Is a second driver covered by auto insurance when renting a car?

A second driver is usually only covered by auto insurance when renting a car if you add them to the policy.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

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 ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: Jun 10, 2022

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Things to Remember

  • Rental car insurance is supplemental insurance that adds on to your auto insurance
  • A second driver won’t be covered when renting a car unless they are named on your insurance policy
  • Some credit card companies offer temporary or free travel insurance as a perk

A rental car is a convenient way to get around whatever city you’re traveling to. A lot of people allow their spouses or their licensed, adult children to drive their cars to go out and get things they might need while out on vacation. Here’s how to make sure any second driver is covered by auto insurance when you’re renting a car. 

Is a second driver covered by rental car insurance? 

If you’re going to have more than one person driving your rental vehicle, you should add them to the rental contract when you pick up the car. That way, you know you’re covered if that person happens to crash or damages the vehicle in some way.

If you don’t list a second driver on your rental car and someone else is caught driving, you could be liable for any damages or losses.

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How does rental car insurance work? 

Rental car companies offer insurance for third-party injury liability, third-party property damage, theft or collision damage, and protection for your personal effects. 

A lot of people find it easier to buy on-the-spot insurance coverage for a rental car, but you might not even need it. The auto insurance policy you purchased for your own car might already protect the rental car for the rental contract period. 

Your own auto insurance coverage for injury liability will usually extend to the rental car you’re driving as well, but it won’t usually extend to your second driver, unless they are also insured on your policy. In this case, your second driver must either have their own insurance, or you should add them to the rental contract to make sure they’re covered. 

If you have comprehensive or full coverage on your car at home, it may extend to rental cars. This varies by insurance company and policy, so you’ll need to check. This coverage doesn’t usually extend to second drivers unless they’re also named on your personal insurance policy. 

The second driver on your auto insurance policy can drive the rental car in your name, as long as your auto insurance provider says it’s okay.

When does a credit card help with rental insurance?

Some credit cards come with perks. Among those perks include rental insurance (sometimes). Just make sure to purchase the rental insurance with your credit card that offers that perk.

Many Credit Card Companies Offer What Amounts to Supplemental Car Insurance Coverage

Having a credit card that offers supplemental car insurance coverage is just an added bonus. If you already have auto insurance and rental insurance on top of that, you’ll have even more protection than the average person.

American Express is one credit card company offering temporary and travel insurance to its cardholders. If you’re traveling outside the US and decide to purchase a rental car, ask about your credit card coverage. But keep in mind that you might be required to use the credit card to pay for the car rental in full in order to receive this coverage.

Stack Up Insurance For More Protection 

Buying the supplementary car insurance offered by a rental company is often the easiest way to make sure your second driver is covered. If the second driver is named on your existing insurance policy, they may be covered for liability and even collision damage already. However, it is important to make sure that you have reviewed your policy to make sure your second driver is covered by your auto insurance. 

Adding rental car insurance means you don’t have to rely solely on your personal policy, and this only increases your level of protection for yourself and any second driver. 

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Getting Coverage for a Second Driver with a Rental Car

Ready to get the rental car coverage before you travel? Getting coverage for a second driver with a rental car is as easy as adding them to your rental car insurance policy. Adding a second driver to your supplemental rental car insurance is the best way to make sure they’ll be covered the same way you would in the event of an auto accident.

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