Renting a car? Here are your insurance options

Few things can ruin a holiday as quickly as a large, unexpected expense and an accident involving a rental car. Even for the most careful drivers, a smash and grab or a low speed fender bender can instantly put a huge dent into your holiday budget.


So what can you do to protect yourself? Luckily, there are several options and you should explore and understand the ins and outs of each one before you travel. And, keep in mind that you will need two types of insurance coverage: 1) liability coverage and 2) material damages coverage.


First, check if your current auto insurance policy includes coverage for car rentals.


While these other coverage options may be available to you, make sure you understand what they offer.


Travel insurance: Most travel insurance products include limited rental car coverage, usually focused on covering damage, rather than liability. Speak to your insurance provider to understand exactly how you’re protected.


Credit cards: Most major credit cards also provide rental car coverage, but are often subject to a number of conditions. For example, you must have paid for the rental car reservation with the card that has the coverage. For some credit cards, rental car coverage is optional and needs to be arranged in advance. Simply being a card holder doesn’t always entitle you to the benefits.


Where you’re travelling can also be a factor in your ability to file a successful claim. While in Canada, personal liability coverage must be included with the car provided by the rental car company. This may not be the case elsewhere in the world. In general, if you’re renting a car outside of North America, you may need to arrange a policy specific to that country.


Car rental companies: Insurance policies are a significant revenue driver for car rental companies so although it can be expensive, getting collision insurance directly from the company itself is usually your best bet at avoiding surprise out-of-pocket charges. To minimize your risk, make sure to familiarize yourself with the policies offered ahead of time and complete a thorough pre-trip inspection with the rental agent to document any existing damage before your pull off the parking lot.


Finally, if you don’t buy insurance from the car rental company because you are covered under your auto insurance policy, travel insurance or credit card, make sure to ask an insurance binder to your insurance provider as a proof of insurance you can present to the car rental company. And, make sure you get the insurance binder in the appropriate language for the country you’re visiting, for example: French if you visit France or another francophone country, English if you visit a country where English is the first or second language.



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The content in this article is for information purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as professional or expert advice. Aviva and the Aviva logo are trademarks of Aviva plc. and are used under licence by Aviva Canada Inc. and its subsidiary companies.