Do I need car rental insurance if I rent a car overseas?

Renting a car when traveling internationally is more complicated (and often riskier) than renting a car in the United States. Purchasing travel rental car insurance is highly recommended to protect yourself against unforeseen incidents or accidents.

When you’re in your hometown doing everyday tasks like driving to work, running errands, or meeting up with friends and family, you undoubtedly have car insurance. After all, not only is auto insurance legally required in many states, but there are big financial implications if you’re involved in a collision.

The same goes when you rent a car for a vacation within the United States. Whether you opt for additional coverage through the rental car company or simply count on your own car insurance policy to protect you, car rental coverage in the United States is pretty straightforward.

But when you’re traveling internationally and road-tripping in a rental car, you should always be sure your travel insurance plan includes rental car coverage. After all, you’ll be driving in an unfamiliar location, in a vehicle you’re not used to driving. You will also be traveling in a country where traffic laws may be different, and you may even be driving on the other side of the road!

How does international auto rental car insurance work?

Typically an optional add-on to a general travel insurance policy, rental car insurance covers damage to the vehicle you’ve rented, from the time you get the keys to your rental until you turn it back in to the rental company. This is sometimes referred to as a collision damage waiver.

With battleface insurance, your rental vehicle damage coverage will reimburse you up to a maximum amount noted in your policy for many kinds of unexpected events, including:

  • Collision
  • Vandalism
  • Windstorm
  • Fire
  • Hail
  • Flood

It also may cover you for any other causes beyond your control while the rental vehicle is in your possession, such as if the vehicle is stolen.

Traveling with a friend? Your travel insurance plan covers both you and your traveling companion, assuming you are both licensed drivers and are listed on the rental agreement. Keep in mind that rental vehicle coverage may not be available in all states.

Are there any exclusions I should consider?

There are typically some coverage exclusions you should be aware of. First, most major travel insurance plans won’t cover rentals of heavy-duty trucks, campers, trailers, off-road vehicles, motor bikes, motorcycles, RVs, or exotic vehicles.

You also won’t be covered if you violate your rental agreement, are driving under the influence, if you’re grossly negligent, or if you break local traffic laws, such as exceeding the speed limit, driving recklessly, or driving under the influence.

Every policy is different, so be sure to check with your insurance company so you’ll know exactly what’s covered and what isn’t. And keep in mind, no matter what happens, be sure to report any incident to the proper local authorities and your rental car company.

Will my regular car insurance cover me while traveling?

If you rent a vehicle outside of the United States, your regular car insurance company won’t usually cover you. That’s why it’s so important to have rental car coverage as part of your travel insurance policy.

After all, if your rental car is damaged or stolen or, even worse, if you are involved in an accident while traveling internationally, you could be on the hook for a lot of costs.

What if I’m injured while driving a rental car?

Rental car insurance policies are designed to protect you from expensive repair or replacement costs if you get in an accident while driving a rental car overseas, or if the vehicle is otherwise damaged or stolen.

But what if, in addition to vehicle damage, you are injured in a wreck?

That’s when you’ll be glad you had general travel medical insurance.

With battleface travel insurance, you can add on a travel medical package that provides primary medical coverage up to $500,000 (maximum amount varies depending on where you live.) You can also choose emergency evacuation and repatriation of remains coverage of up to $1 million, in case you are severely injured in a car accident and require medical evacuation, or—in the ultimate worst-case scenario​​—your family has to transport your remains home.

If your pet travels with you and is injured in a wreck, you can even choose a pet medical coverage plan which will pay for medical treatment in the case of an accident.

If an accident does occur, try to stay calm and document everything, as you would if the accident occured closer to home. Photographs, police reports, and witness statements are all important  items to collect as part of the claims process and will help to expedite the processing of your claim.

Still have a question?

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