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Can I use my liability insurance for my rental car?

Yes. If you have car insurance, the type of coverage you bought, along with its deductibles, usually applies to rental cars as well. If you cause an accident, your liability insurance will pay for the damage, plus any medical expenses, you cause to someone else. Your liability insurance covers you up to the limits of your policy.

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Assuming you purchased collision and comprehensive coverage as part of your auto insurance policy, both typically apply to any car you rent for personal use. Collision pays for damage to the rental car if you cause an accident, and comprehensive will cover damage caused by factors other than a traffic accident, such as fire, theft, vandalism or collisions with animals. Don't forget you'll still have to pay your deductible if you have to make a claim.

Before you decide whether to buy coverage from the rental car company or use your own insurance, call your insurance agent to find out if your current coverage is sufficient. Your credit card company might also offer you free insurance for rental cars, although you should get the details in writing. Credit card insurance varies widely among companies. Some policies cover only damage to the rental car, while others do not offer personal liability coverage for bodily injury or death claims.

If you don't think you have enough auto liability insurance, you can purchase liability insurance from the rental car company, which will act as the primary liability insurance if you cause an accident.

Rental car companies also offer loss damage waivers and collision damage waivers to take place of your collision and comprehensive insurance. Some waivers require you to pay a deductible. These are technically not insurance products because they're not underwritten or sold by an insurance company. They're worth the money if you've dropped your comprehensive and collision coverage or don't have auto insurance.

Keep in mind, if you purchase rental car insurance, your auto insurance coverage will be considered "excess." In other words, the rental car insurance kicks in first.

For more, see the basics of rental car insurance.



Last updated: Apr. 7, 2011 Redesign Survey