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What to Do When Renting a Car & You Don’t Have Personal Car Insurance

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What to Do When Renting a Car & You Don’t Have Personal Car Insurance

Million Mile SecretsWhat to Do When Renting a Car & You Don’t Have Personal Car InsuranceMillion Mile Secrets Team

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Million Mile Secrets reader Vivian writes:

I am in between purchasing a new car and don’t have personal car insurance.  I’m going on a business trip in California, which requires liability insurance.  Which specific credit cards provide auto liability insurance?

Please help me as the cost to me would be $15 a day over 6 weeks for auto liability from the auto rental agencies!

What To Do When Renting A Car And You Dont Have Personal Car Insurance
Unfortunately, the Highest Coverage Vivian Can Get With a Credit Card Is Primary Insurance NOT Liability Insurance

What’s Liability Insurance?

If you’re at fault in an accident, liability insurance covers damage to the property and injuries of others involved in the accident.

What To Do When Renting A Car And You Dont Have Personal Car Insurance
Liability Insurance Is Required in 49 States Including California

Your injuries should be covered under your health insurance plan, but it’s best to call and make sure.

However, any damage to the rental car will NOT be covered.  So you will have to pay for any damage to the rental car out of your own pocket.  Unless you purchase Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) insurance from the rental car company or get primary rental car insurance through your credit card.

Rental car companies usually cover the state minimum required liability insurance, but this is unlikely to provide significant protection.

Also, if your employer is sending you on a business trip, they should usually provide you with insurance.  But best to check with them!

What’s Primary Rental Car Insurance?

Link:   Should I Buy Rental Car Insurance?

Link:   13 Cards That Offer Primary Rental Car Insurance

The highest level of rental car coverage you can get with credit cards, is primary insurance.  Primary insurance is offered with several Chase cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Bold (business rentals only), and Chase Ink Plus (business rentals only).  You can also see my list of more cards with primary rental car insurance.

In fact, Chase offers many of the top rewards cards.  Here’s more about our strategy for finding the best Chase credit card for your particular situation.

Primary insurance covers damage to the rental car, but does NOT cover injuries to others and their property.  Personal liability car insurance will usually cover damage to other property, cars, and others’ injuries.

These 2 types of insurance compliment each other.  This is why some folks can waive the insurance offered by the rental car company when they pay for their rental car with a card that offers primary coverage.

Having a personal car insurance policy usually means that you’re covered when you drive another car.  But always double-check!

What To Do When Renting A Car And You Dont Have Personal Car Insurance
NOT Having Sufficient Coverage Could Cost You!

Because Vivian doesn’t have personal car insurance, only the rental car damages will be covered when she waives the insurance from the rental car company and uses the primary insurance from her credit cards.

She will still be liable for the injury of others and damages to other cars and property.  This could potentially cost her MILLIONS!

Don’t Take the Risk!

Vivian can avoid taking such a big risk, by signing-up for supplemental insurance from the rental car company.  However, at ~$15 per day for 6 weeks this will cost her ~$630.

What To Do When Renting A Car And You Dont Have Personal Car Insurance
Make Sure You Are Covered!

Vivian may be able to save money by signing-up for a non-owners car insurance policy instead.  Non-owners car insurance provides liability insurance for folks who don’t have their own car, but still drive occasionally.

If Vivian has non-owners car insurance and pays for her rental with a credit card that provides primary car insurance, she may have liability coverage.

Vivian can call around for pricing to see if this is cheaper than paying for 6 weeks of insurance through the rental car company.

Bottom Line

Certain credit cards will give you primary rental car coverage, when you pay for the rental with your card.  But primary Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) insurance only covers damage to your rental car.

If you don’t have personal car insurance, you could be liable for the injury of others and their vehicles.  Totaled cars, ambulance rides, etc. will get extremely costly!

I love to save money wherever I can, but insurance is 1 place I don’t recommend folks cut corners, because the risk is too big.

So if you don’t have your own car insurance, it’s best to pay for the insurance offered by the rental car company.  And folks who rent cars frequently may save money by signing-up for a non-owner’s car insurance policy.

Looking for More Travel Tips?  Check Out These Other Popular Million Mile Secrets Articles

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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I am a resident of California and am living partially out of the country. I sold my cars and did not keep car insurance. I am returning to California and have rented a car for a month. My AMEX has car rental insurance with no collision coverage. What are my options ?

I am in France with 3 month stay (no Long Term Visa). I shall rent a car with Sapphire Preferred card. I understand that primary liability coverage comes with Sapphire,

but does t hat mean headlights, windows and tires are covered for damage as well?

Europcar tries to sell me insurance for that plus any damage to rental car.

Sapphire does NOT cover Personal Liability Car insurance to other property, cars and other

peoples injuries. So will I be able to buy that here and what is it called in France?

Thanks in advance for guidance on this.

Need to rent a car and want insurance just in care there are any accidents with the rental that I would have coverage

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Driving a car which is written off is extremely risky and that’s why we at Car Analytics provide a Free Vehicle History Check which you can utilize to purchase a used car.

Great info!

Much appreciated.

Wowser!

Informative.

Your post focuses on getting the car at the counter while I would be more concerned about collecting on the insurance in the case of death or injury to others. If you said you were from the UK (and were not in reality) they probably will not pay claims.

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