Question My car doesn’t get great gas mileage, so I typically rent a car for long road trips. The rental car company always offers insurance, but I don’t know if I actually need it. Should I get rental car insurance, or does my own policy cover me?
Joel Brekken, a Farmers Insurance agent in Duluth, Minnesota, explains car insurance options for rental cars.
Answer With most personal auto policies, your coverage extends to vehicles that you rent on a temporary basis and drive yourself. You’re covered as if you’re driving your own car. But be sure to check your policy or call your agent to confirm you’re covered before driving off in a rental.
If you have an accident while driving a rental car and you’re at fault, the liability coverage of your own car insurance policy can help pay if someone else gets hurt, or their property is damaged. In many states, your liability coverage includes damage to the rental car itself, because it’s considered the rental company’s property. If you’re in a state where liability does not cover a rental car, you would need comprehensive and collision coverage on your own policy if you want to cover damage to the car you’re renting. Your policy’s deductible would apply if covering any damage to a rental car. Talk to your agent if you’re not sure how your policy covers rentals.
You can also buy insurance from the rental company for a daily fee. That way your financial responsibility for any injury and property damage, including damage to your rental car, can be covered by the rental company, up to the temporary policy’s stated limits. Most rental company policies have a $0 deductible, so you pay nothing out of pocket. That’s one reason drivers may choose rental company coverage.
Keep in mind that your personal auto policy covers you only in the U.S. and Canada. If you’re renting a car in another country, you may be able to obtain insurance from sources such as the rental company, a travel insurance agent, or a local provider. Your credit card company may also offer some level of coverage in foreign countries.
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