Do You Need Rental Car Insurance When You Travel?

If you’ve ever rented a car, you know firsthand how bewildering the experience can be. The rental car company give you a daily rate, but there always seems to be hidden fees cloaked in ambiguous terms (what is a ‘vehicle license recovery fee,’ anyway?). Then, there’s the car insurance. Do you actually need it when you’re already paying for insurance on the vehicle that you own?

Do You Need Rental Car Insurance When You Travel?

From your existing car insurance coverage to getting coverage through your credit card company, let’s explore the options available to you – a sure-fire way to prevent the rental car companies from wringing you dry.

Will I be covered by my existing car insurance policy?

First things first: will your existing car insurance policy cover your rental car? It might. Check your policy to find out which coverages extend to your rental car before getting up to the counter. That way, you can confidently add or decline the rental car insurance when you’re put on-the-spot by a pushy rental car agent. Do keep in mind that rental cars may be covered under your car insurance policy for personal use only – that means if you’re using the rental car for business or commercial uses, your insurance may not cover it.

Will my credit card company provide rental car coverage?

If you’re planning on using a credit card to pay for your rental, you may be covered by the credit card company. Check with your credit card company to find out what additional rental car coverage is provided. All four major credit card companies (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover) provide some sort of rental car coverage.

To ensure that you’re covered, you must pay for the entire rental car bill on your credit card and decline any supplemental insurance offered by the rental car company. This is key – if you sign up for the supplemental coverage, your credit card company will not cover you. Also, your credit card company will not cover your rental car in some popular destinations, including: Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica and Australia. Again, to avoid frustration and confusion, be sure you have all the answers on what is covered and what isn’t before you get up to the rental car counter.

When should I opt-in for rental car insurance, then?

Ah, yes. There are a handful of situations where opting into rental car insurance just makes sense:

  • You’re traveling for business: As previously mentioned, if you’re using the rental car for business or commercial purposes, you likely may not be covered through your existing policy.
  • You don’t have car insurance (or you have the bare minimum): If:
    • a) you don’t have car insurance,
    • b) you have very high deductibles, or
    • c) you don’t have comprehensive and/or collision coverage,

    you’ll probably want to think about at least opting for the rental company’s loss damage waiver. If you have no car insurance at all, you’ll also need to spring for supplemental liability.

  • You’re traveling abroad to a destination that’s not covered: If you’re traveling internationally, chances are that your car insurance provider won’t cover your rental car. Again, popular international destinations, such as Italy, Australia, Ireland, Israel, and Jamaica are not eligible for rental car coverage through your credit card company.
  • You’re worried about an incident affecting your existing car insurance premiums: If you’re worried about getting into an accident in the rental car and concerned your car insurance premiums will go up, get the rental car insurance. This way, you’ll still be covered and you’ll have peace of mind knowing your existing car insurance rate won’t skyrocket.

Remember – rental car companies are counting on you to not do your homework. Show up to the counter prepared and know when to opt-in and when to decline the rental car insurance coverage (those agents can be pushy!). If you’re already a Metromile customer, most Metromile policy coverages do transfer to the rental vehicle. There is no need to plug the Pulse device into the rental vehicle as you won’t be charged for mileage while driving the rental vehicle. Be sure to consult your policy contract or feel free to contact us if you have any questions about your coverage. If you’re not yet a Metromile customer, click here to get a free quote today to find out how much you could be saving! Be safe out there and see you on the roads!

Julianne Cronin is a Bay Area freelance writer, content creator, and founder/editor of the women’s lifestyle site, The Wink. You can find her working on her capsule wardrobe, collecting cacti, and trying out the latest beauty products on Instagram