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Home » Does Auto Insurance Cover Rental Cars: What You Need to Know
February 20, 2024
Bargain Insurance Connection

Does Auto Insurance Cover Rental Cars: What You Need to Know

When you’re standing at the rental car counter eager to start your trip, the question inevitably arises: “Do I really need the rental company’s insurance?” Understanding whether your current auto insurance covers rental cars is crucial for making an informed decision.

In this comprehensive guide, we explore the ins and outs of auto insurance coverage relating to rental vehicles—arming you with knowledge to rent with confidence.

Understanding Auto Insurance

Before diving into specifics about rental cars, let’s unpack what auto insurance typically entails. Auto insurance policies can include various forms of coverage such as liability, collision, and comprehensive, each serving a different purpose:

  • Liability: Covers the costs associated with damage and injuries you cause to others.
  • Collision: Pays for damage to your vehicle if involved in an accident.
  • Comprehensive: Provides protection against theft and damage caused by something other than a collision, like fire or vandalism.
  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP): Helps with medical expenses regardless of who’s at fault.

Each state has its own requirements for auto insurance coverage, and what’s optional in one state could be mandatory in another.

Primary Auto Insurance

Now, consider renting a car. Your primary auto insurance will often extend to your rental vehicle as long as you’re using the car for personal travel. This means that the coverages you have for your personal vehicle would also apply to the rental car, often including liability, collision, and comprehensive coverage.

Nevertheless, it’s vital to contact your insurance provider before renting to verify that your policy extends coverage and to understand any limitations that may apply.

Secondary Auto Insurance

Here’s where it gets interesting. Many credit card companies offer rental car coverage as a perk of using their card to pay for the rental. This coverage typically acts as secondary insurance, meaning it only kicks in after your primary insurance has been exhausted.

Some credit cards even provide primary coverage. Remember to review your credit card agreement to confirm the details.

Likewise, rental car agencies provide their own insurance options at an additional cost. While not always necessary, they provide peace of mind, especially if your personal policy lacks certain coverage types.

Woman renting a car. Does your auto insurance cover rental cars?

Exceptions and Limitations

Despite the overlapping protections, there are caveats:

  • Some policies may not cover rentals in foreign countries.
  • Certain types of vehicles like luxury or recreational ones might be excluded.
  • You may not be covered for business-related travel.

Moreover, it’s important to be aware that some insurers only transfer coverage to a rental car if it serves as a replacement vehicle while yours is being repaired, or if you’ve filed a claim.

It’s essential, therefore, to consult with your insurance agent to clarify whether your policy supports this provision before you decline the rental company’s insurance offer.

To avoid surprises, know your coverage limits and the rental agency’s policy. Understand potential scenarios that may result in high out-of-pocket costs.

Optional Coverage

If you find gaps in your existing insurance coverage, especially if you only carry liability insurance, consider these options:

  • Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) / Collision Damage Waiver (CDW): This waives financial responsibility if the rental car is damaged or stolen.
  • Supplemental Liability Insurance (SLI): Increases your liability coverage beyond the rental agency’s basic plan.
  • Personal Accident Insurance (PAI): Offers additional medical coverage.
  • Personal Effects Coverage (PEC): Protects personal property such as phones or laptops.

Tips for Renting a Car

To ensure you’re properly covered, follow these steps:

  1. Review Your Current Policy: Understand your policy’s coverage, deductibles, and any exclusions.
  2. Contact Your Insurance Agent: Ask about coverage for rental cars specifically.
  3. Check With Your Credit Card Provider: Learn about any rental car benefits associated with your card.
  4. Inspect the Rental Car: Before leaving the lot, document any pre-existing damage.
  5. Consider Additional Coverage: If you find coverage gaps, select additional protection that makes sense for your needs.


Whether your auto insurance covers your rental car depends on your existing policy, the rental agency, and other personal factors such as credit card benefits.

The key takeaway is to do your research before you rent. By fully understanding your coverage and your options, you can drive off into your next adventure with both peace of mind and wallet intact.

Remember, knowledge is power – especially when it comes to insurance.

In case you have further inquiries regarding auto insurance, please reach out to us at 816.453.7722. Bargain Insurance Connection stands as a premier provider for car insurance within Missouri, Kansas, and Illinois.

Read More:

Can I Insure a Car That Is Not In My Name?

Does My Auto Insurance Cover My Trailer?

Categories: Auto Insurance

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