Car rental: which insurance(s) to choose?

Have you just booked a rental car for your next vacation and wondering if the insurance is included in the total amount of the reservation? The answer is yes ! The majority of rental companies include third party insurance, theft insurance and comprehensive insurance in the package. Be careful though, the guarantees offered by the latter are often limited (high deductible, certain damages not covered, etc.). This is why, depending on the duration of your rental and the route taken, it may be wise to opt for additional insurance which will cover you more and offer you more guarantees. We help you see more clearly in our article!

Why is it important to be insured when renting a car?

First of all, you should know that in the event of an inspection, you are required to present a certificate proving that the vehicle is well insured. This basic insurance corresponds to the civil liability guarantee, also called “third-party insurance”, and covers all the damage that you could cause to others. In Europe, all renters must be insured against third parties, but abroad, the legislation in force may be different. So make sure you are well informed.
With regard to the guarantees relating to your own damage in the event of an accident, their coverage depends on your responsibility in the accident and the clauses of your contract.

If you are not responsible for the accident, the other party’s insurance covers all the damage and will also compensate the lessor, whether you have taken out additional insurance or not. On the other hand, in the case of an accident for which you are responsible, an excess remains your responsibility. Sometimes, it is possible to reduce the amount or to be exempted from it, in the event that you have opted for additional insurance.

Finally, with regard to the theft of the vehicle, most rental insurance policies include this guarantee in the rental contract. However, be sure to check that it is included because, otherwise, you would be required to reimburse the rental company for the value of the new vehicle you have rented.

What type of guarantees does the car insurance included in car rental contracts offer?

In Europe, a rental company is required to take out basic insurance including third-party coverage, a guarantee in the event of theft or damage, as well as an assistance service under certain conditions.

Third-party or civil liability coverage

The civil liability guarantee, internationally known under the abbreviation LIA “liability insurance automobile”, covers all the costs relating to the damage that you could cause to another road user. While this guarantee is mandatory in Europe, this is not the case in certain countries such as the United States or Canada.
To avoid unpleasant surprises, read your rental contract carefully beforehand. It may be that there is no guarantee of civil liability or that its indemnification ceiling is very low. In this case, the rental companies will certainly offer you additional insurance generally called SLI “supplemental liability insurance”. The latter offers an extended warranty for an amount of up to 2 million euros.

Be insured against vehicle damage and theft

In Europe, this guarantee is included in the basic insurance formula. But beware, this is often not the case in the United States, Canada or Australia.

The basic car insurance of European rental companies generally offers a CDW “collision damage waiver” guarantee. It applies in the event of an accident and collision, even without additional insurance. The flight is also included in the basic package. However, there is generally a deductible to be paid and it is rare that the belongings that were in the passenger compartment of the car are covered by this guarantee.

Rental car assistance

Breakdown assistance is included in the basic formula and therefore in the price of your rental, but very often only in the event of an accident. In the event that you use the wrong fuel or lose your keys, the breakdown service will remain your responsibility.

car rental

Additional protection, reduction in the amount of the deductible… What are the advantages of the additional insurance offered by your rental company?

This type of insurance is optional. However, depending on the guarantees included in the basic formula of your rental contract and your needs, it may be interesting to opt for additional insurance.

One of the advantages concerns the redemption of the franchise. It can be total or only partial. Thus, this allows you to reduce the amount of your deductible, in particular in the event of an accident or theft of a vehicle. These options are often referred to as “super cover” or “complete protection”. However, they do not cover minor damage such as glass breakage or tire damage. Often, this type of guarantee is only offered by Premium supplementary insurance.

Finally, another component of supplementary insurance is personal accident protection (PAI). It covers the driver as well as his passengers in the event of death, disability and can also cover medical expenses related to injuries from an accident occurring during the rental period. Remember to check that you do not already have these guarantees with your other insurance or mutual health insurance contracts.

car rental price

Alternative solutions to supplementary insurance

If you find that the basic formula included in your rental contract does not offer you enough guarantees. Be aware that there are interesting alternatives to the additional insurance offered by your rental company.

Opt for independent car insurance!

Often 100% online, independent car insurance for rental cars can be very interesting. Indeed, it is you who chooses it and therefore who opts for the one that will offer you the guarantees you need. In addition, it is, most of the time, possible to declare your claim online and all you have to do, to be reimbursed, is to send your insurance company the following documents:

  • rent lease,
  • the report of the accident or damage from the lessor,
  • the invoice for the repair and proof of payment.

High-end bank card car insurance

Premium credit cards such as American Express, Visa Premier or Mastercard Gold generally offer an insurance package for rental cars. To be able to benefit from it, the essential condition is to use your credit card to pay for your car rental. However, be careful to inform yourself about the terms of this type of insurance, because there are many exclusions and the procedures are usually quite long.

Credits: iStock

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