Does My Auto Insurance Cover Rental Cars

Are you one of the millions of people every year who start googling when asked at a rental car counter if they want to buy the insurance, wondering if you are already covered by your personal auto insurance? The quick answer is that your insurance probably covers you, at least to some degree. But it’s wise to dig a little more before getting behind the wheel. 


What does your car insurance cover usually?

The key to the question of whether your rental car will be covered in an accident is whether your usual car insurance would have covered the same situation in your own car. If you have liability insurance (which you are legally required to), then typically, your policy will cover liability claims in a rental car. If you also have collision insurance, which covers damage to the car you’re driving, then this should also be covered in a rental. The same goes for comprehensive coverage, which typically covers claims not related to driving, like from theft, vandalism and weather. 

Other coverage you may not realize you have

If there is an incident in a rental car, your auto-insurance policy may not be the only policy that will come to your aid. Homeowners insurance or renters insurance will likely cover your personal effects, albeit to a lesser degree, when you are outside your home. If your laptop or bookbag is stolen, you can submit a claim under these policies. 

Interestingly, your credit card may also come to your rescue and fill in gaps in your coverage. This is only the case if you used the card to rent the car, but it is still worth checking in to. Travel insurance, personal injury insurance and health insurance, depending on if you have them, can also help. 

What their insurance may cover better

While you likely have some insurance that overlaps with the car-rental company’s coverage, there are also a number of circumstances where it can pay off to get their insurance. If you are traveling overseas, your auto insurance may not cover your rental. Also, if you have a high-deductible insurance plan and they have a small deductible, it may be worth it to fill that gap. You may even just get it in case an accident does happen, so you don’t have to file a claim and risk your rate going up. 

Often car-rental companies offer a simple “damage waiver” that removes your responsibility for any typical accidents. Be careful though, because if you are determined to have been breaking traffic laws or were otherwise negligent, the waiver may be void, making you liable to cover the costs. 

When in doubt, call your insurance agent

So, to summarize, the coverage at a car-rental office likely overlaps with insurance you already have. But it would be wise to confirm that that’s the case, and to what degree, so you don’t neglect to protect yourself against possible risks when you are driving a car you aren’t used to in an area you don’t typically travel. So, before making a decision, why not call an insurance expert? If you don’t have a trusted insurance agent, give Winstead Insurance a call. You can reach our Elkton, Maryland, office at (410) 398-6700.