Rental car insurance – these 4 tips will stand you in good stead when you drive abroad

Jet along the Côte d’Azur in a convertible, race down Las Vegas Boulevard in an enormous American car or chug through the Kalahari in a four-by-four. Rental cars make these things possible. But how are you insured if you cause damage with your rental car? Our tips will help you to find your way through the confusing world of rental car insurance.

Usually, the answer is no. Personal liability insurance often does not include third-party liability for rental cars. Neither will it pay if you damage your rental car. Certain insurers offer additional insurance for rental cars as part of their personal liability or travel insurance. Often, however, these policies only cover the excess from the rental company’s rental car insurance. It is therefore essential that you check the exact scope of cover of your existing insurance before you rent a car.

A word of caution: you can insure “driving other people’s vehicles” in most personal liability insurance policies. However, this supplement usually only protects you if you borrow a car from a private individual – and even then there are some exclusions to be considered. This additional cover also does not include rental cars. Find out more about this in our guide to third-party drivers.

It is best to take out liability insurance for your rental car directly with the rental company. Depending on the country and the provider, third-party liability may already be included in the price of the rental car – be sure to ask, especially outside Europe, whether third-party liability for the rental car is covered. If you don’t, you may be left with a painfully large bill in the event of a claim.

It is also essential that you check the sum insured. This is because car insurance policies provide different amounts of liability coverage for rental cars abroad than in Switzerland. Depending on the country, they can be very low – and may not cover the whole cost of an accident.

For that reason, make sure that you select the highest possible sum insured for third-party liability for your rental car. And ask your private insurer whether it could make sense to take out additional coverage for the country in question.

If you do not take out additional insurance for your rental car, you must pay for any damage to the vehicle yourself. Usually, however, the rental company offers you optional fully comprehensive insurance for the rental car. This may make the rental price a bit more expensive, but you do not have to pay any additional costs in case of damage – except the excess for the rental car insurance, of course.

As always, the higher the excess, the lower the premium. If you have private additional insurance that covers the excess on the rental car insurance, you can therefore agree a particularly high excess with the rental company and rent the car for less.

If you already have private insurance for rental cars, first of all you should check the exact scope of cover. Does your private insurance only cover damage that you cause with the car? Or does it also include damage to the rental car itself? Is it possible that only the excess of the rental car insurance is covered? Depending on what you have already insured privately, you may be able to do without certain supplements from the rental company.

If you know what cover you need, you should also compare various quotes. Many offers seem tempting at first glance, but on closer inspection they turn out to be of little use – for example, because the excess is very high or the cover is too low in the event of a claim.

When you receive the rental car, check it carefully before you set off. Report any existing damage immediately to the rental company and record it in writing. It is also essential to take pictures of the rental car when you receive it. That way, you can prove which damage was already present when you return the vehicle.

  • Your personal liability insurance usually does not cover you when you rent a car.
  • If in doubt, ask your insurance company about how rental cars are insured.
  • Make sure that you have sufficient coverage for any damage you cause with the rental car and for damage to the rental car itself.
  • Compare offers from different rental companies and pay particular attention to the sums insured abroad.
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Ob mit dem Velo, Auto oder zu Fuss, wenn Unfälle zum Rechtsfall werden, wird es teuer. Der Verkehrsrechtsschutz für alle Fälle.
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