October 11, 2021
Insurance when renting a car

At least once a week we take a call about renting a car.

"Will they cover me with our current auto policy when renting a car?"

There are several ways to make sure you are protected when renting a vehicle.

Let's look at some options

First are you currently insurance?  Typically, this is the most common way people rent a car.  You arrive at the rental car company, where they ask are you currently insured and with what company.  We've had some rental companies call to verify coverage.  This is always a possibility and why we recommend keeping a copy of your auto insurance ID card in your wallet. 

Or, if you are like 99.99% of the population, you probably have a smart phone.  Chances are, today, your insurance company has an app for that, and by that, I mean proof of insurance.

Issues with using your auto insurance policy – when renting a car

  1. You may have liability insurance only, in which case you would not have coverage for collision, in the event of damage because of an accident that is your fault. It’s great that you have the basic liability coverage for bodily injury, but it’s not going to pay to repair the rented vehicle.
  2. You do have collision coverage on your policy, great. But, remember you have the same deductible, just as if you’re driving your car.  What happens if you get into an accident, where’s your ID card, oops…it’s in your car – see get the app above.
  3. Good news is you have coverage, if you’re using your current auto insurance policy, but it may not cover everything.

What is not covered under your regular auto insurance when renting a car?

Loss of use – the time the vehicle is out of service being repair is not going to be covered by your insurance carrier.  Sorry, but insurance companies do not want to pay the rental car companies for loss of income due to an accident.

  1. Hassle with dealing with turning in a claim with your current insurance company even if it’s not your fault. You might be asking, why do I have to report a claim to your own insurance company if it’s not your fault?  Well, the clerk at the rental car company is probably going to need your insurance info unless you’re carrying a winning lotto ticket.  Rental car companies really don’t like getting in the middle of accident issues and just want to turn around and rent the vehicle again.

Yes, using your own insurance is a great idea but it might complicate your travel plans when turning in the vehicle, especially if trying to catch a flight.

Using your credit card for coverage when renting a car

Yes and no.  Yes, depending on the card you use there might be coverage when renting a car but probably limitation.  Some VISA and MasterCard will provide coverage if the vehicle is stolen, damage when renting a car, towing and loss of use, if you have a personal insurance policy.  Some will even reimburse your deductible for a covered claim, will limits.  These cards are essentially acting as a secondary insurance policy.

Some of the higher end cards will offer primary coverage, were you are covered even if you have your own insurance policy; great for international travelers.

Apparently, America Express will allow you to change the coverage option on the card by paying a fee, which if you’re a regular traveler would be a good idea.  Rejecting the rental car coverage would be required to prevent duplicate coverage in this event.

Remember to triple check with your credit card company and verify injuries are covered as well, since most card that cover the vehicle for damage exclude bodily injury.

Renting a car and using the insurance available from the rental car company

By now you’re blurry eyed trying to read all the fine print between the credit card company and the rental agreement.  Confused, frustrated and have no patients for hassling with or have better things to do with your time?  You might want to consider taking the path of least resistance and buy the coverage offer by rental car company for $11 - $18 bucks a day.

  1. Car stolen – here’s the keys
  2. Car wrecked – here’s the keys
  3. Someone sideswiped the car – here’s the keys
  4. Car vandalized – here’s the keys
  5. Etc, etc, etc – here’s the keys

Keep in mind you’re only going to renting a car for a few days…sometimes it’s just the cost of doing business.

For more information on your insurance policy coverage’s – what covered, what’s not please give us a call at 314-569-1010 or click for quotes below.


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John Espenschied is a long-time veteran of the insurance industry. He's worked with thousands of clients over the years, helping to protect their personal and business needs. John's goal is to provide the best advice possible to assist customers in saving money while protecting their property and securing their financial future.
He truly enjoys helping others and takes great satisfaction in providing top-notch customer service. When he's not working, John has fun spending time with his family, golfing, bike riding, and blogging on insurance topics.

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