Rental car insurance is one of those things I hate spending money on.
It’s so tempting to just opt out of the coverage offered at the rental counter and hope for the best. But if the worst happens, I know I’d really regret not buying the policy.
Sometimes you need the insurance, sometimes you don’t. I break down exactly when to get rental car insurance below.
But let’s assume you need some. What are the best options?
The 4 Best Rental Car Insurance Companies
Buying rental car insurance at the counter can cost anywhere from $10 to $30 per day, so a stand-alone policy might be a cheaper option. Here are a few to consider.
Bonzah provides up to $35,000 of coverage for collision, theft, vandalism, or other damage to a rental car with no deductible. It also offers up to $1 million in supplemental liability insurance.
Other benefits include:
- Up to $500 for damage or theft of your baggage and personal items (including your passport or visa), subject to a maximum of $250 per item
- Optional roadside assistance if you’re traveling more than 100 miles away from home. Roadside assistance covers towing, battery services, flat tire assistance; fuel, oil, or water delivery service; lock-out assistance, and collision assistance.
To qualify for Bonzah coverage, you must be age 21 or older and possess a valid driver’s license.
Cost: Starts at $7.99 per day
Insure My Rental Car
Insure My Rental Car offers up to $100,000 of rental car coverage for damage or theft with no deductible. You can choose between a daily policy that covers you on a per-trip basis, or an annual policy if you rent cars frequently. However, if you select a yearly plan, no single car rental period can be more than 31 days.
When you complete a quote form online, Insure My Rental Car may present other coverage options, such as roadside assistance and personal effects coverage.
Insurance My Rental Car is currently not available to residents of Iowa, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington.
Cost: Starting at $6 per day for daily coverage
Sure provides up to $100,000 of coverage due to theft or damage coverage to a rental car. The coverage also covers your personal effects in the car.
Other benefits include:
- Flat tire coverage
- Coverage for the cost of draining and cleaning the fuel tank or accidental damage caused by driving with the wrong fuel
- Lost key reimbursement
- Towing charges
Cost: Starting at $7.99 per day
Allianz’s Rental Car Damage Protector provides up to $40,000 of coverage for collision, theft, or damage.
Other benefits include:
- Up to $1,000 for loss, damage or theft of baggage and person effects
- Up to $1,000 of trip interruption coverage to reimburse you for the unused, non-refundable portion of your trip and increased transportation costs if you have to return home from your trip early
- 24-hour assistance for all kinds of travel emergencies, including locating local medical or legal assistance, arranging to send messages home, helped with miss flight connections, and lost or stolen travel documents
Cost: $9 per day ($7 per day for Florida residents)
Do You Need to Buy Rental Car Insurance?
Before renting a car, there are two places you might want to check to see if your rental car is already covered.
Your car insurance policy
If you own a car, you’re required to have auto liability insurance by state law. Liability insurance helps cover medical costs and property damage if you’re at fault in a crash. Some policies extend that coverage to when you’re driving a rental car.
But are your liability limits high enough? Each state has its own minimum liability limits, which might not be enough if you’re involved in a major accident. For example, Arizona only requires drivers to carry coverage of 15/30/10. In insurance-speak, this translates to bodily injury coverage of $30,000 for all people injured in an accident, subject to a limit of $15,000 per individual, and $10,000 coverage for property damage. If you’re at fault in a fatal accident or one that involves a very expensive vehicle, that might not be enough.
Another component of auto insurance policies is comprehensive and collision coverage. Comprehensive coverage insures the car against non-driving related damage, such as fire, theft, or vandalism. Collision coverage pays for damage to your vehicle if you’re involved in a crash.
Some people – especially those with old or inexpensive cars – don’t carry comprehensive and collision coverage. In that case, you’re responsible for covering any damage to your vehicle out of your own pocket.
Ask your insurance agent or read through your auto insurance policy’s terms and conditions to see whether liability, comprehensive, and collision coverage extends to a rental car. If it does, and your limits are adequate, you can decline the insurance coverage offered at the rental counter and save some money.
Your credit card benefits
Many of our favorite credit cards offer some rental car insurance as a fringe benefit, as long as you pay for the rental with that card.
Rental car benefits vary by company and by card. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card provides reimbursement for damage due to collision or theft as long as the rental period is 31 days or less. It doesn’t cover any bodily injury or property damage, so you may be able to decline the rental car company’s collision insurance. However, you’ ll still need liability coverage. Call your credit card company or read through the guide to card benefits to find out what’s covered before you rent a car.
If you don’t have built-in rental car coverage, you can still purchase stand-alone rental car insurance coverage. By going with stand-alone coverage, you’ll save money compared to buying insurance with the rental company.
How to Choose The Best Rental Car Insurance
The best rental car insurance will depend on your situation. If you’re checking out rental car insurance options, here are a few features or considerations to keep in mind.
Coverage should be your top priority since an insurance policy is only as good as the peace of mind it offers.
Ideally, your rental car insurance policy will cover both liability and damage to the rental car itself. Many coverage options, including those available through most credit cards, only cover damage to the vehicle. They don’t cover injuries to another person or damage to property other than the rental car.
Also, consider the limits. For example, Bonzah only covers up to $35,000 of damage to a rental car. That’s probably enough if you’re renting a standard car. However, if you’re renting a sports car or a luxury vehicle, $35,000 may not be enough to cover a major accident.
What else does the policy cover? Many rental car insurance policies include other benefits, such as coverage for your personal effects and roadside assistance. Others offer those features for an additional cost.
Those benefits may or may not be important to you. Say you’re on a business trip and carrying your laptop and other expensive equipment. It might be nice to know your insurance company will replace it if the rental car is stolen.
Likewise, if your trip involves a long road trip, you might want roadside assistance coverage if the car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. If these coverages aren’t included, consider whether they’re worth the extra cost of adding them on.
Of course, we have to think about the cost. The whole point of purchasing stand-alone rental car insurance is to avoid overpaying for coverage at the rental car counter.
All of the options we listed above offer basic coverage at a price far below the average cost of buying coverage directly from the rental car company. Still, prices can change, and optional features can add up quickly.
Be sure to shop around for the best coverage at the best price and compare it to what you’d pay for the same coverage from the rental car company.
Ease of use
How easy is it to get coverage?
Bonzah, Insure My Rental Car, and Allianz all offer instant quotes online and allow you to purchase the coverage online. However, Sure asks for your name, phone number, email, and address before showing you a price. Personally, I prefer getting a quote before handing over my contact information and potentially opening myself up to unwanted phone calls and emails.
If you prefer a more personal touch over the convenience of booking online, that might factor into your decision.
Keep in mind, all stand-alone insurers require that you purchase coverage before taking possession of a rental vehicle. Trying to buy coverage after picking up your rental car will invalidate the policy.
Should you get rental car insurance?
Don’t get pressured into overpaying for insurance at the rental car counter, or worse, decline coverage and wind up responsible for covering damage to the vehicle out of your own pocket. Do you research ahead of time so you can confidently answer the question, “Do you want to add on insurance?” when you’re standing at the airport counter.
First, check your normal car insurance and credit cards to see if you have enough coverage already.
If not, I’d get one of the options above to save money during your next trip.