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.

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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 exis...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Apr 22, 2020

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Things to Remember...

There are many insurance companies in the U.S. offering automobile insurance which also provides rental car insurance to drivers. However, if you are planning to rent a car, be sure to find out if your own car owner’s insurance policy will cover you when you drive a rental vehicle.

It is very likely that you do have rental auto insurance coverage already as an insured auto owner. Researching your own auto insurance is a good practice to repeat every year to make sure you are getting the best options available.

Enter your ZIP code into our FREE car insurance comparison tool to compare personalized quotes to the rates you are currently getting.

In addition, you should check with the credit card company that issued you the card which you are using to rent a car.

Many credit card users either forget or are not aware that they are insured to some extent under their credit card agreements whenever they use their cards to obtain rental cars.

Auto Insurance Companies that Offer Rental Car Insurance

A large number of very reputable and reliable auto insurance companies offer both auto owner’s insurance and rental car insurance.

Some of the most helpful insurers to drivers needing a rental car policy or additional coverage for car rentals are Geico, Allstate, Travelers, Progressive, Esurance and AARP.

Rental car insurance is also offered by American Express credit card services, along with many Visa and MasterCard credit cards issued by banks and financial services.

Rental car insurance may not be necessary to buy if you already have it in your current plan from your current company.

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Rental Car Companies

As a last resort, you can purchase insurance directly from a rental car company. However, the fee can be as high as at least a quarter of the total car rental cost.

Since auto insurance companies will probably offer you cheap auto insurance rates for the same type of rental car coverage, it is always best to contact your own carrier first.

Even if you are now at the rental car counter with impatient people waiting behind you, take a minute to call your auto insurance agent before paying any more fees.

Types of Insurance Coverage Required by the Majority of States in the U.S.

Although auto rental insurance policies vary among insurance providers and according to individual state laws, certain types of coverage are required by the majority of states. These mandatory areas of coverage include:

– Collision Damage Waiver (CDW)

CDW, or loss damage waiver, will protect you by covering the costs of any damage to your auto in a collision. It will also cover any harm caused to your car in case of theft or vandalism.

CDW is actually relatively inexpensive, costing approximately $10 to $20 per day.

This type of protection also covers any vehicle down-time—that is, the actual time a damaged vehicle cannot be rented out while it is in the repair shop. CDW, in effect, transfers liability for collision damages from the vehicle renter to the auto rental company itself.

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– Liability Insurance

Liability insurance, offering coverage for as much as $1 million, can cost from $7 to $18 per day for a rental car if the renter does not have a car owner policy to cover rental car liability.

With SLI, supplemental liability insurance, you can have additional protection.

SLI is actually an umbrella insurance product that can add as much a $1 million to your coverage, at a minimal rate.

Another option is to obtain non-owner rental car insurance through an agent or broker. This non-owner coverage comes at a very reasonable rate—often as little as $200 to $525 per year.

– Personal Accident Protection

This will cover ambulance and medical costs for both the rental car driver and passengers when they are involved in a road accident. The charge for this feature is around $2 to $6 a day.

Remember, however, that your health insurance along with the personal injury protection under your car owner’s insurance policy already covers this area.

– Personal Effects Insurance

Personal Effects Insurance reimburses for theft of items from your rental car, such as laptop computers, cellular phones, or sports equipment. This type of coverage will cost approximately $1 to $5 per day.

You may actually find it more economical to choose a floating policy under the homeowner’s or renter’s category. With this added coverage, such personal items are protected both at home and when you travel.

Together, liability and personal injury insurance will cover any damage or injury you may cause to another driver, car, or to property while you are behind the wheel of your moving vehicle.

Examples of Current Insurance Coverage Costs

Currently, rental car companies are charging around $230 to $575 for a weekly rental of an economy-size car. Supplemental insurance costs can easily add extra fees ranging from $10 to $50 per day.

In comparison, a quality non-owner liability policy can be yours from just $200 to $400 per year. Your final rate is dependent on such rating factors as your age and driving record.

Yet, even if you are paying the higher rate for your coverage, it is certainly much less costly than paying for the insurance offered by rental car companies if you rent vehicles frequently.

In the U.S., each state has a different yearly median rate for a car owner’s insurance. For instance, in 2011, the range of rates was as follows:

  • Idaho had the lowest yearly median rate of $872
  • Louisiana had the highest yearly median rate of $2,222
  • The average annual median rate for all states was $1,804

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Know Your Current Coverage

Before deciding on the type and extent of rental car insurance you will purchase for your next trip, be sure to fully examine the coverage you now have if you are covered by a car owner’s policy.

You will then know whether or not you need to supplement your current coverage with additional insurance products.

Find out the extent of insurance provided by the credit card you are using to rent a car. Then look at the coverage options offered by the rental car company.

Buying a Policy

Finally, consider the option of purchasing your own rental car policy, if you are a frequent auto renter. This can be either a stand-alone policy or supplemental coverage if you already have car owner’s insurance.

Every driver will have a different assessment according to individual needs, cost comparisons, personal rating factors, and the average annual insurance rates in your state of residency.

You need the best possible rental car coverage at an affordable cost. Ultimately, after careful consideration of the facts and figures, you will be prepared to make the very best choice for your lifestyle, budget and driving needs.

Enter your ZIP code into our FREE auto insurance comparison tool to find the best rental car insurance choices for you.