We are U.S. expats visiting the U.S. for a few months. What is the most reasonable way to obtain car rental insurance other than buying the insurance through the car rental company?

  • 1
    If you own a car abroad, they might offer an extension to you current policy that would cover driving in the US.
    – DTRT
    Mar 29, 2017 at 21:47

3 Answers 3


Depending on where you currently live, an option is car hire excess insurance. I have one of these policies and for an annual fee it covers any number of rentals throughout the year. It covers the amount that you would be liable to presuming you take the minimal insurance offered. I had a hire car stolen which would have cost me about 2000 Euro and the car hire excess company paid it off directly to the rental company in days. The annual policy cost less than 100 Euro. I probably rent for 100 days a year.

Rather than giving you a direct link to a sample company, I suggest you do a web search for car hire excess insurance in the country you live.


One possible way is to use a credit card that offers their own insurance for car rentals. Of course this is only possible if you actually have such a credit card, but it's worth checking your cardholder agreement to see whether yours does.

If you are covered this way, it is usually automatic when you use the credit card to pay for the rental, and no other steps are necessary. Note, however, that these schemes commonly require the renter to expressly decline any expanded coverage on offer by the rental car firm,

  • 3
    This is good advice, but it's important to check the fine print. Your card may provide coverage for damage or loss to the rental car, but not for your liability in an accident. There may also be limitations on long-term rentals, if you plan to rent a car for months at a time. Mar 29, 2017 at 21:01
  • Unfortunately, few cards outside the USA offer insurance.
    – user58558
    Mar 30, 2017 at 6:41

The easiest way to get insurance for material damages is to use a credit card which offers this automatically. This is available on many credit cards starting at a certain level. These often comes with an annual fee yet it is one of the most valuable advantages. It does not take many rentals to recover the costs.

Terms vary by credit cards but most that offer insurance will do so on the condition that you charge the entire amount of the rental to the credit card and that you refuse the insurance offered by the rental agency. This is important to get coverage. There are some limitations, including some countries where the insurance is not valid, but this would not be the case in the US. I've used dozens of cards over the years in the US and they have never questioned its validity. For completeness, in Europe and South America, several times, a rental company demanded a credit card hold to accept the its insurance (several thousands dollars so having the credit available is important).

There is a chance you already have insurance. Many personal insurance policies cover rental of a vehicle in your home country and abroad. Check if this is the case for you. They will usually have a limit of duration and vehicle value, so that you may not be covered if you rent a car which is much more expensive then the one they are insuring. Again, you must read your own policy to very which rules apply.

There two other types if insurance you must be aware of. One is Civil Liability which covers damages made by the car to other things or people. The second is Personal Injury. Credit cards generally do not cover these but personal insurance often does.

If you are not eligible for credit card or insurance from your provider, then the easiest way will be to get it from the rental agency. The premium will be relatively high but the claim process will be a lot simpler than if you were to try to deal with a third-party neither you nor the agency knows.

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