When You Rent a Car, Does Your Massachusetts Auto Policy Provide Coverage?

Posted in Personal Insurance

Your Massachusetts Personal Auto Policy provides you coverage while driving anywhere in the United States, U.S. territories, its possessions, and Canada.  It does NOT cover you in Mexico, Europe or anywhere else in the world.  Therefore, if you rent a car outside of the United States or Canada, be sure to purchase sufficient liability coverage  and physical damage protection directly from the rental company.


  • When renting a car within the MA Personal Auto Policy’s territory (the United States, its possessions and Canada), your coverage limits follow you for bodily injury (to you): Personal Injury Protection, Medical Payments, and Bodily Injury Caused by an Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist.


  • Part 5  on your MA Personal Auto Policy - Optional Bodily Injury To Others - follows you as ‘excess coverage.’  In other words, if you injure someone while driving the rental car, the rental car company’s liability coverage pays first.  Once that bodily injury limit is exhausted, your MA Personal Auto Policy’s coverage becomes available.


  • Part 4 on your MA Personal Auto Policy  - Personal Damage Liability - follows you as ‘excess coverage.’  It also pays after the rental company’s property damage liability coverage is expended.  This coverage WILL NOT, however, pay for damages caused to the rental car itself, nor will it cover ‘loss of use’ to the rental vehicle. Damages to the rental car are covered only if you carry Collision and Comprehensive coverage on your policy.


  • If you carry Collision and Comprehensive coverage on your policy, these coverages follow you on the rental vehicle, provided that you rent a ‘private passenger vehicle.’  For example, a U-Haul type truck or a 15-passenger van (both commercial vehicles) would not be covered.  If you purchase the rental car company’s  physical damage protection, your Collision and Comprehensive coverage are excess over the rental company’s coverage and are always subject to your MA Auto Policy’s deductible.


  • You should always contact your credit card company when renting a car. Many companies provide some Collision coverage if you use their card to rent the vehicle.


Purchasing the rental company’s Physical Damage waiver may still benefit you:


  • Even though your MA Auto Policy follows you,  claims processed through your insurance company take time. Your deposit on the rental car will be held and/or your credit card tied-up until your insurance company settles the claim.  Perhaps spending $15 - $25 a day is worthwhile.


  • The rental company may hold you responsible for the ‘Loss of Use’/’Loss of Rental Income’ to their vehicle while it is out of service. 


Again, many credit card companies offer supplemental insurance coverage for rental vehicles charged using their credit card.  Sometimes these ‘perks’ protect you, and you might not need to purchase a ‘Collision Damage Waiver’ or ‘Loss Damage Waiver’.  However, please check with the bank or credit card company underwriting your card and ask them to explain EXACTLY what coverage they provide and how it works.