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Ask the Car Insurance Expert

I have complete auto insurance coverage in Texas. I will rent a car in Las Vegas, Nev., for a week. Do I need to purchase the insurance from the car rental company, or does my Texas insurance cover me?

As long as you're using the car for pleasure and not for business, your car insurance in Texas would apply to the rental car in Nevada.

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Before you go on your trip, though, call your insurance agent to double check how much coverage you have, and contact your credit card company to see what kind of rental car insurance it might offer. Many credit card companies offer free rental car insurance, but the coverage varies widely. Get the details in writing.

Insurance is regulated by states, so coverage options vary from state-to-state, but rental car companies typically offer the following types of insurance coverage, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.):

  • Collision damage waiver. Your financial responsibility is waived if the rental car is damaged or stolen. It's a good idea to buy the waiver if you don't have collision and comprehensive coverage on your own policy. Collision covers damage to your car caused by a traffic accident, and comprehensive covers losses caused by factors other than traffic accidents, such as vandalism, theft, natural disasters and collisions with animals. Both types of coverage are optional. If you don't have them on your policy and decline purchasing the rental car insurance, you'd have to pay out-of-pocket for repairing or replacing the rented vehicle if you were in an accident or the vehicle was stolen.
  • Liability insurance. If you cause an accident, this coverage pays for others' property damage and injuries. You can forgo the rental car insurance if your policy provides sufficient coverage to protect your financial assets.
  • Personal accident insurance. Medical bills and ambulance costs for you and your passengers are paid if you're in an accident. You may not need the coverage if you already have personal injury protection coverage on your car insurance policy or if have health insurance.
  • Personal effects coverage. Belongings in your car are insured against theft with this coverage. You may not need it if you have home insurance or renters insurance, which protects personal belongings in your car, I.I.I. says.

For more, see Rental car insurance: The basics.

Last updated: Jun. 13, 2011
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