I am visiting England soon and renting a car. I'm very confused as to car insurance while vacationing. I live in the United States and have car insurance and credit cards.

I am covered for "Collision and Theft" through my credit card company (Amazon Rewards Visa) as long as I decline the car rental company (Avis) insurance. However, I'm don't know whether I'm covered for liability, and if so, by whom?

I called my car insurance (State Farm) and was told the coverage is only for the U.S., Canada, and 500 miles inside Mexico. In the U.S., we typically have liability insurance and collision insurance. To my understanding, liability covers damage to humans and other cars and property whereas collision insurance covers damage to ones own car. But perhaps these terms don't apply in other countries and I'm fine. I just want to be sure I'm covered. There is insurance through Avis available for $20/day which is quite a bit.

Can someone set me straight? Thanks.

3 Answers 3


Your rental car will come with adequate insurance to ensure its road legal and that the rental company won’t lose out. See this handy rental guide, particularly point 5.

Every vehicle has to have an insurance policy in the UK if it’s to be driven on the roads. That’s a legal requirement. As such all rental cars come with at least some level of insurance cover (rental companies don’t want their cars impounded because you didn’t take out insurance). Any other insurance you choose to have is in addition to this (though not legally required).

There are three main levels of cover in the U.K.

Third Party

  • The minimum cover required by law in the UK. It covers you against costs that arise as a result of injuries you cause to other people and damage to their vehicles.
  • I believe this is equivalent of what you call liability insurance. It covers your liability against third parties.

Third Part Fire & Theft

  • As above with added protection against your vehicle being stolen, or destroyed in a fire.


  • Third Party Fire & Theft plus cover for damage or theft of your vehicle's contents.

  • I believe this is similar to your collision insurance.

Your rental car should come with comprehensive insurance, I’ve never heard of any company providing less.

There are many other additional insurance add-ons you can purchase but these aren’t legal requirements. One they car rental company will probably try and sell you is excess waiver insurance. If you take this out and subsequently need to claim on the insurance policy, there will be no excess to pay. The catch is the insurance they sell you can cost a significant amount. I would recommend taking out your own excess insurance prior to picking up the car. It’s easy enough to take out your own policy online and significantly cheaper.

Here is a great guide to car hire.

  • Statutory minimum limits and adequate limits are two different things. Commented Jul 22, 2018 at 14:34
  • @JimMacKenzie indeed they are, what's you point? I did say most rental cars come fully comp which is above the statutory limits, is quite adequate, and that even better is cheap excess insurance.
    – Notts90
    Commented Jul 22, 2018 at 14:52
  • You claimed rental cars come with 'adequate' limits. I'd assert they're not adequate functionally, but do meet legal requirements. That's my only niggle. Commented Jul 22, 2018 at 15:03
  • 2
    @JimMacKenzie ah I see what you're getting at. I've never known anyone in the UK care about the third party claim limit, I would wager the vast majority couldn't tell you what limit their insurance has or what the legal minimum is, I had to google it and the legal minimum is £20 million. When buying insurance in the UK the amount of third party cover isn't even advertised, you have to read it in the small print, it's just not a concern as its more than adequate.
    – Notts90
    Commented Jul 22, 2018 at 17:37
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    @Dave it sounds like you have understood correctly, rental cars come with insurance in the price. Personal cars are a different kettle of fish though. Thanks for marking as the accepted answer!
    – Notts90
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 14:07

Liability insurance is mandatory in Europe, and follow the vehicle. In many places you can't legally have license plates on vehicles without valid liability insurance.

It will not be a option you can take away, and it will have coverage according to local and European laws.

  • These limits may not be sufficient; they just meet the statutory minimum requirements. Commented Jul 22, 2018 at 14:34
  • 2
    I've never heard of anything more being common in Europe. The limits are fairly high, and sums awarded are significantly lower in Europe than the US. In Norway the coverage is 10MNOK (1.22MUSD), and I've heard about one accident which passed this threshold - a gasoline tanker that crashed in a tunnell... I have never seen more coverage offered either.
    – vidarlo
    Commented Jul 22, 2018 at 16:12

European car rental agencies are required by law to supply insurance to the minimum statutory requirements of their jurisdiction. However, these limits may be insufficient for your personal comfort. Your best bet may be to find an insurer that offers personal umbrella liability policies that cover foreign automobile usage. These policies top up the third party liability coverage on your personal auto and property policies, and add in some coverage, such as this situation, libel, slander, and directors’ and officers’ liability for your volunteer work for non-profit corporations.

While not all have this feature, at least some do. (I am an insurance broker by trade.) Availability may vary by region.

Talk to brokers and agents in your area to see if such a policy is available for you.

  • 3
    This answer is wrong because liability insurance is mandatory in Europe, so the rental company would arrange one.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Jul 22, 2018 at 6:45
  • @JonathanReez Statutory minimum versus sensible limits - completely different things. Having the minimum mandatory insurance is not the same as having enough insurance. Commented Jul 22, 2018 at 13:50
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    @JimMacKenzie e.g. in the UK case what would you consider a sensible limit? there's a statutory minimum of 20 million GBP, and I've never seen a policy with a higher limit. I'm unaware of anywhere in the EU where the statutory minimum is less than millions of euros.
    – gsnedders
    Commented Jul 22, 2018 at 19:39

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