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Renting a Car on Vacation

Auto Insurance

By Samantha Lemna | May 6, 2019

Whether there is a lack of public transit your destination is off the beaten path or you want the freedom to explore renting a car is a great option for getting the most out of your vacation. You have the flexibility to go where you want when you want – as long as you can figure out how to get there! This article breaks down the frequently asked questions our brokers get about renting a car while on vacation.

Do I need an international driver’s license?

Whether or not you need an international driver permit (IDP) will depend on the country you’re traveling to as well as your current residence and driving status in Canada. Many countries require an IDP as well as a current driver’s license.

The Canadian Automobile Association embassies and good travel agents should be able to help you with the license requirements of your vacation destination. Make sure you have what you need before you leave for your trip or pay for the rental car!

Does my car insurance cover a rental car?

Your car insurance will only cover a rental car if you have a special endorsement on your policy. This extends your car insurance to any vehicle you drive (unless it is used for business purposes).

Talk to your broker about your options. If you rent regularly it may be worth adding this coverage to your personal car insurance.

Doesn’t my credit card cover rental cars?

Somecredit cards do offer coveragefor rental cars however it’s important to understand the terms and conditions. There are often limits to this coverage. If they provide rental car coverage you will need to pay for the rental car with the credit card. Then you’ll usually have a collision damage waiver which limits how much the rental car company can get from you for repairs. However many cards do not include liability coverage which is a key part of your insurance.

The best course of action is to find out if your credit card offers coverage and read the full terms of coverage. That way you can compare it to what is offered by the rental car company – and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to still have rental car coverage on your personal car insurance to cover any gaps.

Will I need insurance from the rental car company?

If you do not have the coverage on yourpersonal car insurance it is recommended that you purchase the insurance. This can be tricky as some rental car companies offer poor insurance given the price. Even if the coverage is adequate it can be quite expensive.

If you rent often it’s best to add coverage to your own car insurance policy.

How can I protect myself while using a rental car on vacation?

  • Document.
  • Take photos and videos of the car when you sign the rental agreement. Make note of any scratches dings and the state of the interior of the car.
  • Document it again before you hand the car over.
  • You’ll also want to keep your reservation and insurance information handy.
  • Follow the rules.
  • Know what the rules of the road are for your destination and follow them.
  • Avoid speeding.
  • Pay special attention to the parking rules.
  • Park securely.
  • Park in a safe secure well-lit location if you can.
  • Drive carefully.
  • Leave 4 seconds following distance and don’t drive distracted.
  • If you’re lost pull over where it is safe to figure out where you need to go.
  • What happens if there’s an accident?

    Even if everyone is okay you may want to contact the police for proper documentation. You’ll also want to write down the following:

    • The date and time of the incident.
    • Weather conditions.
    • What happened.
    • The information of the other driver including their name address vehicle description license plate driver’s license number insurance company and policy number.
    • The name and contact information of any witnesses.

    Of course this isn’t always possible especially if there is a language barrier. Make sure you take photos and video of the incident and damage . If you were able to get a police report make sure you get a copy.

    Your next step will depend on your insurance and the extent of the damage. It’s a good idea to inform the rental company as well as your own insurance company (or credit card company) depending on how you arranged your insurance coverage. They will be able to help you through the claims process.

    Make sure you keep any receipts and communications. Get any requests or demands in writing. You may want to wait for the insurance company to confirm if you should take action or pay for something before you hand any money over.

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