Mathew B. Sims is Editor-in-Chief and has authored, edited, and contributed to several books. He has been working in the insurance industry ensuring content is accurate for consumers who are searching for the best policies and rates. He has also been featured on sites like UpJourney.

Full Bio →

Written by

Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that exis...

Full Bio →

Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Apr 24, 2020

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right coverage choices.

Advertiser Disclosure: We strive to help you make confident insurance decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. We partner with top insurance providers. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.

Here's what you need to know...

  • If you need to rent a car, it’s a good idea to have rental car insurance
  • Not every driver actually needs to purchase the collision damage waiver by the car rental company
  • You must have auto insurance in 49 states throughout the USA

Rental car insurance is necessary if your personal policy, or company, does not cover the use of a rental car, or if you do not have auto insurance.

So, if you do have coverage, the first step to answer your question rests within the auto insurance policy itself.

To compare auto insurance quotes start with your zip code in the box above!

What do you know about your auto insurance rates?

If you want to drive legally, paying for auto insurance is something you must do in 49 of the United States.

When you rent a car, not every driver actually needs to purchase the collision damage waiver by the car rental company.

Some drivers opt to purchase the insurance when they’re traveling on business or simply want the extra protection in the event of an auto accident.

Getting behind the wheel of a rental car may expose you to additional risk unless you know what’s written in your auto insurance policy.

As an educated consumer, it’s a great idea to compare your auto insurance rates at least once a year.

Free Auto Insurance Comparison

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Free Auto Insurance Comparison

Enter your zip code below to view companies that have cheap auto insurance rates.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Why do I need to buy car rental insurance?

Perhaps you don’t need to purchase car rental insurance. Before you automatically decide to reject the offer to purchase auto insurance coverage at the car rental desk, talk to your auto insurance agent and read your auto insurance policy.

Sometimes, you’ve already purchased identical coverage and deductibles offered by the car rental insurance company.

However, if you’ve purchased only a state-mandated auto insurance policy with low coverage limits, taking a new rental car out on the road without additional coverage could be costly.

If your car is old and you don’t carry comprehensive, fire, or theft coverage, buying the car rental insurance in case you have a road accident can save your financial life!

Let’s say you’re on vacation. Does buying rental car insurance make sense then? If you’re visiting an unfamiliar location, knowing the roads and inclinations of other drivers may make an accident more probable than when you’re traveling to and from work.

If you’re visiting an unfamiliar location, knowing the roads and inclinations of other drivers may make an accident more probable than when you’re traveling to and from work.

If you’re traveling on business, take a moment to contact your company’s human resources department about your employer’s travel policies.

If you’re renting a car on business, the company you work for probably provides auto insurance coverage for your rental car.

Let’s say you’re a city dweller and don’t want to own a car where you live. You may rent a car with greater frequency than other drivers.

Your insurance agent can offer non-owner liability auto insurance, usually at attractive auto insurance rates.

You’ll save money on rental car insurance and know you’re covered in the event of an accident, theft, or fire of the rental car.

When do I need to call my credit card provider?

Before you rent a car, especially an expensive new car, you should call your credit card company.

Coverage can differ from one credit card company to another, so it’s a great idea to call the company whose card you plan to use to rent the car beforehand.

Some sports cars, motorhomes, or SUV vehicles may not qualify for coverage.

If you rent an automobile when you’re traveling in another country, your personal auto insurance policy may decline to cover an accident.

How do I understand the rental auto insurance coverage?

Anyone renting a car understands you usually don’t have a lot of time to read the fine print about what you’re buying if you opt to purchase car rental insurance.

The car rental agent usually offers:

  • Supplemental liability insurance (SLI) – for additional liability coverage of up to $1 million
  • Collision damage waiver (CDW) – for relief of financial responsibility if your car rental is damaged in an accident, or if it’s stolen
  • Personal accident insurance (PAI) – protects you and anyone riding in the rental vehicle in the event of an accident that results in medical expenses. Ask whether you need PAI if you already have a travel policy or health insurance in place
  • Personal effects coverage (PEC) – insures against damage to or theft of anything you place in the rental car. Some homeowner’s policies or riders to the insurance policy protect expensive items against theft or loss

If the rental car agent offers a bundle of coverage, you’ll need to read about the individual coverage limits of insurance offered in the bundle.

Check rental car insurance costs before you travel for surcharges, taxes, and fees assessed to you.

Comparing your auto insurance rates probably isn’t your idea of a good way to spend a day off from work.

Take the opportunity to get fast, no-cost auto insurance quotes now. Give us your zip code and compare FREE auto insurance quotess!