What insurance do I need for a rental car?

Check your current auto insurance policy to see what coverage you already have for rentals. If you don't have enough, you may want to buy supplemental coverage.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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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 Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Oct 22, 2021

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Things to Remember...

  • Educating yourself about the car rental process beforehand can save you a lot of time and money
  • Just because you don’t own a car, doesn’t mean you are free of all damages in the case of an accident
  • Check your current car policy to make sure what coverage you already have for rentals
  • If you do not own a car or have a low liability limit, you may want to purchase supplemental coverage

If you are planning a domestic trip, you have a lot to plan for. You not only need to arrange flights and lodgings but may need to rent a car for your trip.

When asked if they would like to purchase a long list of insurance products, most people are caught off guard.

Doing your research beforehand is important to ensure you get the most competitive rate and know what you’re looking for.

Just because you don’t own a rental car doesn’t mean you are free of all responsibility for any damage you may cause.

Most people don’t want to pay the additional cost of insurance but also don’t want to suffer an expensive loss without it. This is why it is so critical that you understand how rental car insurance works.

Start comparing auto insurance rates now by using our FREE tool above!

Reviewing Coverage on your Personal Auto Insurance Policy

The first thing to do is to check your current car policy. Some policies already cover the most common damages that can occur in a rental.

Before you buy additional experience, start with the one you’ve got. Many people either do not know that their personal auto insurance extends to rental cars or are not confident that the insurance is adequate.

Without checking your current policy, you may end up with duplicate coverage. This means you double the price without double the coverage.

While doubling your liability coverage may benefit you if you are the driver at-fault in a serious accident, doubling coverage for a vehicle will not help.

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How does your personal insurance protect you?

Many don’t know how an insurance policy works. Some claim the policy follows the car while others claim the policy follows the driver. Neither is correct – it all depends on the situation.

When you rent a car, any rental car rented in the policyholder’s name is covered as if the renter’s own vehicle.

This is because a rented car is covered under the policy as a temporary substitute car and receives the broadest coverage listed on your declarations page. In this instance, the insurance follows the driver. Here’s how the coverage can extend:

Bodily Injury and Property Damage

Your liability coverage will protect you and listed drivers on your policy. If you are crossing state lines, your liability will be adjusted to match the requirements of each state.



If your policy includes comprehensive coverage, which pays for damages to your vehicle after a fire, theft, vandalism, or other non-moving incidents, it may carry over to your rental.


Collision is another form of physical damage coverage covers a rental for damage sustained in a crash with a car or non-moving object. If you have full coverage, you will only be responsible for the deductible should you damage your rental.

It is important to note that you may be responsible for paying lost potential rental fees while the car is being repaired.

Your insurance policy will not cover these costs.

What types of supplemental auto insurance coverage can you buy?

If you already have full coverage insurance, you may not need supplemental coverage at all. However, if you don’t own a car and don’t have insurance, or if you have low limits and high deductibles, you may want to consider supplemental insurance.

Here are some of the supplemental options you may consider:

Collision Damage or Loss Damage Waiver

This coverage pays for all repairs and is not subject to a deductible. It also waives loss of use, so you won’t be charged for lost income. If you have high deductibles, no physical damage cover, or you just don’t want a claim on your policy, this may be the choice for you.

Supplemental Liability Insurance

This coverage provides you with an additional $1 million in liability coverage for less than $10 per day. This choice is advisable for those without a car or those with low limits of liability.

Personal Effects Coverage

This option covers luggage and other belongings if stolen or damaged in a rental. If you will be carrying valuables and do not have property insurance or travel insurance, this is a good option.

Some people are not aware that if you have sufficient coverage through your own policy, you may not need rental insurance.

However, to others without a car or a low liability limit, the extra insurance could save a lot of money and time in the case of an accident.

Make sure to do your research before selecting insurance. You can get started by comparing rates. Enter your zip code below to get started!


  1. https://www.iii.org/article/rental-car-insurance
  2. https://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2012/06/04/should-you-purchase-rental-car-insurance
  3. https://www.libertymutual.com/auto/car-insurance-coverage/collision-insurance
  4. https://usatoday30.usatoday.com/travel/columnist/mcgee/2004-03-09-mcgee_x.htm
  5. https://content.time.com/time/travel/article/0,31542,1897553,00.html

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