Do I need to buy insurance on a rental vehicle?

Rental car companies offer loss- or collision-damage waivers, liability insurance, medical coverage, and theft of personal property. A loss-or collision-damage waiver eliminates your responsibility for theft or damage to the rental vehicle. Liability insurance pays if you are legally responsible for another person's crash-related damages. Medical pays your crash-related medical expenses. Protection for your personal property stolen from the rental vehicle is also available.

There are ways to insure the rental car prior to pick up. For example, check with the credit card company securing the rental vehicle. Ask for written confirmation of insurance on rental cars. Verify coverages, limits, and if protection is secondary to other insurance. In addition, there are a few companies that offer stand alone rental car policies.

Liability from a primary auto policy extends to a personal use rental car. There may be restrictions if you use the rental for business or if the primary vehicle is being driven by someone else at the same time. Ask a local agent for rental car coverage details.

Buy the loss- or collision-damage waiver for the rental car if your policy has no physical damage (comprehensive and collision) protection. You may want it even if you have comprehensive and collision as the waiver prevents the rental company from charging loss of use fees while a damaged rental is being repaired.

Making a claim on your auto policy for a rental car could have repercussions. Your company may do nothing, remove an accident-free discount, add a policy surcharge, terminate coverage, or take other action.

Personal items stolen from the rental car are covered by homeowners or renters insurance, subject to the policy deductible.