Caveat Emptor - DO NOT get caught out.
You can only tell if vehicle hire insurance is adequate by reading all the fine print carefully, carefully checking re ANY point that is not 100% + clear and then asking a few careful questions about worst case claims that other people have encountered.
As regards international situations as opposed to purely US, it is common for hire vehicle insurance to be incomplete and to have exceptions which may result in major costs to the hirer in some circumstances. Worst case these may amount to the full value of the vehicle plus recovery and other charges.
While such draconian situations may be uncommon, few people would want to expose themselves to such risks. @Andrewmh20 noted that credit cards may include excess patment insurance if used to pay for vehicle hire BUT if relying on this it is also essential to check the relevant fine print. Such offers may have a limited upper amount and this may be far lower than the worst case costs.
All the above is based on my own personal experience of vehicle hire. I have hired vehicles in NZ (home country), Australia, USA, UK and Europe. Of these the most astoundingly bad terms were for Australian vehicle hire insurance taken out in Australia with Australian companies. Insurance taken out with the SAME companies NZ branches before the visit was made excluded the very unfavourable terms. Insurance taken out with NZ companies for the Australian car hire never had the unfavourable terms. Examples of worst case terms included:
- Payment of all costs for single vehicle accidents if additional cover not mentioned in any documents was not taken out.
- Payment of all costs for immersion regardless of cause with NO opportunity for this to be covered by insurance at all.
- Payment of all costs for damage caused by driving under ledge, truck tailgate, parking barrier etc.
- Payment of all costs for underbody and rear end damage (some companies only).
In Australia in country areas collisions with kangaroos are common (usually at dawn & dusk but can be any time.) This is a single vehicle accident.
Australia has "common enough" flash floods, and fords suddenly deeper than expected. While unlikely, pulling over on an unstable narrow road to let others past COULD end up causing immersion damage if a road edge collapsed.
A major camper hire company told me, when I asked, that they had quite a few single vehicle camper accidents per month. (Possibly from wind effects on large side areas of campers). These people would in most cases be sadly surprised at their liability.
My credit card company offered excess cover but it came far short of worst case liabilities.
Taking out insurance with a NZ insurance company on an Australian hire BEFORE making the trip to Australia produced insurance with reasonable terms, limited maximum liabilities and LOWER all up cost.
YMMV. Don't let it.
Variations in Australian & NZ car hire
It appears that the Ozzie insurance industry as a whole are a pack of Vicious gouging thugs when operating in Australia and offering insurance on cars used in Australia. ie For car use within Australia they offer everyone a shocking deal dispassionately whereas NZ companies offer a 'fair' deal. The same companies when dealt with from NZ offer better terms and lower rates for Australian car use to people booking from NZ. BUT ALL companies trading in NZ & offering insurance for car use IN NZ do not have the onerous terms offered for Australian use. I did not check combinations shown with ? below.
- A / N = Australia or New Zealand.
Country of Car use
|. Insurance company home base
|. |. Country of operation
|. |. |
A. A. A Vicious gouging thugs
A. A. N Acceptable terms
A. N. A ?
A. N. N Acceptable terms
N. A. A ?
N. A. N Acceptable terms
N. N. A ?
N. N. N Acceptable terms