Are you planning to rent a car on your next vacation? You have several options for getting proper insurance coverage. Here’s what you need to know about auto insurance to be sure you hit the road with peace of mind.

Which auto insurance should you choose?

If you’ve ever rented a car, you know how much insurance drives up the price—it can sometimes cost as much as the rental itself. It’s essential, however, that you purchase insurance against damage—with or without a deductible—as well as against injury and property damage to others.

Should you pay for the car rental agency’s insurance? Maybe, if you have no other choice, but you have other options when it comes to insuring a rented vehicle.

Personal auto insurance

If your personal auto insurance includes Endorsement Q.E.F. 27 “Civil Liability for Damage to Non-Owned Automobiles,” you’re covered for damage to the rented vehicle, but only in Canada and the United States. This coverage is the same as if you were driving your own vehicle: it includes the same options and deductibles. If you don’t have it, check with your insurance company to find out how much it would cost to add it. The No-Stress Policy, available exclusively to CAA-Quebec members, includes this endorsement.

Your car insurance also includes civil liability protection, i.e., it covers damage to other people, whether physical injury or material. The amount of coverage may not be enough, though. You should have it increased to at least $2 million for the duration of your trip. This way, you’ll be better protected in the event of a claim, especially in the U.S., where lawsuits are definitely not to be taken lightly.

If you’re renting a car outside of Canada or the United States, you will have to opt for another insurance, since your car policy only covers you in these two countries.

For more information on the protection available for road travel within the United States, read our tip Heading for the United States by road? Travel with peace of mind!

Insurance provided by your credit card

If you pay for the car rental using a credit card, check to see if it offers insurance. Credit cards often provide insurance that covers damage to rented vehicles. Civil liability protection is rarely offered, however.

You should check the scope and conditions of this insurance, however. Is it valid for a limited time? Does it cover vandalism? For the insurance to be valid, do you need an International Driving Permit (you should have one regardless)? If the protection is not sufficient, you’ll have to consider another solution.

Insurance from the car rental agency

Rental company insurance is often expensive. If you have sufficient coverage with your car insurance or credit card, decline it. If you don’t have a choice, it’s often cheaper to choose the prepaid plan, which you’ll purchase before you leave.

Depending on the other insurance you have, you may need protection only for civil liability or damage to rented vehicles. If this is the case, make sure you don’t pay twice, and have the protection you don’t need removed. In Europe, for example, both insurances are generally included in the base price of a car rental.

You’ve been injured in a car accident?

For injuries sustained in a car accident anywhere in the world, you would be compensated by the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ), regardless of whether you were at fault. The SAAQ would cover the extra expense related to your hospital stay in case of an accident (the portion not covered by the Régie de l’assurance-maladie du Québec, or RAMQ).

You would be able to claim all the compensation to which you are entitled upon your return to Quebec. Your stay abroad must not exceed six months (it must be less than 183 days, to be precise).

In all cases, you are strongly advised to purchase travel insurance that includes medical and hospitalization coverage before you leave. This insurance could save you plenty of administrative headaches if you are hospitalized while in another country. As a bonus, you’ll also be covered for medical costs other than those stemming from an automobile accident, which often exceed the amounts reimbursed by the RAMQ.

Renting a car with Turo

Looking to use a car-sharing platform such as Turo? Before reserving, you will have to choose the coverage that suits you or decline it. The options vary depending on the country where you rent the vehicle. So be sure to understand the scope of the protection before making your choice. Your personal auto insurance or that offered by your credit card may be sufficient in certain circumstances, as we mentioned earlier.
What documents should you bring with you when travelling?

  • Car rental contract
    Keep all the papers relating to the details of the car rental transaction with your other travel documents: they are proof of what you’ve agreed to and booked.

    Print out your rental contract, carefully read the conditions regarding the time and place you’ll be picking up and returning the vehicle, as well as fees that could be requested at the agency (e.g., eco-tax, extra amount for a second driver, or for a driver aged under 25).
  • Copy of your auto insurance policy’s Endorsement Q.E.F. 27 (if applicable)
    Kep with you a copy of your Quebec auto insurance policy’s Endorsement Q.E.F. 27. This endorsement is found at the end your insurance contract. Likewise, a summary of your coverage can be found on the back of your proof of insurance—the one you put in your wallet.
  • Proof of protection provided by your credit card (if applicable)
    Ask your card issuer to send you the necessary written proof.

Whether you opt for the protection offered by your auto insurance policy’s Endorsement Q.E.F. 27 or that provided by your credit card, remember to ask for an English version of your documents. You can show them as needed.