Most people know that if you have car insurance, that insurance in most cases will cover you if you go to rent a car in the United States.
But what if you need to rent a car and you don’t already have insurance? Is it even possible to rent a car without insurance?
In this article we’ll look at some factors to consider if you need to rent a car without already having coverage.
Can I rent a car without car insurance?
The simple answer to this question is “yes.” You can rent a car without having car insurance. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why rental car companies offer their own insurance in the first place.
The thing is, rental cars are automatically insured — but only at the bare minimum requirements. Rental car companies offer supplemental insurance on top of that so that you can protect yourself in case of an accident.
Normally, if you own a vehicle and carry insurance on it, it doesn’t make sense to spend the extra money (up to $40 a day) to be covered by the rental car company’s insurance, since you’re already covered by your own.
But if you don’t already have your own insurance, you may need to buy some from the rental agency.
3 things to consider before buying rental car insurance
Before you buy car insurance from the rental agency, you should ask yourself three questions:
- What does the rental car company’s insurance cover? Most rental companies will only automatically cover the state minimum required liability insurance — but you need to ask. Requirements may differ slightly in some states.
- Am I already covered by another policy? If you live with your family, their regular auto insurance policy may already cover you. Also, if you have health insurance through your job (or again, your family) you likely already have insurance that covers at least you in an accident in which you’re injured. In some cases, travel insurance may cover rental cars as well.
- Does my credit card offer car rental insurance? Many credit cards offer car rental insurance as a perk. To take advantage of that coverage, you have to use the card for the rental. Find out exactly what’s covered and what the exclusions are by calling your credit card company before you rent.
The 4 primary types of coverage for rental cars
If you decide that you do need to purchase coverage from the rental agency, you should know that rental car companies usually present four options of coverage. They are:
- Collision Damage Waiver — waives damages in the event of a wreck or if the vehicle is stolen.
- Supplemental Liability Protection — protects others in accidents you may cause
- Personal Accident Insurance — covers you and your passengers.
- Personal Effects Coverage — reimburses you for personal items stolen out of the rental car.
Because liability-only insurance isn’t enough to safely cover your rental if it incurs damage, you’ll likely need some kind of combination of liability and collision coverage for peace of mind.
If you and your passengers have medical insurance, personal insurance is an option, but probably not necessary.
Personal effects coverage is entirely optional depending on how concerned you are about things being stolen from your vehicle (you should never leave items of value in an unattended vehicle anyway).
Though it’s possible to rent a car without already having car insurance, you will want to make sure you’re covered one way or another.
Whether you buy rental car insurance from the company you rent the car from, are covered by your family’s policy or take advantage of the coverage offered by your credit card, it’s important to know exactly what’s covered and for how much.
That’s the only way to make sure you don’t end up in a tough situation if you happen to be in an accident in your rental car.
More Clark.com stories you might enjoy:
- Here are the best and worst auto insurance companies
- How to get a cheap rental car — Clark Howard style!
- Buying gas from one of these stations does a car good