4 Best Options for Rental Car Insurance in Europe

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If you are from the USA and renting a car in Europe, you must ensure you have adequate insurance coverage. Driving without rental car insurance in Europe is irresponsible and can expose you to significant potential costs if you get into an accident. Luckily there are many different options for you to obtain insurance when traveling internationally. We walk through 4 of the best options to obtain coverage and the limitations of each.

Does my car insurance company cover me in Europe?

Usually, your domestic car insurance company will NOT provide you with rental car insurance in Europe. Your car insurance will typically only cover you while driving in the United States and potentially when you are traveling abroad in Canada or Mexico. You should always talk to your insurance company to confirm your international coverage, however, in Europe, you will typically need to obtain car insurance by other means.

Can I drive without rental car insurance in Europe?

No, you should always get car insurance when traveling in Europe! In fact, in most countries, it is not legal to drive without insurance, including in a rental car. In addition to breaking the law, however, driving without rental car insurance can also expose you to significant risk. If you get into an accident without insurance, you may need to pay out of pocket to reimburse your accident victims.

4 Ways to Get Rental Car Insurance in Europe

Although we walk through 4 options to obtain rental car insurance in Europe, you will likely need to use some combination of these options. Read on for the key differences and limitations of each rental car insurance option.

1. Through Your Credit Card Company

Many travel-related credit cards now offer complimentary rental car insurance as a perk when booking the rental using your card. To ensure you receive this coverage you will want to review the terms from your credit card company very carefully. For example, your credit card may exclude certain makes and models of rental cars or may not cover you in certain countries. Prior to relying on insurance issued by your credit card, you should always speak with the company directly. Your credit card company will walk you through any unique coverage limitations and exclusions.

Many credit card companies also typically only offer insurance for damage to the car you are renting. While this can certainly be helpful in the event of an accident, this coverage is typically capped and is not broad enough to fully cover you. Importantly, this insurance usually doesn’t cover your liability, which is typically the most expensive cost in an accident!

While rental car insurance through your credit card is certainly a nice, value-added perk, you will likely need insurance elsewhere to obtain full coverage. For a list of credit cards with rental car insurance, see The Points Guy’s article on the subject.

2. Standalone Insurance Policies

You can also purchase standalone rental car insurance from several different companies. This car insurance is designed specifically for rental cars and is usually billed by the day. Standalone insurance policies can be a great option for rental car insurance in Europe as they allow you to select the exact insurance coverage you need, typically at more affordable rates than purchasing through your rental car company.

One potential option for standalone rental car insurance is Allianz’s Rental Car Protector.

3. Through Your Rental Car Company

In the EU rental car companies are required to include liability coverage in the cost of the rental by law. Liability coverage helps reimburse the medical bills and repair costs of any accident victims you hit. While the included liability coverage will usually be too low, most rental car companies will give you an option to purchase additional coverage.

In countries without liability coverage laws, you will need to confirm with your rental car company whether liability coverage is included in the cost of the rental. If coverage is not provided, almost every rental car company will sell you insurance. Buying rental car insurance through your rental company can be an easy option, but it is also typically the most expensive way to obtain rental car insurance.

4. Umbrella Insurance

Many of the other rental car insurance options in Europe either provide low-limit coverage or don’t fully protect you in an accident. Umbrella insurance can be a great way to supplement other insurance and can help provide full protection when renting a car internationally. While it does not usually make sense to purchase an umbrella policy solely for international coverage, if you have an existing umbrella policy it will cover you while abroad.

It is important to note that if you have an umbrella policy, the primary claims coverage required by your umbrella insurer will still apply. For example, most umbrella insurance policies require you to have $300k of liability coverage. If you fail to purchase any rental car liability coverage while in Europe and get into an accident you will need to spend $300k out of pocket on a loss before your umbrella insurance kicks in.

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