Hitting the road with your car is a great way to save on rental costs and take more control over how you travel. However, it can be tempting to throw in an extra $20 for that peace of mind if you’re renting a car. 

Here’s what you should know about adding rental insurance coverage to your auto policy.

Auto Insurance Can Cover Rental Cars

The last thing you need is a costly accident or fender bender in a rental car. But do you need the added expense of rental insurance? Rental insurance is an option on most auto insurance policies. It covers you if your rental car is damaged or stolen.

Typically you are financially responsible for damage to the rented vehicle. Some insurance policies will cover rental car damage from an accident, but you will want to check with your insurance company to ensure your policy includes that. 

If an accident was caused by someone else’s negligence (for example, another driver hit your car after running a red light) you typically will be covered under your standard liability policy. 

When in doubt, buy liability insurance from the car rental agency and let your policy cover vehicle damage.

Rental Car Coverage Does Not Cover Routine Maintenance

Rental car coverage is different from rental car reimbursement. Rental car coverage only protects the car you rented temporarily. On the other hand, if you’re involved in a covered accident driving your personal vehicle, rental car reimbursement on your auto insurance can pay for rental car use while your vehicle undergoes repairs.

Then, your auto insurance policy may cover the cost of the repairs to your vehicle and the cost of renting a car while in the shop.

Buy from the Car Rental Agency If You Have a Basic Policy

If you have an older or basic policy, consider adding rental car coverage when renting a car. These policies typically only cover damage that happens while in your vehicle.

Suppose your policy doesn’t cover damage to the outside of your vehicle. In that case, it’s worth buying damage insurance from the rental car agency.

Pros and Cons of Adding Rental Car Coverage


  • It’s a cheap way to protect yourself while driving a rental vehicle.
  • You have coverage if you get into an accident, regardless of who is at fault.


  • If money is tight, it may be challenging to afford additional coverage on top of the cost of your rental car and personal insurance policy.
  • Your auto insurance company will charge an additional fee for this kind of extra protection.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to rental car insurance, there are just too many variables to answer the question of whether or not you should have it. 

It’s essential to understand what kinds of coverage you already have and what types of risks you face when renting a car. For example, if your policy doesn’t cover rental cars, adding one to your existing auto insurance may make sense in some situations.

At Winstead Insurance, we can help you navigate how rental car coverage works and whether adding it to your policy makes sense. We can also help you compare quotes from multiple insurers to find the right coverage for you.