When it comes time to rent a car, here are two common questions that customers often ask us:

  • Do I need to buy the insurance offered by rental car companies?
  • If I am in a car accident and need to rent a car, am I covered?

Let’s find out the answers.


You’re standing at the rental car counter and the person helping you asks if you want to buy insurance through them. Do you need it?

This is a great question to ask your agent before your next vacation. (After all, no one wants to wonder if they’re covered for getting rear-ended when they could be working on their tan.)

Ultimately, the decision is up to you. There are some advantages to saying yes. Often, getting a rental means you’re driving an unfamiliar vehicle in an unfamiliar area, so the supplemental coverage from the rental car company can give you extra peace of mind.

Before you accept or decline, it’s important to understand how the rental car company’s coverage can (and can’t) kick in. Every rental company handles things differently. Your agent can also explain some important details, like how the rental company might calculate loss of use. You should know what you’d be on the hook to pay after a claim, including the deductible as well as any administrative fees that may apply.

With that in mind, here are a few questions to ask your agent before you plan on renting a car:

  • If I buy the rental company’s coverage, then have a claim – will that prevent me from having to pay a surcharge on my personal auto policy?
  • If I’m in an accident, will the coverage help me pay for a replacement rental car while this one’s in the shop?
  • If I decline the extra coverage, then have a total loss… would the rental company max out my credit card until my personal auto policy pays for it?

Again, the decision is up to you. If you choose to decline at the rental counter, know that your personal auto insurance can kick in to cover you in certain situations while you’re driving your rental. Your auto policy should have you covered for liability claims, but your Agent can tell you for sure. Additionally, if you opted in to have collision and comprehensive coverage, you may also be covered for damage to the rental car.

Auto insurance from Erie Insurance is designed to suitably protect you and your family for incidental use of a car that’s not your own, such as a short-term rental of less than 45 days. The coverage extends to cars in the U.S. or Canada. That said, it’s a good idea to check with an insurance advisor like The Agent Insurance beforehand, since auto policies vary from person to person.

Here are a few questions to ask your agent about insurance and rental car coverage:

Q: When I rent a car for a combined business trip and a personal vacation, am I covered?
A: Your personal auto policy may not cover you, but your employer’s insurance might.

Q: If more than one person is driving the rental car, am I covered?
A: Your auto insurance likely only covers individuals that are on your policy, such as spouse or kids. So, in this scenario, coverage from the rental company could be a good idea.

Q: If my luggage, purse or personal possessions are stolen out of my rental car, am I covered?
A: Maybe. This depends on the details of your individual auto policy. In many cases, personal property may be covered by a homeowners or rental insurance policy, but not by your auto insurance. It may be worth asking an associate from the rental company what their policy is regarding personal property stolen from their vehicles.

Another option to consider: Many credit card companies offer rental car insurance if you pay the rental fee using their card. Just know that this coverage typically only covers physical damage to the rental car, so you’ll still need separate liability coverage. Get in touch with your credit card company to ask for details.

With liability coverage, there are a few things you should consider. Most states have a required minimum amount of liability coverage, which rental car companies are required by law to offer, but that still may not give you enough protection. If you have personal auto insurance and have opted for higher liability limits, you’ll be better protected.

Contact The Agent Insurance Services to help you determine what best meets your needs – (330) 758-3339.

Information provided by Erie Insurance April 2019

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