Chris Tepedino is a feature writer that has written extensively about car insurance for numerous websites. He has a college degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and has experience reporting, research investigative pieces…

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Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states…

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Reviewed byRachael Brennan
Licensed Insurance Agent for 14 Years

UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020

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If you’ve ever rented a car, then you’ve probably received the sales pitch about a how you need to buy rental car insurance from the agency while you are borrowing their vehicle. Maybe you’ve purchased it before, or maybe you assumed it was a scam to rip you off so that they could make more money. Well, if you’re in the latter group, you may be right. Drivers have many different options when it comes to insurance coverage and rental cars. And most of those options are actually more affordable than purchasing rental car insurance from the company. As a matter of fact, there are few different common situations in which you may already have plenty of coverage before anyone puts the keys to your rental in your hand. Such as…

If You Have a Good Credit Card, Then You Already Have Rental Car Insurance

As you can see in the chart below, many credit cards have rental car insurance options that customers like you can take advantage of. But keep in mind two very important facts: number one, this type of insurance is liability only. It won’t protect you from theft, or damage to the vehicle that would normally be covered under Collision or Comprehensive coverage. Number two, this type of insurance won’t protect you from any lawsuits that may be filed against you after your liability coverage is maxed out.

Credit Card CompanyCredit Cars with Coverage BenefitsCoverage LimitsCoverage DurationClaim Submission Grace Period
VisaAll$50k15/31 Days90 Days
American ExpressAll$50k/$75k30 Days180 Days
MastercardGold, Platinum, World, World Elite$50k15 Days180 Days

It’s also worth noting that credit card insurance for a rental vehicle usually covers you for no longer than 30 days – and in some cases, it barely covers you for more than 2 weeks. If you plan on renting a car for longer than that, you may need to look for additional options.

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If You Have Full Coverage Auto Insurance, Then You Are Already Protected

If you have full coverage auto insurance on the vehicle or vehicles you currently own, then the odds are you are protected from almost every bad scenario that could happen to your rental vehicle. However, if your coverage limits are less than the damages incurred if something goes wrong while you are renting that vehicle, you may be in for some out-of-pocket expenses.

Lots of car rental companies offer temporary insurance which protects you in the event that your personal belongings are stolen from your rental car. However, if you have homeowners or renters insurance, those policies will usually cover stolen items – even if they’re stolen from your vehicle as opposed to your residence. But these types of coverages usually have limits, especially for valuable or rare items, so you’ll need to check with your insurance agent to make sure that you have adequate financial coverage.

Average Homeowners Insurance Premiums Legend: Average Homeowners Insurance Premium Idaho Florida Oregon Louisiana Utah Texas Wisconsin Mississippi 150 300 450 600 750 900 1050 1200 1350 1500 1650 1800 $518 $1933 $559 $1672 $563 $1578 $592 $1409

Since liability insurance is mandatory in practically every state in order to drive legally, then your current insurance policy will cover you in the event that your rental car accident is deemed your fault. However, keep in mind that if the damages from the accident cost more than the coverage limits on your liability policy, you will be legally responsible for any extra expenses. Rental car liability insurance can protect you for up to a million dollars in damages; most car insurance policies usually only offer up to $300,000 of liability coverage. And most drivers usually choose less coverage than that, because state minimums range from $10,000 to $25,000 in most areas. So that’s something to keep in mind the next time you rent a car.

Minimum Liability Premiums (Average) Legend: Liability Coverage California Texas Florida New York Pennsylvania 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 130 140 150 160 170 $47 $51 $91 $174 $23

If you have collision and comprehensive coverage on the policy of the vehicle you own, there’s a good chance your insurance company may extend that coverage to any rental car that suffers damage from an act of nature or from a collision that is not your fault. Be sure to talk to your insurance agent just to double-check and make sure that your plan offers you that luxury.

Liability vs Comprehensive Policy Premiums Legend: Liability Coverage Comprehensive Coverage California Texas Florida New York Pennsylvania 30 60 90 120 150 180 210 240 270 300 330 360 $47 $121 $51 $128 $91 $169 $174 $389 $23 $69

Personal injury protection covers medical expenses that you might need to pay if you get into an accident. But personal injury protection is only mandatory in no-fault states; in other areas, it’s easier for your insurance companies to determine who pays for your medical expenses based on who was at fault. Either way, if you live in a state where personal injury protection coverage is sold, it should extend to any accidents that happened while you are driving a rental car. Again, though, it’s best to double-check with your insurance agency just to make sure.

What You May End up Paying If You Buy Rental Car Insurance

Rental car companies are in business to make money, period. They also want to protect their business, and their business assets, from financial ruin. They take out millions of dollars of insurance coverage to protect their fleet, and if they can recoup those costs while charging a markup so that they can profit, they will do so. But if you’re already protected by the other forms of insurance that you’re already paying for, you could be throwing money out the window. Just look at how much it would cost to purchase rental car insurance from the rental car agency if you’re going to be renting that car for an extended period of time:

5 days15 days30 days

At the end of the day, whether it’s a rental car or a vehicle you own yourself, the best way to save money on your insurance costs as to shop around. Here on our website, you can come here several quotes in a matter of minutes from local insurance companies who are competing for your business. All you need to get started is your ZIP code.