Insurance for Rental Car Damage: Where to Get it and Things to Know

man inspecting damage to his rental car

What happens if you get into an accident with your rental car while on your trip?

We’ll answer that question in just a moment, but first, let’s do one of those camera tricks you see on commercials and rewind from the accident to the moment where you had to choose whether to buy a protection plan that provides coverage for damage to your rental car.

Also read: Top 5 Reasons to Get Travel Insurance

How to Get Damage Insurance Coverage for a Rental Car

So, you’re at the rental car counter, you’re presented with the loss-damage waiver form, and your pen hovers above the form before making a decision.

At this point, you’re thinking of your options, which are:

1. Accept the insurance from the rental car company

The knee-jerk reaction is to think that the insurance from the rental car agency is a rip-off, but it will likely get the job done -- protecting your wallet from those magic dents and scratches that always seem to appear between the time you pick up the car and the time you drive it out of the parking lot.

2. Buy a standalone rental car policy from a company

As more people rely on services like ZipCar for their auto-transportation needs, standalone rental car coverage has become more common. For trips where you don’t have a lot of prepaid travel expenses, this coverage can be a good choice.

3. Rely on your standard auto-insurance policy to cover you

If you're hoping a rental car accident won't impact your regular auto-insurance rates, anything other than your standard car insurance is a good choice.

4. Hope that your credit card has rental car coverage

Many travel credit cards include some level of rental car protection, but only if you used that card to pay for the car. And, the devil’s in the details -- be sure to read the fine print.

5. Remember that you got the Rental Car Damage coverage with your travel insurance plan*

Finally, there’s Rental Car Damage coverage through a travel insurance plan. This coverage is great if you have a lot of prepaid expenses – like airfares, hotels, and excursions – especially if you’re buying travel insurance anyway.

Rental Car Damage coverage can reimburse you up to $25,000 if your rental car is damaged through collision, theft, vandalism, natural disasters or any other cause beyond your control while you’re on your trip. The coverage is available as an extra-cost add-on with Generali's Standard , Preferred plans and included with the Premium plan.

Also read: 7 Questions to Ask to Find the Best Family Travel Insurance

Understand Your Rental Car Damage Insurance Coverage

With any rental car damage insurance, it’s important to see exactly what’s covered and at what level. It’s also helpful to be able to see what the policy covers far in advance – as in, not at the rental car counter. If you can get something from the rental car company 10 days or so in advance, great. If not, you may want to consider alternatives, like travel protection.

Finally, note that even though the car rental company may tell you that you have to buy their insurance, that’s not true. You don’t need their insurance to rent a car. However, a car rental company can refuse to rent a car to you if you don’t buy their insurance or supply adequate proof of insurance coverage.

Also read: How Travel Insurance is Different from Car or Home Insurance

Does All Travel Insurance Include Rental Car Damage Coverage?

Keep in mind not all travel insurance has rental car damage coverage. Some companies may include this as an optional add-on or include it with other plans.  Generali Global Assistance offers travel protection plans with both options.

Does My Personal Car Insurance Cover Rental Cars?

Your personal car insurance might cover rental cars. Remember that it may only be for personal use, not for business purposes. You may need to purchase separate insurance when using a rental car for business. Also, any claims on your personal car insurance might increase your premiums for that insurance.

What Is Covered Under Travel Protection for Rental Car Damage?

Most travel protection plans that include rental car damage coverage may cover damage to the rental car because of collision, theft, vandalism, natural disasters, and more.

Generali Global Assistance’s plans specifically say their Rental Car Damage Coverage is good for “collision, theft, vandalism, windstorm, fire, hail, flood or any cause not in your control, or the car is stolen while in your possession and not recovered.”

And, not only are you insured, but so is your traveling companion, provided you   are both a licensed drivers, and are listed on the rental agreement. Also, in this case, Generali’s Rental Car Damage coverage is primary to other forms of insurance, so it will pay before any other insurance coverage you have.

There are also vehicles that cannot be covered by our plans. These include rentals of trucks, campers, trailers, motor bikes, motorcycles, off-road, all-terrain, or recreational vehicles, vehicles that are older than 20 years, vehicles that have not been manufactured in the past 10 years, vehicles that are rented for commercial purposes, and vehicles that have a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of more than $75,000.

What Happens if Your Rental Car Gets Damaged?

Now, let’s return to that scenario we presented at the outset – you know, where you’re debating whether to buy a plan with rental car damage insurance coverage. Let’s say you decided to go with the Rental Car Damage coverage offered with the Generali Global Assistance plans, and you got into an accident, because... of course.

First, you’ll need to do the basics that you’d do with any car accident, like:

  • Calling 911 or the equivalent;
  • Filing a report with the police;
  • Exchanging insurance information
  • Calling for a tow truck, if you need one;
  • Taking all your stuff out of the rental car; and
  • Taking pictures of everything. It literally costs nothing to snap several dozen pictures of everything from insurance information to car damage to the tow truck’s license plate.

At that point you should report the incident to your rental car company and then submit a claim to Generali to seek reimbursement for either the cost of repairs and rental charges imposed by the rental company while the car’s being repaired, or the car’s actual cash value, whichever is less.

Now that you know all the ways you can get rental car damage protection, be sure to consider travel protection for your next trip with a car rental.

* Rental Car Damage coverage from Generali Global Assistance may not be accepted by all rental car companies and jurisdictions.


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