Whether you are an avid traveler or the occasional vacationist, you may need the services of a car rental abroad. It is particularly necessary if you are planning a trip overseas.
Typically, any eligible U.S. citizen can rent a car in any foreign country. However, you would be required to have some form of insurance cover. That’s because just about every country or jurisdiction in the world has auto insurance policies1.
If you already have a domestic policy, can your car insurance cover you in another country? And does your credit card cover international car rental insurance?
Does my auto insurance cover me overseas?
The short answer is “no.” Your U.S. auto insurance policy will not cover a car rental abroad. That is because the policy is often attached to the car and not the person. Unless you intend to take the car with you, you will be using a different car (a rental), which is not included in your domestic policy3.
However, many insurers typically offer coverage when you drive into Canada and Mexico4. Additionally, you may have coverage, regardless of the country, if you took out a personal umbrella policy.
This type of policy typically applies anywhere in the world2. But you may still need some form of personal liability insurance from the car rental company because umbrella policies are usually applied on top of a required underlying insurance cover.
Auto insurance coverage options when you are abroad.
As already mentioned, virtually every country or jurisdiction in the world has auto insurance policies. You can start by contacting the U.S. Embassy in the country you plan to visit and inquire of the rental car insurance requirements.
If you already have domestic coverage, ask your local agent if your policy protects you in the country you intend to visit. Make sure they explain the extent to which you are covered.
Knowing the foreign country’s requirements and your current coverage will give you an idea of what your policy doesn’t provide should you take a car rental abroad. You can then purchase additional coverage.
The U.S. State Department recommends getting roughly the same foreign insurance coverage as what you have at home4. But keep in mind that some countries require additional coverage from what you might have in the U.S. In Italy, for example, you are required by law to have theft coverage.
Nonetheless, here are some places where you can get insurance for a car rental abroad:
Your credit card
Some credit card companies offer rental car insurance for both domestic and foreign use. Visa, for example, typically offers a 31-day insurance cover for car rental abroad and anywhere between 15 and 31 days for domestic car rentals5. Talk to your credit card company to know what options they have for car rental abroad.
The car rental company
Many foreign car rental companies provide their customers with temporary insurance policies. Your coverage will typically last for the period during which you plan to use the rental car.
It is a convenient option because you get a full package deal that includes the car and insurance coverage. And since it’s a local company, the policy is likely to meet the insurance requirements of that country.
A U.S. auto insurer
There are some U.S. insurance companies that provide rental car insurance that you can use abroad. A good example is Allianz, which offers the Rental Car Damage Protector policy. This policy gives you primary coverage in nearly every country in the world6 when you use a rental car.
Again, a policy offered by a U.S. company may not be sufficient to cover you according to the foreign country’s auto insurance requirements. That’s why it’s important to do extensive research beforehand. Here’s a look at a few places (and platforms) of interest and what you need to know about them:
Car rentals Expedia: if you book your international travel through Expedia, you will have the chance to rent a car and add Expedia’s Travel Guard’s collision damage insurance to it. This is a basic policy that only covers collision damage. Depending on the insurance policies of your destination country, you may need additional coverage.
Car rentals Maui: since Maui is in Hawaii, which is a state of the U.S., your valid auto insurance policy will cover you there. But you may only use it on a rental car if it provides comprehensive and liability coverage. The same is true for car rentals Honolulu and any other town/city in Hawaii.
Car rentals Mexico: many U.S. insurers will give you some coverage when you use a Mexico rental car. It’s typically basic liability insurance, which means that you may need to purchase additional coverage.