There is still a debate over whether a personal auto policy covers a rental car. When you are going on your summer vacation, the last thing you want to think about is any insurance liability. When you get to the car rental counter, they will offer you rental car insurance. The question you should have had answered before you get there is whether you need this optional coverage.

Most personal auto insurance policies also cover rental cars. That means you have the same coverage driving a rental that you do when operating your own vehicle. So your personal liability coverage is the same, as is your med-pay, uninsured motorist, etc. All coverages will transfer. Of course, that is the same for anything you may lack. If  you have homeowners or renter’s insurance, any personal items stolen from the vehicle will be covered up to the policy terms.

Of course, the rental car company is primarily (or only) interested in your comprehensive and collision. That’s what covers the vehicle you are driving. If you damage the vehicle, you are still responsible for the deductible. If you are renting an exotic vehicle, and RV, or some other non-traditional vehicle, you will probably be required to purchase the rental company’s own insurance regardless of your own policy. You may also be liable for any loss-of-use. One other caveat: Many insurance companies do not offer coverage in foreign countries.

Credit cards can offer rental car protection as well. There may be some exclusions, such as driving on unpaved roads, damage to rims or tires, or rental of full-size SUVs, trucks, etc. Some companies have a maximum days covered, and you will likely not be covered for loss-of-use, either.

Be sure to understand whether or not your personal auto insurance policy will be in effect when driving that rental car. Of course, your best resource for that and other coverage questions is your insurance professional. They will go over all of your insurance policies and tell you what coverages you can expect. Enjoy your road trip!