adequately covered.

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