Travel Tip: How Car Insurance Works When You Travel

We interviewed Gurdeep Singh from Budget Car & Truck Rental – Calgary to get the scoop on how to make sure you're covered when driving a rental vehicle.

Researching travel car insurance probably isn't high on your to-do list when planning a vacation. Your first thought may not be

What if I get into an accident driving a rental car?

However, accidents can happen anywhere. Making sure you're covered is something that should definitely cross your mind.

You don't want to be responsible for covering the cost of a rental or other damages if you DO get into an accident while travelling.

So, how does travel car insurance work?

The first thing that you need to know is that there's a difference between coverage and insurance, although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably.


Often referred to as Loss Damage Waiver or Collision Damage Waiver, coverage is what you can purchase to reduce your responsibility to pay for damages to your rental vehicle.

Rental car coverage can be purchased or obtained in several different ways:

  • From the rental company itself
  • As a perk through your credit card company
  • Via a third-party company
  • Through your car insurance company


Insurance is what covers loss or damage and bodily injury to third parties, be it people, property or another vehicle in the event of an accident.

Travelling in Alberta? Car rental companies are not permitted to sell insurance in Alberta. As per Alberta’s vicarious liability law, the operator of the rental vehicle is now the primary insured in the event of a claim. In other words, your personal car insurance policy transfers to the rental vehicle in the event of a claim.

Follow these steps to make sure you're fully covered while travelling:

(Even if you have a clean driving record and you're convinced you won't get into an accident on vacation.)

According to Budget Car & Truck Rental – Calgary, it's important to do your homework to make sure you're protected:

You wouldn’t want to leave that to chance because accidents happen. They happen every day, and regardless of whether it’s your fault or another person on the road, you want to have that peace of mind that you are covered.

— Gurdeep Singh, Budget Car & Truck Rental – Calgary

It might cost a little bit to make sure you have the right protection, but it'll cost you a lot more if you get into an accident and you aren't adequately covered.

Step 1. Make phone calls to find out where you stand.

If you have a credit card, call the company or look over your terms of service to see if you're covered through them. Many credit cards that charge a yearly fee include rental car coverage as long as you pay for the rental using your card.

There may be restrictions based on the length of rental, the value of the vehicle, and the type of vehicle as well as restrictions on claims reporting in terms of how soon you call in the claim.

They also may or may not cover administration fees and/or loss of use from the car being out for repairs.

Next, call your car insurance company to let them know you're travelling and plan on renting a vehicle. Make sure that your policy will transfer over to a vehicle you don't own, especially if you're travelling abroad.

Many policies don't work internationally because of the dangers of driving in a country with different rules and languages.

Keep in mind that if your rental car is newer and more expensive than the car your policy covers, you may need to purchase extra coverage to make sure you aren't on the hook for the rest of the value of the rental in the event of a claim.

Travelling for business? Be clear when making calls if you're travelling for business, pleasure, or both. Sometimes coverage and insurance work differently for business-related travel.

Step 2. If you aren't covered, purchase the protection you need.

At the end of the day, your goal is to make sure that between your credit card, a third party, or the rental company, you have enough coverage for the full value of your rental.

You also want to be sure to understand how the claims process works. This way, if you do get into an accident you'll pay as little as possible out of pocket.

In terms of insurance, you want to make sure your policy will transfer over to the rental vehicle. If you're travelling internationally, you may need to purchase separate insurance.

Step 3. Enjoy your trip knowing you have peace of mind!

Researching travel car insurance and rental car coverage can be a bit of a headache, but it's more than worth it to know that you're protected if the unexpected happens.

Get an estimate before you park.

posted August 13, 2019

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