Tuesday, June 2, 2015


This is a very common question:  Does my auto insurance transfer to or cover rental cars?

There are two entirely different situations where most people want "rental car coverage." 

1. You want your current auto insurance to transfer to a car you are renting so you don't have to buy insurance from the rental car company.  You may be traveling or you may have your car in the shop for mechanical repairs not related to an accident.

2. You want your current insurance to pay for your rental car cost while your car is being repaired as the result of an accident. 

In the first example, generally, whatever coverage you have on your current auto insurance will transfer to a rented vehicle. Coverage you don't have will not transfer to the rented car, of course. You should always call your company if you are in doubt. Some companies will transfer basic liability to a rental car but nothing extra. They may not transfer the Comprehensive and Collision coverage to the rented car. They may transfer only the minimum liability limits which, in California, is $15,000 per person bodily injury up to a maximum of $30,000 bodily injury for the whole accident and $5,000 property damage per accident even though, on your policy, the limits may be higher.  

Again, when in doubt, check with your company. Don't make any assumptions. Some policies are more generous than others. If you have a policy from a preferred company like Hartford, Travelers, MetLife, GEICO, State Farm, Farmers, Allstate, Progressive, AMICA, Liberty Mutual, Safeco, etc. then whatever you have on your policy will transfer to the rented vehicle. If you have an "off brand" company or one that might be considered high-risk, then you definitely better check with them first.

In the second example you want your insurance company to pay for your rental car while it is being repaired or replaced as the result of an accident or theft. This coverage is called Rental Car Reimbursement Coverage. It is usually optional. You have to buy it. And in order to buy it you must first have Comprehensive and Collision Coverage; they go together. If you do not have Comprehensive and Collision Coverage then you cannot buy Rental Car Reimbursement Coverage.  

So let's say you DO have Comp and Collision Coverage and you have purchased Rental Car Reimbursement Coverage. When can you use it? Only when your car is in the shop for a claim or it has been stolen. If you have filed a claim with your insurance company for damage to your car or theft of your car then your Rental Car Reimbursement Coverage will come in to play. But look once again at what it is: REIMBURSEMENT coverage. You pay out of pocket for the rental, then the company reimburses you when the claim is finally settled. How much? Again, look at your policy. Where it says Rental Car Reimbursement on your declarations page, it will show figures like $30 per day / $900 maximum. That's your limit.

Rental Car Reimbursement Coverage does not pay for the insurance that the rental car company would like to charge you for. We're back to the question of whether your insurance will transfer to a rented vehicle. See the explanation above. Your current insurance may transfer in full or in part to the rented vehicle. Your claims adjuster should be able to tell you what to expect. 

Okay? Got it? Two different scenarios and applications of "Rental Car Coverage."