Will my car insurance cover me abroad?

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Here's what you need to know...
  • U.S. car insurance laws differ from international laws
  • Insurance laws on coverage vary from country to country
  • Rental car companies may allow you to purchase insurance when you book the rental
  • Shop and compare companies to see if you can get car rental insurance that will work overseas

When shopping for car insurance, one question you need to ask is whether your car insurance covers you when you are on vacation abroad.

There are different laws and regulations regarding car insurance for car owners, so it’s important to know those differences.

In addition, some car insurance is not valid at all once your cross the border into another country. So, if you travel a lot to other countries or are planning to travel to another country soon, it pays to do your research before purchasing.

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Will American car insurance cover a rental overseas?

Side front view of black car.

The short answer is, “no.” In general, the car insurance that you carry on your car in the U.S. will not work overseas because you are not driving the same car.

Unless you plan to have your car shipped overseas, you will not have your car with you when you land in another country. You will be driving a rental car.

Since the rental car is a different car than the one you normally drive, your current insurance will not do.

Options for Coverage

The solution to making sure you are covered when you are abroad is to either get rental car insurance or vacation insurance for any other expenses you might have on your vacation that you forfeit due to an accident, illness, or other situation.

Here are some differences between the two:

Rental Car Insurance

Rental car insurance covers the rental car you drive while you are visiting abroad. It is brand new insurance that is good only for the time that you rent the car.

While you are driving the rental, you are responsible for any damages incurred.

Sometimes the rental car company will offer insurance in order to protect their investment.

If you choose not to purchase rental car insurance from the rental company, you will need to compare insurance companies to see where you can find car rental insurance.

Should you drive without either type of coverage, you are setting yourself up for disaster if an accident occurs during your trip.

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Vacation Insurance

Vacation insurance — or travel insurance as it is often called — can be very misleading because it sounds like it might cover rental car insurance on one’s vacation.

Vacation insurance, however, is not car insurance. It only covers the loss of items you might lose that are valuable while on vacation.

It can also pay for any expenses that you incurred for your vacation, including accommodations, recreation, or other rentals in the event that your vacation had to be canceled beyond the cancellation date or cut short because of illness or other emergencies.

While vacation insurance is a good thing to consider if you are planning a trip abroad, it in no way provides insurance for your rental car.

Tips on Getting the Best Rental Car Insurance When Traveling Abroad

Winding mountain road against the sun in early morning. Mountain Golija, Serbia.

Here are some good tips on how to get the best rental car insurance when you are abroad.

  • Book your rental in advance of your trip This will allow you to compare prices of different insurance companies ahead of time so you won’t be rushed to research the best deal once there.
  • Take advantage of added coverage Consider whether or not you would like to add roadside assistance options, replacement parts coverage, and other items to your policy.
  • Read through your current auto insurance policy Check your current policy to see if there is an option for international coverage or rental car coverage. Then ask your agent to compare policies to see which offers the best deal when you plan to travel abroad.
  • Track your purchases Use a credit card when reserving your rental car so that there will be a way to track the rental car purchase. Check the regulations of international insurance and travel and compare with what your company offers when you are shopping for coverage.

Finding the Right Coverage

The first step in getting car insurance when traveling abroad is to shop and compare. But you have to know what you are looking for.

The best idea is to see if any of the policies you are considering have rental car insurance for international travel. Some do carry car insurance that you can add to your current policy or as an extra ‘rider’ that you purchase.

If you do determine that the policy you are considering does not cover that, you may want to shop further. It is important to make sure you are covered from accident, theft, or damage when traveling abroad.

Remember, the car you are driving in such circumstances is not your own. So your normal car insurance may not work. But you are still liable for damages if you are in an accident.

The court system and police reporting may be different abroad than in the U.S. as well. So keep all of these things in mind and shop for car insurance before booking your vacation.

To search for the best rental car insurance coverage, enter your zip code below now!

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