Does car insurance cover international rentals?

Does car insurance cover international rentals? The short answer to this question is yes and no. Depending on your policy, you may have coverage for rentals in Canada and Mexico but not in other countries. You will need to purchase extra car insurance based on your destination country’s minimum requirements, present proof that you are authorized to drive, and follow the rules of the road.

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D. Gilson is a writer and author of essays, poetry, and scholarship that explore the relationship between popular culture, literature, sexuality, and memoir. His latest book is Jesus Freak, with Will Stockton, part of Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 Series. His other books include I Will Say This Exactly One Time and Crush. His first chapbook, Catch & Release, won the 2012 Robin Becker Prize from Seve...

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years

UPDATED: Aug 6, 2021

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The Highlights

  • Three possible sources of insurance abroad include your regular insurance company, your credit card company, and a rental car agency in the country you plan to visit
  • Your car insurance company may cover you if you plan to drive in Canada and Mexico, but there are special restrictions in Mexico
  • You will need to purchase car insurance in most other countries and carry an International Driving Permit in most countries if you are over 18 years old

If you are planning a trip outside of the United States, you may be wondering: Does car insurance cover international rentals?

More specifically, you may be asking, “Does my auto insurance cover rental cars overseas, does my auto insurance cover rental cars in Europe, or do I need extra insurance when renting a car in Europe?”

The answer to each question depends on your destination country, the level of coverage your regular car insurance company offers abroad, and the types of coverage in your policy.

To be on the safe side, you may need to purchase as much protection as you do at home. If you know how to compare car insurance among the top companies in the U.S., that will help you look for the best coverage abroad.

Read on to learn more about what types of coverage you might need if you will be driving in another country.

Before reading more about if car insurance cover international rentals, look at rates for top insurance companies in your area by entering your ZIP code into our free quote tool above.

Does car insurance cover international rentals?

Depending on your policy, you may have coverage for rentals in both Canada and Mexico. In some cases, you may need to have full coverage to enjoy coverage for rentals in Canada and Mexico. Sometimes, you may need to pay for special coverage for Mexico.

Your Car Insurance Coverage in Mexico

In short, your car insurance does not cover you when you drive in Mexico. Some insurance companies may offer some coverage for rentals, but in most cases, they can only act as brokers for rental insurance.

While you are in Mexico, you will need to purchase extra car insurance. You can buy supplemental insurance if you are using your own car or get insurance through a local rental company.

While you are in Mexico, you should add bail coverage to your supplemental or rental insurance. If you get into an accident and are at fault, Mexican authorities can detain you until they can verify you have enough liability coverage.

Your Car Insurance Coverage in Canada

The laws are less restrictive when you as a U.S. citizen are driving in Canada. For starters, your car insurance automatically covers you whether you are driving your own car or renting a car. Also, you do not need to notify your insurance company that you are driving in Canada.

Additionally, your U.S. driver’s license is sufficient to use in Canada. However, you will need to carry an extra form of identification, like a passport or birth certificate, along with your proof of insurance.

Your insurance card may be enough to drive in Canada. However, it is a good idea to also carry a copy of your full insurance policy.

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Does your car insurance company cover international rentals outside of Mexico and Canada?

Yes, you can get auto insurance coverage overseas, but you cannot use your regular car insurance policy during your travels.

How can you get rental car insurance coverage overseas? There are three methods you should use:

  1. Your car insurance company may use an affiliate or act as a broker for a local car insurance company in your destination country. For example, GEICO works through GEICO Financial Services GmbH in 30 countries.
  2. You may also see if the credit card company you’re using to pay for any car rentals can also provide you with car insurance.
  3. You can get temporary car insurance coverage through a local rental agency, especially if your trip is short.

Now, if you can get car insurance through your credit card company, call that company to find out if:

  • You can get rental car insurance through that company
  • The coverage you will have applies in the country you’re visiting
  • The policy that your credit card company offers meets that country’s minimum requirements

There are more things to know about driving in other countries than insurance. Read on to be fully prepared before you cross the border.

What You Need to Know Before Driving Abroad

Before heading on your trip, you will need to do learn about the rules of the road in your destination, as well as road conditions. You will also need to obtain an international driving permit, if required.

The Rules of the Road and Road Conditions

If you plan to drive overseas, it’s best that you keep abreast of the traffic laws specific to the country you are visiting. For example, which side of the road are you supposed to drive on? Also, be aware of the places where you are authorized to drive.

In some historic Italian cities, be aware that some areas are identified as restricted traffic zones. (Such a zone is called “zona a traffic limitato” or ZTL in Italian.)

Visitors are not allowed to enter ZTLs at times when driving is restricted to residents or emergency vehicles. When visitors violate the rules, a camera will snap their pictures and the visitors are liable for paying fines.

Also, in some countries, the road conditions are so bad that it is not advisable for visitors to use those roads. You should use public transportation in those cases instead.

In other cases, make sure you have to proper documentation to drive.

International Driving Permit (IDP)

Over 100 countries outside of North America accept an International Driving Permit. An IDP is a translation of your current, valid driver’s license in 10 languages. To get an IDP, you must be at least 18 years old, have a valid driver’s license, and present two passport-sized photos.

According to the U.S. State Department, you can obtain an IDP through the American Auto Association and the American Automobile Touring Alliance. You can apply for your IDP through the mail, but you can also get in-person service at a local AAA branch.

Types of Insurance You Need

When driving abroad, make sure you have the following coverage:

  • Collision and comprehensive coverage: This should protect you from being liable to the rental company
  • Liability coverage: You need this in case you are at fault in an accident that results in property damage and injuries to another driver, their passengers, or pedestrians. Consider getting the most liability insurance coverage you can afford
  • Personal Injury Protection and medical payments coverage: This protects you and your passengers should you get into an accident and receive injuries

Some countries might require that you get even more coverage. For example, Italy requires you to purchase insurance to cover possible theft.

Talk to your insurance agent to learn if there is additional coverage you may need in other countries, particularly in Europe.

Also, if you have a personal umbrella policy, you may have coverage anywhere in the world. However, you will still need to pair that umbrella coverage with local auto insurance in another country.

Additionally, you should contact the U.S. Embassy in the country you plan to visit beforehand. The embassy can give you more information about insurance and driving laws in that nation.

Buying Car Insurance That Covers International Rentals: The Bottom Line

Before you buy car insurance that covers international rentals, you need to do some research beforehand. To review:

  • Know about the rules of the road and road conditions in your destination country
  • Carry proof that you are authorized to drive
  • Know what types of insurance you need for specific countries before you go

Ultimately, don’t forget to see what your auto insurance company can do for you before you go on your trip. Talk to an agent to see where you are covered. Otherwise, your insurance company can pair you with a local car insurance company in your destination country.

Hopefully, we have helped you know what to look for if you need to find affordable car insurance that covers international rentals.

Now that you know more about if car insurance covers international rentals, to see rates for top car insurance companies in your area, enter your ZIP code in our free quote tool below.

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