Do I Need Insurance to Rent a Car?

You don't need insurance to rent a car. If you don't have insurance, you may need to buy it from the rental company.

You don’t need car insurance to rent a car. If you don’t have personal auto insurance, the rental car company should have insurance options. Plus, many credit card companies offer auto insurance if you pay for the rental with a credit card. If you already have car insurance, your coverage will typically extend to your rental car.

No matter how you end up insuring your rental car, it’s important to know that you have several options, and that you don’t need proof of insurance to rent a car. This article includes everything you need to know about these options, including:

Should I get car insurance from the car rental company?

You may want to purchase rental car insurance from the car rental company if:

  • You don’t have your own car insurance
  • Rental insurance isn’t included with your credit card

You don’t need to show proof of car insurance when renting a car. If you have your own car insurance, it should extend to the rental vehicle, and you don’t need to purchase additional coverage.

Renting a car with your personal auto insurance

Drivers who have their own car insurance probably don’t need to purchase additional coverage for a rental vehicle. That’s because most personal policies extend to rental cars.

Your personal coverage limits and deductibles will apply to your rental car. Plus, if you have rental car insurance through your credit card, you can use it as secondary insurance.

Since your personal insurance likely covers your rental, you probably won’t need to purchase additional insurance at the counter. One caveat is that personal insurance may only extend to a rental car if you're renting for personal reasons — nothing business-related. You should check with your insurer if you’re renting a car for business.

Renting a car without your own car insurance

As mentioned above, it’s not necessary to have car insurance to rent a car. First, check with your credit card company to see if your credit card includes rental car insurance. Usually, the car rental has to be under your name, and you need to pay with the credit card for coverage to apply. If coverage through your credit card is limited or can’t be used as primary insurance, you may want to purchase additional coverage from the rental car company.

Adding insurance at the counter may be more expensive, but you’ll probably want to get more than just the liability insurance carried by the rental car company. Just make sure you don’t already have the same coverage before purchasing it at the counter.

Coverage options offered by rental car companies

These are the standard insurance options that rental car companies usually offer and how they’re similar to coverage types you may see on your personal policy:

Rental car insurance coverages
Coverage type from rental company Similar to...
Collision damage waiver (CDW) or loss-damage waiver (LDW) Collision and comprehensive insurance
Supplemental liability insurance Liability insurance
Personal accident insurance Personal injury protection
Personal effects coverage Homeowners or renters insurance

Collision damage waiver (CDW) or loss-damage waiver (LDW)

Although not technically considered insurance, the CDW or LDW helps to cover costs if your rental car is damaged or stolen. If you have comprehensive and collision coverages on your personal car insurance, they generally extend to your rental car.

Supplemental liability insurance

This pays for any damage you cause to others’ vehicles and/or property. It works as an add-on to any existing liability insurance you have (for example, from your own auto insurance) to boost your coverage limit. If you have minimal or no liability coverage, it may be a good idea to purchase this add-on. Enterprise lists this coverage as averaging between $11 and $18 per day, depending on where you’re renting.

Personal accident insurance

Personal accident insurance covers the cost of medical expenses for you and your passengers in case of an accident. Drivers with personal injury protection or health insurance can probably skip this coverage. Enterprise lists this coverage as averaging between $5 and $13 per day.

Personal effects coverage

This covers the cost of any items stolen from your rental car up to a certain amount. If you have homeowners or renters insurance, your possessions should be covered — even in a rental car — and you don’t need to purchase this add-on.

Bottom line

You don’t need proof of insurance to rent a car. If you already have a car insurance policy, your coverage will likely extend to your rental car. Even if you don’t have car insurance but your credit card includes rental car insurance, you probably don’t need to buy insurance at the desk.

However, if you can’t use your credit card rental car insurance as primary coverage, you don’t have your own auto insurance policy or you feel like your coverage limits aren’t high enough, it may be a good idea to purchase add-on coverage from the rental car company.

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