Does My Auto Insurance Cover Me in a Rental Car?

Whether you're taking a vacation or using a loaner vehicle from your regular car's repair shop, you'll need to procure some form of car insurance for your rental car. Unfortunately, your auto insurance provider may not provide much direction on this matter. In general, American auto insurers provide surprisingly little rental-related guidance to their policyholders. For folks who regularly use rental cars, this can be downright frustrating. Before you go on a trip or agree to accept a rental car from an auto-repair shop, be sure to talk to your insurance company about your coverage options.

If you regularly travel on business, it's likely that your employer will pick up the tab for your rental car. If this is the case, you'll need to procure vehicle insurance through your rental car company. Unless the company for which you work is particularly generous with its business travelers, it probably won't pay to insure your rental vehicle. Unfortunately, few personal auto insurance policies provide coverage for vehicles that their policyholders don't rent on their own.

As such, the fact that your employer is paying for your rental car may make it difficult for you to obtain full coverage on it. While you'll still be protected against injury-related lawsuits and property damage claims through your rental car company's own insurer, you'll be held personally liable for any damage that you cause to the vehicle. This loophole has caught many business travelers by surprise. In order to circumvent it, you'll need to purchase supplemental vehicle insurance from your rental car company. This could add a significant premium to the total cost of your rental.

If you're traveling for pleasure or renting a car in another capacity, this consideration will be irrelevant. However, you may still need to purchase supplemental insurance from your rental car company. Although there's no hard-and-fast way to determine whether your auto insurance policy covers you in the event of a rental-car accident, you should still read your policy closely. It may explicitly state that it covers rented or "non-owned" cars. If this is the case, you should feel free to file an insurance claim for your rental car.

On the other hand, your policy might not say anything about "non-owned" vehicles. If this is the case, you should assume that your rented vehicles aren't covered by your policy. If you get into an accident while driving a rental car, you may need to pay for its repair costs out of your own pocket.

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