Q

Do you need proof of insurance to rent a car?

A

No, you don’t need proof of insurance to rent a car because the vehicle will already be insured by the rental company. But if you have your own insurance it will protect the rental, too.

Anna SwartzAndrew Hurst

By 

Anna Swartz

Anna Swartz

Managing Editor & Auto Insurance Expert

Anna Swartz is a managing editor and auto insurance expert at Policygenius, where she oversees our car insurance coverage. Previously, she was a senior staff writer at Mic.com, as well as an associate writer at The Dodo.

 & Andrew Hurst

Andrew Hurst

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Andrew Hurst is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. His work has also been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, NPR, Mic, Insurance Business Magazine, ValuePenguin, and Property Casualty 360.

Updated May 4, 2022 | 5 min read

Policygenius content follows strict guidelines for editorial accuracy and integrity. Learn about our editorial standards and how we make money.

If you don’t have your own insurance, you can still rent a car. Drivers are not required to show proof of insurance when renting a car. Rental car companies insure their vehicles with enough liability insurance to meet the state’s requirements (and they also offer more coverage for a fee).

Compare rates and shop affordable car insurance today

We don’t sell your information to third parties.

Many credit card companies also offer rental car insurance if you use your card to pay for the rental. Check with your credit card company to see if you can get coverage through them and avoid paying for add-ons through the rental company.

Do I need insurance to rent a car?

No, you don’t need your own insurance to rent a car. You don’t need proof of insurance to rent a car because rental companies are responsible for insuring their own vehicles. Your rental car will have enough coverage to meet the requirements of any state where you drive it — even if you cross over a border.

Rental car companies also offer extra coverage you can add to their basic insurance protection, like added liability coverage, coverage for belongings inside your rental car, or a collision damage waiver, which ensures that you won’t be responsible for replacing the car yourself if it’s stolen or damaged. 

You don’t need your own insurance to rent a car, but it’s a good idea to get rental coverage to increase the protection of the rental agency’s basic coverage. The collision damage waivers and excess liability these agencies sell can be expensive, so there may be better, cheaper alternatives, such as:

  • Using the coverage that comes with your credit card

  • Signing up for a rental car insurance policy from a specialty provider

  • Getting non-owner insurance if you’re a frequent renter

What are the requirements for renting a car?

While you don’t need insurance to rent a car, you will have to provide other information before starting a trip. Most major car rental companies have the same requirements for renting a vehicle. You’ll usually have to:

  • Be of the minimum age to rent a car. With many vendors, that’s 25, although drivers ages 21-24 will likely be able to rent certain cars for an extra daily surcharge.

  • Have a valid driver’s license. All car rental companies will require you to have an up-to-date license. The rental company can also check with your state’s DMV to verify your license, and may deny you a rental if you have recent violations or a recent DUI conviction.

  • Pay for the rental with a credit card. Generally, car rental companies prefer that you use a credit card for your deposit and payment. Some rental car companies, or specific locations, will allow you to use a debit card, but if you do, this is one of the cases where you may be required to show proof of insurance.

Can you rent a car if you don’t have car insurance?

Yes, even if you don’t have your own car or car insurance, you can still rent a car. 

You can use the rental agency’s basic coverage and supplement it by adding on a collision damage waiver. There are other options for covering a rental car too, including:

  • Coverage provided by your credit card: Many credit cards offer car insurance coverage that protects you from paying to replace your rental if it’s damaged or stolen. As long as you used that card to pay for the rental, you could avoid buying the same protection from the agency for a high cost (in some states, however, you can’t use your credit card as primary insurance for a rental car). 

  • Rental car insurance from a specialty provider: There are a few companies that allow you to purchase more insurance and pay a per-day rate for coverage. Companies like Allianz offer extra liability insurance for rental cars, plus collision and theft coverage, towing assistance, and personal effects protection for your own property.

  • Non-owner car insurance: This coverage is best for increasing liability coverage if you rent cars frequently. A non-owner policy is much more limited than a standard auto policy, but can be cheaper than what’s offered by a rental agency — especially if you’re renting cars more than just a few times each year.

Do you need proof of insurance to rent a car if you have your own car insurance?

Even if you have your own car insurance, you usually won’t need to show proof of insurance to rent a car. One exception may be if you pay for the rental car with a debit card instead of a credit card. In that case, the rental company may require you to show proof of insurance before they’ll let you rent a car. 

You also won’t need to purchase additional car insurance for your rental car if you already have coverage for your personal vehicle. Most policies extend the definition of your “covered vehicle” to any car you rent.

That means that the same limits and deductibles you have on your policy will apply to your rental car. Just like if you were driving your own vehicle, your liability coverage covers the costs if you injure someone or damage their property while in your rental car, and your comprehensive and collision insurance cover damage to your rental vehicle.

You can still get coverage through your credit card if you already have your own policy. In this case, your credit card’s insurance would serve as secondary, or supplemental insurance. This just means that your regular policy would cover damages before your credit card if you crashed the car.

Compare rates and shop affordable car insurance today

We don’t sell your information to third parties.

What are the different types of rental car insurance?

If you decide to purchase extra insurance from the car rental company, you should understand your options. Since the terms the agency uses may be unfamiliar, knowing your options is the best way to avoid paying for more insurance than you need.

Rental cars come with the minimum required amount of bodily injury and property damage liability coverage, but that may not be enough to cover you in case of an accident, and it won’t cover any damage to the rental car itself. Most major car rental agencies offer these different types of insurance add-ons:

Collision damage waiver

The collision damage waiver (CDW), also called a loss damage waiver (LDW) isn’t technically insurance. Instead, it’s a waiver you can pay for that will waive the costs of repairing your damaged rental car. This type of coverage can be expensive, especially if you rent the car for more than one day, so consider how the per-day cost compares with the potential costs of damaging your rental vehicle. 

A CDW or LDW is similar in some ways to how collision and comprehensive coverage work in a standard auto policy. If you don’t purchase it, you’ll likely be on the hook if your rental car is stolen, damaged or towed.

Supplemental liability protection

Supplemental liability protection (SLP) raises the limits of the rental car’s existing liability coverage. If you’re worried that the minimum limits that come with a rental car are too low, you can pay a daily fee and get more protection for the damage and injuries you might cause in an accident. 

Personal accident insurance

This add-on covers the costs of medical expenses you or your passengers incur as a result of an accident in your rental car, like personal injury insurance (PIP) or MedPay in a standard policy. If you have health insurance you probably don’t need to add this on to your rental car.

Personal effects coverage

This covers the costs to replace any personal items that are stolen from your rental car. If you have renters or homeowners insurance, you’re likely already covered if your belongings are stolen, so you probably don’t need to add on this coverage either.

Roadside assistance and towing

With roadside assistance protections, which are sometimes abbreviated as RAP, you’re covered for the cost of incidents like lost keys, lockouts, and emergency fill-ups if you run out of gas. The company will cover the cost of towing following a breakdown, so you won’t have to worry about buying towing insurance in most cases.

➞ Learn more about rental car insurance options

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you really need insurance on a rental car?

No, you don’t need your own car insurance to rent a car. Rental cars come with a minimum amount of liability coverage, but you may be able to get additional coverage through your credit card or by supplemental coverage from the rental car agency.

Do you need insurance to rent a car from Enterprise?

You don't need your own car insurance to rent a car from Enterprise or most other major car rental agencies. Rental cars come with a minimum required amount of liability coverage, but you might want to get extra coverage through the rental car company, by buying a non-owner policy, or by using a credit card that includes some rental car insurance.

Do you need insurance to rent a car on Turo?

Peer-to-peer car sharing services like Turo offer varying degrees of insurance coverage depending on where you live and which app or service you’re using, but you can use most of them without having your own insurance policy.

What happens if you damage a rental car without insurance?

Damaging a rental car without insurance could be costly. After you damage a rental car, you would have to pay for the damage yourself if you don’t have your own car insurance and haven’t bought a CDW.