Finding the Best Rental Car Insurance

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It doesn’t fail. When you arrive at the counter to pick up your rental car, the representative asks if you want to purchase insurance coverage. You have to make a decision. If your regular auto insurance policy covers you when you drive a rental, you can turn the rental company’s option down, but then you have to file a claim against your own policy if anything happens to the car. Your credit card might offer you some protection, but it may be only secondary coverage or only be valid in certain areas. You can accept the rental car agency’s protection, but the daily rates it charges you can easily double your bill.

Collision insurance isn’t optional when you rent a car. Accidents happen, and the rental car company can make you pay for the damage to the vehicle and the money the company loses while the car is in the shop. The last thing you want to deal with is the headache of paying for these repairs and incurring charges out of pocket. Finding the right rental car insurance requires a basic understanding of the types of coverage insurance companies offer and some research into the different ways you can acquire it. Take a look at some credit cards and insurance companies that offer rental car insurance so you understand your options the next time you step up to the rental agency counter.

Types of Rental Car Insurance

Car rental agencies offer four basic types of insurance designed to protect the rental, you, your passengers and all of your belongings inside the vehicle during the rental period. The types of coverage include the following:

  • Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) that covers damage to the vehicle caused by a collision, theft or vandalism
  • Supplemental Liability Insurance (SLI) that pays for damage you do to another person or his or her property while driving the rental car
  • Personal Accident Insurance (PAI) that pays for medical expenses you or your passengers incur during the rental period
  • Personal Effects Insurance (PEI) that reimburses you for damage to your personal belongings inside the car

Most rental car agencies require Collision Damage Waiver and Supplemental Liability Insurance as basic coverage, and they typically ask you for proof of coverage if you decline what they offer. Personal Accident Insurance is optional coverage, and you don’t need it if you already have a health insurance policy that pays for hospital stays and visits to the doctor. Personal Effect Insurance is also optional coverage, but you may want to consider it if you plan to travel with electronic devices or other important items that are too costly to replace out of pocket.

Credit Cards Offering Rental Car Insurance

There are credit cards that offer rental car insurance, and you don’t have to pay extra charges to take advantage of it. If you plan to use this coverage, make sure you understand the credit card company’s rules. For example, most credit cards require you to use the card for the entire cost of the rental. If you pay for a deposit on the rental with one card and use another to pay the balance at the counter, you may be ineligible for the service. The credit card company also may have restrictions on the type of car and regions covered. Many of them exclude the following vehicles from coverage:

  • Exotic makes like Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Bentley, Jaguar, Lexus and Mercedes
  • Performance vehicles including sports cars like Corvette Stingray, Lamborghini, Maserati, Mustang GT and Porsche
  • Passenger vans that have seats for more than eight people or that you use for commercial purposes
  • Antique cars and trucks more than 20 years old

Other terms to consider are the type of policy the card offers and location restrictions. Some cards only offer secondary insurance that pays for expenses your regular auto insurance policy doesn’t cover, including the deductible. Neglecting to get primary coverage is a violation of the credit card agreement, so the company doesn’t pay for any part of the claim. Other cards provide insurance only when you travel to other countries or explicitly list countries where the coverage isn’t valid.

Insurance Companies that Offer the Top Rental Car Insurance

If you don’t have a credit card with rental car coverage, you can purchase a policy from an insurance company that offers rental car insurance. If you don’t own a vehicle or have easy access to one, you may qualify for a non-owner policy. This special type of insurance covers you as a driver in any car you drive.

Even if you have a credit card, the coverage may not extend to certain regions in the world. Some cards set limits for the length of time they cover you, and if you plan to spend an extended amount of time driving a rental, you need to look elsewhere. In this situation, you can buy a temporary policy from an insurance company that specializes in travel insurance. These companies cater to travelers and offer a variety of insurance to protect you and your belongings as you globetrot.


Geico sells a non-owner liability policy if you need to drive vehicles you don’t own. This is a special type of liability insurance assigned to you instead of to a specific vehicle. A non-owner policy gives you the freedom to decline the car rental agency’s coverage, which can lead to significant savings if you rent vehicles frequently. The company offers this special policy if you don’t currently own a vehicle and don’t live with someone who owns a vehicle. To learn more about options for Geico rental car insurance, speak with a company representative who can explain the coverage and its requirements.


Enterprise car rental insurance provides two types of protection for a daily charge during the duration of the rental. Personal Accident Insurance and Personal Effects Insurance pay for accidental death and medical expenses (including ambulance charges) you incur as the result of an accident. It also protects your personal belongings and those of your immediate family members traveling with you. This supplemental policy pays a benefit even if you have other insurance. Enterprise also has Supplemental Liability Protection that gives you up to $1 million of liability protection against third-party liability claims.

Insure My Rental Car

Insure My Rental Car provides collision damage and loss damage waivers if you drive a rental car at home or abroad. The company also has insurance options for non-U.S. residents traveling to the United States. You can purchase up to $100,000 worth of coverage for daily rentals and single trips or annual plans. Insure My Rental Car isn’t available to residents of Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Massachusetts, Vermont or Washington, but residents of other states can use the coverage when they visit those states. For example, if you live in Vermont, you don’t qualify for any plan. If you live in New Hampshire and want to rent a car in Vermont, you can do so.

Allianz Global Assistance

Underwritten by BCS Insurance Company, Allianz Global Assistance has plans that provide primary coverage for collision, loss and damage for rental cars up to $40,000. Policies issued through Allianz Global cover the following damages to your rental vehicle:

  • Broken windshield caused by falling debris
  • Collision with an animal on the road
  • Collision with an object on the road or in a parking lot, including a tree, power pole or guardrail
  • Collision with another vehicle on the road or in a parking lot
  • Damage from vandalism
  • Damage to tires
  • Damage or destruction from fire
  • Theft

In addition, the company offers 24-hour emergency assistance. Its multilingual staff can help you locate medical and legal professionals or relay a message to someone for you. Some plans include a provision for existing medical coverage, which helps pay for medical expenses even if you already have symptoms of an illness.

Protect Your Bubble

Based in the United Kingdom, Protect Your Bubble offers protection plans for electronic devices, appliances, rental cars, bicycles and pets. The company expanded operations to the United States and Brazil, but as of August 1, 2016, it stopped selling plans to U.S. residents. It still honors already-purchased plans, so you can continue to enjoy the coverage if you’re an existing customer with a current policy.


The next time you go to rent a car, make sure you’re covered before you arrive at the rental counter so you don’t have to pay extra for the agency’s coverage. Take advantage of the rental car insurance benefit your credit cards offer as long as it meets your needs, or sign up for a temporary policy with a traditional insurance company. Review the terms carefully to verify you meet the eligibility requirements and have all the coverage you need for your rental. You can then decline the agency’s policy if you choose and drive with the comfort of knowing you’re prepared and protected.

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Allison Hache
Allison Hache is a freelance writer based in south Florida. By day she writes curriculum and coaches teachers new to public education. At night she writes about marketing, real estate and personal finance for U.S. and European markets.

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