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Road trips can make for an amazing adventure, even if it’s only for a short amount of time. But even short road trips don’t guarantee that you won’t encounter an accident or vehicle damage on the road.

Whether you’re planning a romantic weekend getaway in your local region, or heading overseas to hit the open road, it’s important to be well-prepared with car insurance for the many unexpected things can happen.

And don’t fall into the trap of thinking that if it’s your car you don’t need car insurance! On the contrary, you might actually need it more so.

Heading on a Road Trip? Consider These Things When Taking Out Car Insurance

Consider Your Deductible

A car insurance deductible is the amount of money you have to pay before your insurance covers the rest. For instance, if you have $300 worth of damage and a $600 deductible, you will pay all of the repairs. If you have $3,000 worth of damage and the same deductible, you will only have to pay $600 toward the repair.

Your insurer only pays for damages above your deductible, so this is an important detail to consider when choosing your car insurance. Higher deductibles often mean access to cheaper insurance, where-as lower deductibles might see your insurance become more expensive.

So it’s a matter of balancing out what you’re financially able to cover if you do find yourself in an accident, with the amount you’re able / willing to pay to make sure you’re covered.

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Personal Liability

You expect that your car insurance will cover damages to the car, but what if you’re in an accident which causes harm or injury to another person?

Not all car insurance covers personal liability, but this can be incredibly important, especially if driving in a litigious country like the United States of America where harm / injury is often cause to sue.

Personal liability applies when you are found legally liable to pay compensation for death or bodily injury or physical loss or damage to someone else’s property as a result of an accident.

This includes legal expenses, and the cost of bodily injuries or damage to the property of another person/s, as a result of a claim made against you.

Don’t Be Pressured by the Rental Company

Rental companies are known to pressure you into purchasing additional insurance at a premium. While you should certainly drive with insurance, you probably already receive enough coverage through your current insurance plan.

If driving overseas, review your current insurance policy to see if you have overseas coverage. You might even already qualify for insurance coverage through your travel credit card (we do with our Chase Sapphire Preferred).

Even if you do end up needing extra insurance for your car rental, there are third party options that are generally cheaper than the one provided by your rental company.

The US was made for iconic roadtrips. Anyone with a car can go anywhere, and the nice thing about this mode of transportation is that the journey is the destination in itself – a road trip is an adventure!

Be Aware of the Terms and Conditions

It’s important to be aware of both the terms and conditions of your car rental, as well as your insurance policy. For instance, many US car rentals disallow travel across the border to Mexico, and if you’re found to have breached this condition your insurance will be void.

You’re also unlikely to be covered by your policy if you were found to be driving outside of the law, for instance driving under the influence of alcohol, or texting while driving.

As road rules are vastly different from country to country, it is of the upmost importance to make sure you’re aware of the rules of the road. Ignorance is no excuse and will not form part of a successful plea to an insurance company.


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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.



  1. Thanks!

    • You’re welcome, glad the post was helpful :)

  2. Helpful. Hadn’t thought about personal liability.

    • Personal liability is such an important one to be covered for. Glad the post was helpful Charli :)

  3. I was amazed, we rented a car recently and they wouldn’t accept my credit card because it had a small $1,000 limit. I don’t know what you would possibly do in that situation if you didn’t actually have a card with a higher limit that could cover a possible damage claim. Something to keep in mind too!

    • Oh wow really??! Good to note!

  4. Yep don’t go into Mexico with a US rental. They have location tracker in the cars and will catch you.

    • Definitely not worth the risk. At that point it’s just as easy to fly in and rent a car within Mexico itself :)

  5. I’m always pressured by the rental company – their scare / sell tactics are on point!

    • Yes they can be very pushy sometimes! But stay strong! If you’re already covered just say no thanks :)

  6. Comparing car rental companies is about as fun as a colourblind person playing Twister.

    • Haha love the metaphor. Agreed though!

  7. Thanks for explaining the whole deal with deductible. I usually go for really cheap policies with really high excesses, but might rethink that.

    • You’re welcome Kellye, glad it was helpful :)

  8. One thing I always do with every rental car is take lots and lots of pictures – I swear I probably spend 10 minutes circling the car before driving out, but it’s so important and it saved me many hours of headache when Avis billed me $518 six months after the rental was over for a golf-ball sized hole in the front bumper. I sent them the photo I had taken showing the bumper damage at pickup and the issue was quickly resolved.

    • Absolutely S, we do the same. I’m glad that your situation was quickly resolved – I do take a lot of photos, though I generally don’t keep them for that long, so I won’t delete them after each trip from now on.


  9. When I rent, I usually rent the economy class of vehicles. If something should happen, maybe damages would not be as costly. One thing i recently noticed, a mid size car was cheaper to rent than a compact or economy car. Maybe they do that so they can reap the benefits if there is an accident!

    • Interesting thinking – maybe!

  10. I always turn down the rental insurance in the States, but I was glad we decided to pay for it in England. Narrow roads, grassy shoulders, meeting another car, both cars pulling off into the grass to pass, and, wouldn’t you know it, our rental car became intimately involved with a large, hidden rock lurking in the grass. Our thinking was that the hassle of potentially trying to deal with any damages from abroad justified paying for the insurance. Good decision that time!

    • Yikes, glad that you were covered at the time!!

  11. Recently splurged for the “full package” coverage in Dominican Republic after reading endless horror stories on TripAdvisor. Driving didn’t turn out to be bad at all (at least where I went). Then again…I’m used to the craziness of Colombian roads!

    • I’m glad it turned out to be safer than you expected, I haven’t driven in Colombia before but I can only imagine! Always better to be safe than sorry with full coverage :)

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