Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Oct 3, 2020

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It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right coverage choices.

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Here's what you need to know...

  • You can purchase insurance from the rental car company. This is your most expensive option
  • You can contact your insurer to make sure you’re covered in a rental car. You can then add any additional coverages temporarily for the duration of your rental
  • Your credit card may offer protection. Make sure you find out exactly what it offers before you decide to count on it
  • The cost for rental car insurance can range from free to $50.

How much does rental car insurance cost?

The cost of rental car insurance will largely depend on if you’re getting that insurance through a rental agency, your own policy, or a credit card. When renting a car, it usually means you will be driving:

  • For a trip
  • For a vacation
  • Because your own vehicle is not available

All of these situations place you in circumstances that are unfamiliar. A new city, a road trip, or simply driving an unknown vehicle can cause you to not be as safe a driver as usual.

This is where rental car insurance comes into play. Take a look at the options and related costs of rental car coverage below, then use our free tool to start comparing car insurance rates today.

Table of Contents

Getting Rental Car Insurance from the Rental Car Agency

Your first option is to get rental car insurance from the rental car agency. Basically, rental car insurance protects you should you be in an accident while driving the rented vehicle.

Do you need rental car insurance? Without the coverage, you will be stuck holding the bill and facing a possible lawsuit from the rental car agency. So every time you rent a car, the contract you sign will ask you if you want to get the rental car insurance.

Driving without coverage is illegal but it is not the responsibility of the car rental agency to make sure that you are covered.

If you decline the insurance from the rental agency you will have to sign a waiver that says you are doing so and that you have coverage through another option. This waiver is legally binding.

Even if you can “get away with it,” driving a rental car without insurance is not a smart idea, especially if you are driving in an unfamiliar setting.

The cost you will pay through a rental car agency depends on how much coverage you get. Coverage typically includes:

  • Collision
  • Theft
  • Bodily injury coverage if you hurt someone with the vehicle
  • Property damage
  • Medical payments

Getting this coverage through a car rental agency will cost you about $140-200 per week. It is very expensive but still better than going without if it is your only option.

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Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap car insurance rates.

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Getting Rental Car Insurance from Your Personal Policy

Before you reserve your rental car, call your personal car insurance company and find out if you are covered in a rental car. In many cases, you will be if you carry comprehensive coverage.

If not, you can add it for a month and then drop it after your trip. However, be sure to find out what is covered, what is not covered, and what your deductible would be if you file a claim. Take all this into consideration before you pick up your rental car.

If you decide to add it to your policy just for a month to cover you while you are on your trip, it will typically cost you $20-30 more than your premium. This is much less than the cost of the insurance through the rental agency.

Make sure when you make this change that it goes into effect before the beginning of your trip. You may also want to consider adding roadside assistance for the duration of your trip.

Getting Rental Car Insurance through Your Credit Card

Another way to get rental car insurance is through your credit card. Most credit cards offer rental car insurance coverage when you put the cost of your rental car on your credit card.

You are covered for rental car insurance, loss, and damage for the duration of your rental car agreement. You do not have to do anything before renting the vehicle. As long as you charge the rental car, you will be covered.

Again, it is important to know what your coverage limits will be and what your deductible, if any will be. There is no cost for this according to the terms of your credit card agreement.

This is obviously the cheapest way to go, however, not all credit cards come with rental car insurance so double-check your policy before you rent.

If you are looking for a credit card that has rental car insurance or a car insurance policy with rental car insurance, you can look online. Comparing prices and quotes online is a great way to save time and money and find the offer you are looking for.

Above all, remember accidents are unpredictable, and being prepared with rental car insurance can save your trip and save you from financial disaster. Make sure you are covered through the rental agency’s insurance, your own personal insurance, or your credit card.

Enter your ZIP below to start comparing car insurance today.

References:

  1. http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/columnist/2015/02/15/rental-car-insurance/23304419/
  2. http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2014/03/should-you-take-the-car-rental-insurance/index.htm
  3. http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2012/06/04/should-you-purchase-rental-car-insurance
  4. http://abcnews.go.com/Business/credit-card-cover-rental-car/story?id=34211176
  5. http://www.marketwatch.com/story/what-your-credit-card-actually-covers-when-you-rent-a-car-2015-07-22