Do I Need Rental Insurance When Driving Abroad?

If you are planning to travel abroad and rent a car, you may need to purchase an international rental car insurance policy. International car rental insurance policies cover you in the unlikely event that you are in an accident in a foreign country. 
By Casey L.
Updated Dec 8, 2020
do i need rental insurance when driving abroad
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International trips can be great adventures. Renting a car to explore on your own to add to that sense of fun and adventure. But getting a rental car can come with increased liability and may require some advanced planning to ensure that you are covered in the unlikely but unfortunate event that you are in an accident, whether you are at fault or not. An accident can ruin an otherwise ideal vacation, so it's best to prepare in advance to limit the impact on your vacation and your finances.

If you plan to travel abroad and rent a car, you may need to purchase an international rental car insurance policy. International car rental insurance policies cover you in the unlikely event that you are in an accident in a foreign country. Depending on the type of coverage you select, the policy may cover damage to property, damage to the rental vehicle, and medical expenses for you and your family. 

Who Needs Additional Insurance When Traveling Internationally? 

Before determining whether you need an auto insurance policy specific to international travel, you need to decide whether you are eligible to drive in a foreign country. Identification varies by country, and some countries do not accept the United States driver's licenses.

Anyone renting a car in a foreign country should make sure that you have coverage that complies with the country's rules to which you are going. 

Even if you do not think you will be driving a car on an international trip, it is probably a good idea to determine your car insurance coverage before leaving the country. You never know when an emergency would require you to need a rental car. 

Credit card companies provide additional coverage for international travel in certain circumstances and may cover car rental insurance. You should check with the credit card you are using to see if your travels are already covered.

Are International Car Rentals Covered Over Your Current Policy? 

Before setting out on your trip, you should carefully review your current auto insurance policy to determine if car rentals in foreign countries are covered. Even if domestic car rentals are covered, you should verify that the coverage extends to other countries. As reported by TripSavvy, your current policy coverage is generally limited to domestic travel

If you are unsure if the car rental will be covered after reading through your policy, reach out to your insurance to verify the coverage. Make sure you get any gaps in coverage sorted out and any contact information before your trip, should you have any issues abroad.

Estimated Cost

The cost for an international rental car policy will vary depending on the coverage you select and the length of your trip. You need to evaluate your personal needs, including your current financial condition. 

If you can cover some loss, you may want to choose a plan with a higher deductible. That means that you will be responsible for more money in the event of a small accident, but it will protect you from more considerable losses. 

Keep in mind that expenses will vary a lot by country. Medical expenses may be lower in some counties and higher in others. The cost of car repairs will vary significantly depending on your location as well. If you plan to rent a car, you may want to research some of these potential expenses before driving to a foreign country.

What is Covered? 

There are various types of international rental car coverages available. You can cover both your liability for personal injury, and you can cover damage to the rental car. You will be required to have coverage for damage that happens to other cars while you are driving in most places. This coverage will cover you if you are in an accident that is your fault. 

Rental car companies may require you to purchase insurance through the rental car company if you cannot provide proof of insurance before taking the car on the road. 

How Do You Obtain Car Insurance for Traveling Abroad? 

Step 1: Determine if you already have coverage.

Check with your current car insurance company to determine if they offer coverage for rental cars. If they do, you should check and see if they provide coverage for car rentals in foreign countries. 

If your current coverage does not include rental cars while traveling abroad, you can ask to add a short term rider to your policy that would cover your car rental. 

Additionally, some credit card companies include such coverage, so you should check with the card you plan to use to rent the car to see if the coverage is already included.

Suppose your current car insurance company does not cover the rental, and your credit card company does not cover the rental. In that case, you should shop for a separate policy covering car rentals while aboard. 

Step 2: Get a free quote.

Many websites allow you to obtain a free quote for rental car coverage. You should never pay for an insurance quote. You can also reach out to the company that you are planning on renting the car to see if they offer policies when you rent the vehicle. Be aware, however, that the policy provided by the car rental company may not be your best deal. 

You never want to be in a hurry to purchase an insurance policy. Take your time and evaluate your needs so that you ensure that you have the proper coverage. 

Step 3: Choose a policy.

Once you have obtained free quotes for rental car insurance, you should determine the level of coverage you require. Keep in mind that you want coverage for yourself and any damage you might cause to the vehicle. 

Choosing the right coverage means balancing the coverage you need with your budget. 

Step 4: Fill out an application.

You'll need the necessary information about yourself, including your name, home address, and phone number. You will also need to provide information about your upcoming travel, including your destination and length of stay. 

Necessary vehicle information may be required, as well. Because you may not know what time of automobile you are renting, the policy application might ask for a general class of vehicle or limit the coverage on any potential car. 

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How Do You Qualify for a Policy? 

Before issuing an international rental car insurance policy, the company will want to review your driving history based on your driver's license number and application. They will want to ensure that you have a solid driving history before agreeing to insure you in a foreign country.

How to Choose the Best International Rental Car Insurance Company? 

Before choosing an insurance policy, you should check the reviews of companies you are considering. You should look at whether they are easy to work with if you end up having an accident and an easy way to contact them while abroad. 

There are multiple sites online that allow you to look at reviews from recent customers and insurance companies' government ratings. You want to make sure that you choose to buy a policy from a reputable company that will honor the policy in case of any trouble. 

Additional questions? 

If you are still unsure if a foreign travel auto insurance policy is for you, contact us today.