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Everything You Need To Know About Rental Car Insurance

You’re standing at the rental car counter with a long line behind you. You got a great rate on a car for the week, and you’re ready to go on vacation with the family. Then, you’re handed a clipboard with an intimidating rental car contract filled with confusing insurance options. Suddenly, you wish you’d spent less time packing and more time researching rental car insurance.

Since rental car insurance isn’t something most of us will deal with on a daily basis, it’s easy to get confused or overwhelmed when presented with a choice for this type of coverage. Continue reading on to learn some basic facts about rental car insurance and whether or not you need extra coverage beyond your personal auto insurance policy.

What Is Rental Car Insurance?

Not to be confused with rental reimbursement coverage, which is an add-on to your auto insurance policy that provides reimbursement for a rental car in the event your car is being repaired due to a covered loss or accident, rental car insurance is insurance that covers you when you rent a vehicle directly from a rental car company, such as Enterprise Rent-A-Car. When you’re renting a car at the airport or at another rental car location, you will be asked whether you want to add insurance to your rental, or whether you want to waive the insurance.

Do I Need Rental Car Insurance?

The most common question when it comes to renting a car for domestic travel is “do I need rental car insurance coverage?” The answer is: it depends. You want to make sure you and your rental vehicle are covered, but you also don’t want to pay for unnecessary duplicate insurance coverages that could double the price of your rental.

How To Tell If You Need Rental Car Insurance Coverage

The first step is to check your auto insurance policy, or contact your provider to see what type of coverage for rental cars may already be included in your personal auto insurance policy. If you carry comprehensive and liability coverage on your personal car, coverage typically will extend to your rental car within the United States.

If you’re renting a car in the U.S. of similar value to your personal car, in all likelihood your auto insurance coverage will be adequate for the rental. But if you’re off to a blowout beach weekend in a slick set of wheels like a Corvette Stingray and you’re leaving your 2008 Subaru Forester at home, purchasing the extra auto insurance coverage offered by the rental company may be a good idea.

Does My Credit Card Provide Rental Car Insurance?

You should also check with your credit card company—the credit card that you’ll be using for your car rental. If there are any gaps in coverage with your personal auto policy, the credit card company could provide secondary coverage.

GEICO can help with travel insurance.

Airport signs for passenger pick up and rental carsWhat Is Covered Under A Typical Rental Car Insurance Policy?

Most rental companies typically have a short, predictable suite of rental vehicle insurance offerings. Know the policy of your rental company before you arrive at the counter. Check your personal auto insurance policy to determine if you’re already properly covered and are able to decline the offered coverage from the rental company.

Rental car insurance is usually broken out into the following coverages:

  • Liability coverage
  • Personal accident insurance
  • Collision Damage Waiver (CDW)/Loss Damage Waiver
  • Personal Effects Coverage

Insurance You May Have Already

Liability Coverage

This is a basic component of most car insurance policies. If you have adequate liability coverage on your own vehicle (check with your insurance provider), you may choose to skip this one.

Personal Accident Insurance

This covers your medical bills in the event of a crash in the rental car. As long as you have personal injury protection or medical payments coverage on your auto policy and reliable health insurance, you may not need this coverage.

Rental Car Coverages You Might Need

Collision Damage Waiver (CDW)/Loss Damage Waiver

This is not an insurance product, but rather a waiver that transfers financial responsibility from you to the rental car company in case of damage or theft. In most cases, collision damage waivers also provide coverage for “loss of use” if the rental car company charges for the time a damaged car can not be used because it is being repaired.

Personal Effects Coverage

If you have a homeowners, renters or condo policy, your personal items will generally be covered even if they are stolen from a rental car. Review your policy documents to be sure before you elect or decline this coverage.

Next steps: To learn more about your policy and rental car insurance, call us at 1-800-841-0728 or review your policy documents on Or, if you’re looking for a new auto policy, compare car insurance and see why GEICO is the right choice.

Get GEICO Auto insurance.

    Leave a comment

  1. Steve Holt says,

    Thanks for the information! I agree, it seems important to have some kind of insurance when renting a car. I’ve heard that there are certain types of insurance that I can afford turning down when I need to rent a car. The information about liability insurance did a good job answering my question. It’s good to know that I can decline having it on my rental.

  2. Gus Chiggins says,

    Knowing what options you have available to you before you choose a company is a good idea. You definitely wouldn’t want to have duplicate coverages you already have. With my last rent a car, we found just what we wanted. I am so glad it was an easy process, it made traveling much easier.

  3. Jerry Jackson says,

    This is the most reliable information for me, I love traveling and exploring new places. Thank you for sharing your advice regarding to car insurance. Love to read your article and got many important information which i have not known before. Well shared!! Keep posting.

  4. Kent Nelson says,

    This is really helpful information, because I am going to be traveling a lot from now on. Hopefully we will be able to figure out if I will be able to get a rental car with my insurance. I have been looking into it, and I hope that my insurance covers rental cars. If not, we might have to switch insurances.

  5. Jeff Bridges says,

    It’s really important to be aware of your own policy if it actually does cover rentals before you rent. It seems like a lot of the time it doesn’t if it doesn’t, then you do have the option to purchase rental insurance from the car rental place. It is a good idea to get a good coverage policy.

  6. Jamarcus Dantley says,

    I’ve been thinking about taking a trip, but I don’t know much about rental car insurance. I would like to save as much money as I can. Thanks for defining the different types of insurance. This should help me to make the best decision.

  7. Delores Lyon says,

    Thanks for sharing this advice regarding rental car insurance. I actually plan on getting a rental car when I go on vacation next month, but I want to make sure that I am not paying for extra coverage. It sounds like I need to check car insurance policies and see which one would complement rental car insurance the best.

  8. sean says,

    I always have this problem. I never think about the rental car coverage until they are asking me about it at the counter. I will have to remember to check with my insurance company beforehand next time I get a rental car. Thank you for the tip about checking with your credit card company. I had no idea that they would provide gap coverage on rental cars.

    • Paige Smith says,

      I wonder if your credit card would have a policy on it that covers as rental insurance. If it does not maybe it might be worth looking into with your auto agent. This has always been confusing to me too.

  9. Serge Duval says,

    It’s true that people generally don’t think about this until they’re standing at the counter (and yeah, it does seem like this always happens “with a long line behind you”). Clearly, it’s important to do a bit of research beforehand so that you can know what kind of coverage to choose, if any. Thanks for the useful article!

  10. Mike G says,

    Always good to check before you go on your trip. You may be surprised that countries like Australia, Italy, Israel + more have unique situations where your coverage in the United States means nothing there. For those countries you may need buy coverage from the rental agency.

  11. Carlos says,

    I rented a vehicle and purchased liability insurance. However I did scratched the car. Does my insurance cover this even though I didn’t put my insurance in the contract.

  12. Temple Fugate says,

    You should call GEICO before you rent a car, to make sure what’s covered. They may only cover damage if your main car is in the shop (travel or personal rental may not be covered). They also may not cover the rental past 30 days. Enterprise rents in 30 day blocks, but can rewrite beyond that in 30 day blocks. If you report a claim to GEICO beyond 30 days they will most likely decline to cover it. So if you want a claim covered you should make sure that you report renting for 30 days or less and for a car repair. Also if your coverage is for a car valued @ 6 grand, that may be the limit they will cover on damage to the rental. Be sure to check ALL your credit (not debit) cards to see which one offers coverage beyond what GEICO offers. They may reimburse you just for the deductible and they may cover amounts over what GEICO does not pay.

  13. Quin Trent says,

    Depending on the coverage that you have with your auto insurance, will determine if it covers a rental vehicle or if you need to get their coverage services. You can check with your provider to see if that is covered in your plan as well. If it does not, then you will have to, but even if it doesn’t, it can still be a good idea to get their coverage as well. That way you can be certain that things will be fully covered.

  14. Stephanie Rodgers says,

    I always wondered if rental insurance was needed when renting a car. From everything I understand in your article about personal injury coverage, home owners insurance, and adequate health insurance, most accidents or issues would already be covered in your current auto insurance policies. Now I just need to go verify with my auto insurance to make sure that I currently have all of these.

    • paige smith says,

      Rental insurance is not a requirement for you to rent a car. However, basic auto insurance is. The place where you are renting the car from though most likely will have insurance for their belongings.

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