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Do I Need Car Insurance to Rent a Car?

Even if you own your own car, that doesn’t mean you won’t face a few situations where you’ll need to rent another vehicle. Perhaps you plan to take an extended vacation and want a car that is better designed for that purpose. Or, maybe your car is in the shop because of a breakdown or wreck. In either case, you’ll need a trusty set of wheels, and a rental car can be the solution. 

Rental vehicles are just as important, valuable and dangerous as any other car. As a result, they need insurance as much as any other car. Still, you might not be certain how you can get the right coverage for it. You might wonder if your present auto insurance will extend benefits to the rental car. 

Generally, you can find your existing auto insurance instrumentally beneficial when it comes to renting a car. However, you can’t just rent a vehicle and assume you have coverage in place. Instead, check with your agent beforehand to make sure you have appropriate benefits available. 

Why do I need auto insurance when renting a car? 
Car insurance is essential for every driver, regardless of whether they are driving their own car or a rented vehicle.

  • Forty-nine states require all drivers to carry minimum levels of auto insurance. It does not matter whether you own the vehicle or not. 

  • If you are at fault for an accident, then you might have to repay the other impacted driver, property owner or pedestrian using liability insurance. Liability coverage, which is an essential part of auto insurance, has no relationship to the vehicle you are driving. 

  • Rented vehicles have just as much value as any other car, and while they are not your personal car, they still could be a financial loss to their owner if you wreck them. 

  • When driving a rental car, your unfamiliarity with the vehicle means you might face higher risks of wrecks. In a rental car, you still need time to adjust to the vehicle’s unique control surfaces, which will take time. 

    Therefore, if you are planning to rent a car, then you should call your auto insurer before you even go to pick up the vehicle. At this time, they can tell you whether your existing auto coverage offers appropriate benefits for the rented car. They will help you get a better idea of whether you actually need the auto insurance that the rental company might offer you. If you don’t have to buy coverage that you don’t need, then you obviously could save money. 

    What auto insurance benefits will cover rental vehicles? 
    Standard car insurance policies will usually offer a degree of continuing coverage even when you drive a rented car. However, all auto insurance companies, even all auto insurance policies, differ. This is another reason why it is essential to talk to your agent before you rent the vehicle. 

    The common benefits that auto insurance policies offer for rentals include:

  • Liability Coverage: You already have liability insurance on your existing policy. This coverage will follow you into the new car. Then, if you cause an at-fault accident, it can cover the costs of property damage or injuries that you cause to others. 

  • Collision & Comprehensive Auto Insurance: If you have physical damage benefits on your existing policy, then they might transfer over to the new car. Therefore, if the vehicle does get damaged in an accident or other hazard, then this policy can still pay. 

  • Rental Car Reimbursement: If you are without your regular car due to a hazard that your auto insurance covers, then your plan might also help you pay for the cost of a rental car. Insurers use different methods to calculate how they will reimburse you, and they will not pay for a rental car unless you lost your primary car in a covered incident. 

    Other benefits like your medical payments coverage or Personal Injury Protection might also be able to travel with you. 

    All the same, there are certain perks that you might be able to get by purchasing the rental car company’s coverage:

  • If the vehicle does sustain damage in a covered incident, the rental company’s policy might provide a damage waiver that frees you from having to pay for the vehicle’s damage yourself. 

  • Some plans offer personal effects coverage that will insure your belongings that are carried within the vehicle. 

  • Rental companies might impose other fees if you wreck their vehicle. However, if you carry their insurance benefits, then these costs might be waived. 

    In many cases, auto insurers partner with rental car agencies to provide services to their existing policyholders. When you use your auto insurer’s preferred rental provider, you can often qualify for discounts, and in many cases, the insurer will waive accident fees even if you do not buy their particular insurance offering. 

    Additionally, consider checking with your credit company to see if they offer rental car coverage. If you book your rental with this card, then you can receive your rental car benefit without having to buy the rental company’s policy.