Does My Auto Insurance Cover Rental Cars?

Row of rental cars on a sunny day

When it comes time to rent a car, here are two common questions that customers often ask us:

  • Do I need to buy the insurance offered by rental car companies?
  • If I am in a car accident and need to rent a car, am I covered?

Let’s find out the answers.


You’re standing at the rental car counter and the person helping you asks if you want to buy insurance through them. Do you need it? Ultimately, it’s up to you but in most cases, you probably don’t, as your personal auto insurance should have you covered for liability claims, but your ERIE Agent can tell you for sure. Additionally, If you have collision and comprehensive coverage, you may also be covered for damage to the rental car.

Auto insurance from Erie Insurance is designed to suitably protect you and your family for incidental use of a car that’s not your own, such as a short-term rental of less than 45 days. The coverage extends to cars in the U.S. or Canada. That said, it’s a good idea to check with an insurance adviser like an ERIE agent beforehand since auto policies vary from person to person.

Here are a few questions to ask your agent about insurance and rental car coverage:

Q: When I rent a car for a combined business trip and a personal vacation, am I covered?
A: Your personal auto policy may not cover you, but your employer’s insurance might.

Q: If more than one person is driving the rental car, am I covered?
A: Your auto insurance likely only covers individuals that are on your policy, such as spouse or kids. So, in this scenario, coverage from the rental company could be a good idea.

Q: If my luggage, purse or personal possessions are stolen out of my rental car, am I covered?
A: Maybe. This depends on the details of your individual auto policy. In many cases, personal property may be covered by a homeowners or rental insurance policy, but not by your auto insurance. It may be worth asking an associate from the rental company what their policy is regarding personal property stolen from their vehicles.

Another option to consider: Many credit card companies offer rental car insurance if you pay the rental fee using their card. Just know that this coverage typically only covers physical damage to the rental car, so you’ll still need separate liability coverage. Get in touch with your credit card company to ask for details.

With liability coverage, there are a few things you should consider. Most states have a required minimum amount of liability coverage, which rental car companies are required by law to offer, but that still may not give you enough protection. If you have personal auto insurance and have opted for higher liability limits, you’ll be better protected.


If your car needs to be in the shop for a while after an accident, you may need to rent a car. Most auto insurance policies offer rental reimbursement coverage for a nominal extra charge, but sometimes auto insurance shoppers skip adding it to their policies.

With ERIE, basic rental car coverage is automatically included in most states if you’ve purchased comprehensive coverage. That means if your car is disabled because of a fire, theft, glass damage or another comprehensive type claim that may be covered under your policy, you’re covered for a compact sedan rental car. If you need a bigger rental vehicle, you could buy additional coverage (details below).

Related: When is a car considered “totaled”… and what happens when it is?

To have rental car coverage while your vehicle is being repaired from collision losses, such as hitting another car or a fence, building or pole, you would need to purchase collision coverage and add the rental car coverage to your policy.

At ERIE, this add-on coverage is called Transportation Expenses. It allows you to select a class of vehicle you want. It’s a nice benefit, because if you are a family of six… a compact sedan is probably not going to work. There are six classes* from which to choose:

  • Class 1: Compact sedan
  • Class 2: Traditional sedan
  • Class 3: Small SUV or pickup truck
  • Class 4: Minivan or midsize SUV
  • Class 5: Luxury sedan or large SUV
  • Class 6: Specially equipped vehicle that can be operated and accessed by an individual with a disability.


Looking for a rental with a personality that matches yours? TURO (formerly RelayRides), is a carsharing platform that allows car owners to ‘host’ their vehicles, cutting out the rental counter and adding a more personal feel to your rental experience. While auto coverage with ERIE will cover you if you are renting a car through TURO, it will not if you are hosting (i.e. renting your vehicle out). A rental through TURO would also be covered under Transportation Expenses as a temporary substitute after an accident.

With that in mind, it’s easy to add rental car expense coverage to your auto insurance policyJust ask your agent to add Transportation Expense Coverage.

And, while you’re at it, consider adding Emergency Roadside Service Coverage. Insurance rules vary by state, so it is best to check with a trusted insurance advisor to review the specifics of your auto policy. Contact your local ERIE agent to help you determine what best meets your needs.

This story was originally published in 2018. It was updated with new information on April 29, 2019.

*With ERIE, you can choose from six classes of rental car options, each with a corresponding premium rate. North Carolina and Virginia offer a monetary reimbursement subject to purchased limits of coverage. Rental car classes do not apply.

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