You need to rent a car. Whether you are renting it for vacation or business, common questions arise. There are two frequent questions that potential renters often wonder at the time of rental.

  • Am I required to buy the insurance offered by a rental car company and if not, do I actually need it?
  • If I am in a crash while driving a rental car, am I covered?

The first step is to check with your own automobile insurance carrier before renting the car to see what your policy would cover. Unfortunately, if you are standing at the rental counter, it may be too late to check your coverage on short notice. However, it is always good advice to at least inquire with your insurance company. Most major automobile insurance carriers have toll free numbers you can call to ask about the coverage you pay for with little hassle. Another option is to check online with your carrier. Knowing what is covered ahead of time will ensure you are prepared at the time of rental.

When booking the rental or standing at the rental counter, you are typically offered insurance through the rental company. In most cases, you probably do not need to purchase the insurance offered through the rental company. Most often, your personal automobile insurance should have you covered for liability claims. If you have collision and comprehensive coverage (again, check this with your own insurance company in advance), your personal insurance should cover any damage to the rental car. Keep in mind, deductibles would still apply the same as they would in your own personal vehicle.

It is important to know there are many variables that can affect the insurance coverage for a rental vehicle, including the state in which you rent the vehicle. Typically, car rental companies are only required to offer you the state minimum coverage which may not be enough to protect you and your family. Another factor is whether you are renting the car for business or leisure purposes. Your personal automobile insurance policy may not cover you, but your employer’s insurance might. Finally, it is important to make sure that every person who will be driving the vehicle is covered under any insurance policy. If an unauthorized driver is involved in a crash, insurance coverage may be denied.

As a good rule of thumb, always check with your personal auto insurance carrier prior to renting a vehicle to know what coverage you have or may need.