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Two boys are smiling as they lean out of the rental car's windows as they enjoy the evening sun on their summer vacation.

Do I need rental car insurance for summer vacation?

Renting a car during your summer vacation can make your trip one to remember: you can go at your own pace, explore off the beaten track, and sometimes, it’s the only way to get where you want to go! But navigating a foreign country can be stressful and that triples if you get into an accident. If you’re wondering about how to protect yourself and if you need rental car insurance for summer vacation, you’re in the right place. We’ll review everything you need to know.

Before You Rent a Car for Summer Vacation

Booking a rental car for summer vacation should be done in advance, particularly if you’re travelling to a popular destination or have strict requirements for the type of car you want to rent. Here are some things to consider about your rental car:

  • Type of driving you’re planning on doing
  • Size of the car (consider your height as well as how easy it will be to park)
  • How many people it can transport
  • How much luggage room you require
  • Automatic or manual transmission
  • Fuel type and availability
  • Features such as backup camera, roof rack, fold-down seats, et cetera
  • Parking benefits
  • Roadside support
  • Location of pick up and drop off
  • Dates available
  • Price
  • Damage, cleanliness, and fuel policies
  • Insurance coverage available
  • Company ratings and reviews

There are a few decisions that need to be made initially. First, you’ll need to decide on the car. How many people are you travelling with? How big of a car do you need? What type of car do you want? Do you have a lot of luggage or other items with you? Do you need an automatic transmission? Do you want a car with certain features like a backup camera, roof rack, or fold-down seats?

Once you’ve decided on the general car size and type you want, it’s time to look up companies. Make sure the company allows for its vehicles to go where you want to take it. You’ll also want to double check the hours of operation, rental roadside support, and read reviews of the company. Check out what they offer for insurance and what the fine print is, as well.

Once you’ve found a rental car company and vehicle that works, it’s time to look at the insurance aspect.

Rental Car Insurance for Summer Vacation

Even though it might seem like a hassle, ensuring that you are properly covered is essential. What happens if your rental car is involved in an accident? What if it’s a victim of a break-in or theft? If you do not have coverage, you will likely have to pay out of your own pocket. Charges from the rental company could be astronomical, not to mention if you’re held liable for someone else’s injuries or property damage.

Rental Car Company Insurance

Rental companies will probably urge that you purchase their insurance in the case of an accident. While insurance is important, you may not want to jump for this type of coverage right away. You should always read over any policy to see what exactly will be covered and what the costs are. Sometimes these policies are not very good and don’t protect you as the renter. They may have a very high deductible or extra fees.

If you do opt to purchase this insurance, be sure you keep a copy with you at all times. You should also ask what the process is and have them show you exactly what is covered and what the fees are.

Credit Card Rental Car Insurance

Certain credit card companies will also provide insurance for rental cars. Their coverage varies. Often, what they supply is known as collision damage waivers. This helps cover charges for repairs and replacement of the vehicle if you’re involved in an accident. Many will also cover theft, but may not add liability coverage in the event of an accident. In certain situations, this coverage can be better than what the rental car company is offering. But this all depends on the individual credit card and rental car insurance.

Be sure to understand your policy. You can call your credit card company, check their website, or take their wordings to your insurance broker if you need help. It’s never a bad idea to book your rental car with a credit card anyways, as you usually don’t pay extra for this insurance coverage and there can be other benefits as well.

Your Personal Insurance

Rental cars are not covered by your personal auto insurance unless you have a special endorsement (add-on coverage). Adding this coverage may be your best option, especially if you’re worried about your liability and damages being adequately protected. It is also useful if you travel frequently or plan to rent a vehicle for a longer time period.

It’s important to note that your coverage will vary by your insurer. Some insurance companies only offer coverage for certain countries or if you have an international driver’s permit.

Talk to your broker about your options when it comes to using your personal insurance for rental car insurance for summer vacation.

Final Things to Remember About Rental Car Insurance

Always document the car when you pick it up and once you drop it off, preferably with photos or videos. Note any scuffs, chips, or any type of damage.

You also don’t have to use any of the above rental car insurance options in isolation – you could use all three, and this isn’t a bad idea.

Make sure to choose your insurance wisely so that your summer vacation doesn’t get ruined by worry. Enjoy the drive with peace of mind. Talk to your broker if you have any questions – they’re happy to help!