Can you rent a car without having a personal auto insurance policy?

You can rent a car without having a personal auto insurance policy because all rental cars come with basic liability insurance coverage. Rental companies, credit card companies, and some insurance providers also offer non-owner insurance.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Insurance Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years Leslie Kasperowicz

UPDATED: Apr 27, 2022

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There are certain situations where drivers need to rent a car even though they don’t have their own auto insurance policy. Do you need insurance to rent a car? What happens if you rent a car without personal insurance? Car rentals without insurance may seem strange, but sometimes it’s necessary, especially in the event of an emergency. Today, we’re explaining everything you need to know about renting a car without insurance.

Can you rent a car without having a personal auto insurance policy?

If you have asked yourself, “Can I rent a car without insurance?” we are here to help. First, let’s make one thing clear: you can absolutely rent a car without having a personal auto insurance policy. All rental cars come with at least basic liability insurance.

However, it may be in your best interest to buy more than the bare minimum liability insurance when renting a vehicle from a car rental agency.

If you have your own car insurance, then your own car insurance policy would supplement the insurance from the rental car agency. If you don’t have your own personal auto insurance, however, then you may wish to buy supplemental insurance coverage from the rental car company, through non-owners car insurance, or through your credit card.

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How to Get Car Insurance for Your Rental Car

Typically, there are three ways to get additional insurance for your rented vehicle, including:

  • You can buy a non-owners car insurance policy, which is designed to cover you when driving someone else’s vehicle or a rental car even if you don’t own your own vehicle
  • You can buy car insurance from the rental company, which provides basic liability to all renters automatically but may offer comprehensive coverage for an additional fee (say, $10 to $40 per day)
  • You can rent the car using your credit card and rely on credit card car insurance

These are the three main ways to get car insurance on a rental car even if you don’t have your own personal auto policy. The easiest way is to buy car insurance directly from the rental car company when you rent the car. However, your credit card might have its own coverage as well. As long as you pay for your rental car using your credit card, you may be automatically covered with their own insurance product.

Alternatively, some choose to buy non-owners car insurance. Non-owners car insurance is ideal for those who do not own a vehicle of their own but drive a friend or relative’s vehicle frequently and want to remain covered. A non-owners car insurance policy is ideal for rental cars, allowing you to remain fully covered throughout your rental period.

Non-owners car insurance is often available on a temporary basis. In fact, some people call non-owners car insurance ‘temporary car insurance’. Temporary car insurance usually just includes liability coverage, making it a cheap option while ensuring you remain covered in your rental car.

Check with your credit card company or insurance provider to make sure you have adequate coverage. Additionally, consider bringing proof of coverage to the rental car company when getting your rental car. The rental car company may refuse to let you drive off the lot until you prove you have adequate coverage.

Which companies offer temporary car insurance?

Many major car insurance providers offer temporary non-owners car insurance policies that are ideal for rental cars. Request a quote for a non-owners car insurance policy with one of the following:

  • State Farm
  • Progressive
  • The General
  • Nationwide
  • Dairyland

In most cases, the above car insurance companies sell non-owners car insurance with only liability coverage. That means your car insurance meets the basic minimum requirements to drive on the road, but your car insurance doesn’t cover much else. This may be sufficient coverage, although you may also consider buying additional coverage – say, through your credit card company or the rental car company.

How to Buy Auto Insurance Coverage Through Your Rental Car Company

Every rental car company has auto insurance coverage on its entire fleet of vehicles, with at least basic supplemental liability protection extended to all renters.

However, if you get into an accident while driving a rental car, then you may need to pay a huge deductible along with other expenses. Rental car companies will charge you for lost income for every day the rental car cannot be used, for example.

That’s why it’s in your best interest to buy additional car insurance. Most rental car companies offer the following four types of car insurance as an additional purchase:

Liability: Liability coverage covers property damage and medical expenses you cause on other people, drivers, and property while driving the rental car. This coverage is mandatory.

Loss Damage Waiver: A loss damage waiver will cover any damage done to the rental vehicle, from theft to hail damage and more. This coverage is optional but absolves you of virtually any responsibility if the vehicle is damaged.

Personal Accident Insurance: This insurance covers any medical expenses of you and your passengers, similar to how ordinary health insurance works. This coverage is optional. It’s generally not necessary if you have some type of auto insurance or health insurance already.

Personal Effects Insurance: If your rental car is broken into, or if the car gets stolen, then you might want to buy personal effects insurance. This insurance covers any possessions inside the vehicle. Again, this insurance may be unnecessary if you already have homeowner’s or renter’s insurance.

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How to Get Credit Card Rental Car Insurance Coverage

Most major credit cards – including many Visa and MasterCard credit cards – come with rental car insurance coverage.

Typically, credit-card-based rental car insurance coverage includes liability coverage (mandatory) and secondary coverage (like collision and comprehensive coverage).

However, not all credit cards provide rental car coverage. Contact your credit card company to verify you have coverage. If your credit card covers rental cars, and you’re paying for the rental car with that credit card, then you should be fully covered for the duration of your car rental even without having your own personal car insurance policy.

What’s the bottom line?

Every day, thousands of people successfully rent cars without having their own car insurance. Some people don’t own a car themselves, for example, and only rent a car when needed. Others have no need for car insurance on a regular basis.

Whatever your reason may be for not having car insurance, you can absolutely rent a car without having a personal auto insurance policy. All rental cars already have coverage, and this coverage follows the car – not the driver. That means you, as the driver, will be insured when driving the vehicle.

However, it may be in your best interest to buy additional car insurance for your rented vehicle. Typically, the rental car company’s insurance only provides basic liability coverage. You may wish to buy additional coverage through your credit card company, the rental car company, or a third party car insurance company offering non-owners car insurance.

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