1

I'm planning on renting a car in France for about one month. I live in the United States and my insurance company (State Farm) states that their coverage does not extend beyond the U.S. and Canada.
My question are

  1. what sort of insurance should I get? Or does the car rental normally cover insurance? I presume I need the equivalent of liability and collision?
  2. What special terms (in french) should I be looking for to make sure I'm covered?

I feel like I need to know this beforehand. Here, in the United States, car rental companies almost always try to get you to purchase some extra "collision" insurance. Normally, your standard auto policy already covers you.

I don't plan on getting in an accident, but obviously a complete loss of the car would be very expensive.

Bonus question :) Good ways to rent cars in France (Uzes region). Lease? Major car rental company?

UPDATE Based on Peter's very useful comment, I went digging into the details of my Costco Citibank Visa card. It looks like it covers damage to the rental car, but not to other cars and not damage to people:

"We will cover You up to $50,000 toward the cost of repairs or the cash value of the car, whichever is less, if a covered accident or theft occurs when You pay for a rental car with Your Citi® Card and decline the rental company’s collision loss/ damage insurance."

This seems like a good start, but I'd still be on the hook for damage to other cars/people.

UPDATE 2 (for future readers but check if laws have changed!) So the comments/answers below suggest that some credit cards cover collision and theft and I found that to be true. That leaves liability. It appears that in France at least, liability insurance is included in the car rental price and must be by law. See for example: https://www.autoeurope.com/travel-guides/france/france-car-rental-insurance/ and in particular the quote "When renting a car in France it is required by law that drivers carry unlimited third party liability insurance, and as a result it is automatically included in the price of all car rentals." So, I think I'm all set except for the nagging detail that my two credit cards have... You are covered for collision/theft if you rent for 31 days or less. And of course, we need the car for 32 days :)

4
  • 2
    Do you have a credit card that offers rental car insurance? EG Amex
    – Peter M
    Jun 1, 2023 at 1:53
  • Thanks @PeterM ! I updated my question to show what I found based on research prompted by your comment. As you can see, it looks like if I use my credit card, I'm covered for damage to my car. But there is no mention of covering damage to other cars/people in the event the accident was my fault.
    – Dave
    Jun 1, 2023 at 16:32
  • You might want to contact them directly and ask about 3rd party insurance suggestions. Or you could apply for an Amex (or other card that you prefer) just for the trip /s
    – Peter M
    Jun 1, 2023 at 16:34
  • 1
    Check out my Update 2 @PeterM ! Liability is included in rental price.
    – Dave
    Jun 1, 2023 at 18:40

2 Answers 2

7

In France, car insurance is typically attached to a car, not to a driver. So when a French resident rents a car in France, even if they have a car at home, they often don't have insurance that would cover them when driving a rental car.

Liability insurance (i.e. insurance that covers damage to others, excluding damage to the car you're driving or to the driver) — “garantie responsabilité civile” — is mandatory for any car that's in a driveable state. So normally the owner of the car, i.e. the rental company, has this insurance (since by law, they must have it even when the car is in the lot waiting to be rented again). There may be exception for long-term rentals (I'm not sure: it may be only when leasing to own), but for a short-term rental, liability insurance is always included in the base rental fee, and the rental company must provide proof (which you must have in the vehicle at all time: police may stop you to check for proof of insurance and a driving license).

Liability insurance may be restricted to named drivers. You typically need to list the names of all drivers when renting the car, and there may be additional fees for extra drivers.

Rental companies generally offer an optional insurance covering damages to the vehicle. It's typically not particularly competitively priced compared to shopping for third-party insurance. Third-party insurance tends to be a hassle for a short rental but might be worth it for a longer rental.

You may have coverage from certain credit cards, or from your insurance at home in certain countries, so check your policies.

2

The same is true all over Europe. Rental car companies have a price for the rental only and an additional daily fee for insurance. Often there are even various insurance offered such as liability, road hazard, etc. These can easily double the price of the rental since the base daily-rate is usually priced competitively. Of course, you may accept one of these which is the simplest but also likely to be the most costly option.

The cheapest insurance is one that is free. Many credit card companies offer this as an incentive, provided that you charge the entire rental on the card and that you decline the insurance offered by the rental agency. Check if you have such coverage already applicable. If you do not, and your credit rating allows, I suggest you apply for such a card. Even with an anual fee, the savings are well worth it. What happens often though is that the rental agency will insist and take a block on the card to cover potential damage. The last time, they blocked €5000 on my card which requires that credit to be available.

The middle ground is to get insurance from a third-party which is not always easy to get outside of your home country. So, while in the US, you'll have to contact insurance companies to get a quote. What you are looking for is specifically rental or hire car insurance. I don't have a particular one to recommend but a few Google search and you'll have plenty of options available.

Lastly, there are some OTA that offer car rentals and also have their own insurance. I've only used it once and it worked out well. Basically, you search for your car rental through an online travel agency and watch for optional insurance through the website. The time I did it, they even sent me an entire document about how the rental car company will offer me other unnecessary insurance and what to answer!

2
  • Thank you @itai ! I updated my question to show what I found out regarding my particular credit card. As you can see, they seem to cover damage to my rental car, but that still leaves me liable (I think) for damage to other cars/people in the event an accident is my fault. Does your credit card give more generous coverage?
    – Dave
    Jun 1, 2023 at 16:34
  • Additionally regular Travel Insurance provides insurance cover for rental vehicles (but not private vehicles). The last one I used required me to get the minimum rental agency cover (was I think a few dollars per day on top of the rental price) and then the travel insurance gave me any/all additional cover for the rental car. They specifically exclude private vehicles, so won't cover you if you just borrow a friends car etc.
    – Midavalo
    Jun 1, 2023 at 17:03

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .