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insuring rentals overseas with a credit card

a primer to swiping plastic

Credit card rental car insurance. It's a mouthful that is worth looking into before you begin your adventure. Since U.S. auto policies typically won't cover you abroad, your credit card could step in to help cover the unexpected. We have 5 concrete questions to ask before swiping that plastic at the rental car counter.

Car insurance through your credit card company

Did you know that Visa®, MasterCard®, American Express®, Discover®, and other card companies provide rental car coverage?

Before you book your rental car, call the number on the back of your credit card. If you book the rental with that card, your card company might offer insurance coverage.

5 questions to ask before you go


Am I covered in my destination country?

Your credit card company may offer coverage only in certain countries. Before you book your rental, call the number on the back of your credit card to find out if you're heading to a country that isn't covered.


What kinds of coverage do you provide?

Some credit card companies provide coverage for collisions or theft (sometimes called a collision damage waiver), but there may be specific clauses and exclusions that are worth looking into.

Ask about liability insurance. As in the U.S., this coverage can be extremely valuable (if not legally mandatory) in case you're found at fault in an unexpected car accident. Other coverages, including medical coverage for you and passengers, are also worth considering.


Is your international coverage primary or secondary?

Some credit card brands offer only secondary coverage, which means it kicks in only after your primary coverage. So if you're traveling in the U.S. or Canada with a card offering only secondary coverage, your regular car insurance covers you first. If you're traveling elsewhere abroad, the coverage from your credit card becomes primary since U.S. car insurers (including Esurance) typically don't extend coverage beyond the U.S. and Canada.

And if you're heading abroad to rent a Land Rover for some desert 4-wheeling or a Ferrari for a joyride, be sure to check with your credit card company. Some exclude coverage based on the rental vehicle type, including exotic cars and even luxury cars or SUVs.


What are each coverage's limits?

On top of the right coverage types, you also need the right amount of coverage. If you're not comfortable with the amount of coverage your card carrier provides, consider your alternate options: insurance through your rental car company or temporary insurance through a licensed provider.


Is there a fee for using the card company's insurance?

American Express, for one, offers added car insurance abroad in exchange for a flat fee. If your carrier offers this protection (which can include liability, medical payment coverage, and non-collision coverage), ask whether the flat fee is per day or per rental.

If your credit card company doesn't offer insurance abroad

Many rental car agencies require a credit card to secure the rental car. Before you drive off and begin your adventure, make sure you have a clear understanding of the insurance coverage you have or don't have. That way you can supplement your coverage at the counter (or through a third-party provider).

How your U.S. car insurance travels

Check with your insurer to determine whether your coverage travels with you.

Esurance (like most other car insurers) extends its coverage throughout the U.S. and Canada. If you're traveling to Mexico, we also partner with the International Insurance Group, Inc. (IIG) to help drivers secure short-term car insurance south of the border. Start shopping at our international car insurance page to get the ball rolling.

If you're moving to Canada, not just visiting, Esurance still makes getting car insurance refreshingly simple. Alberta residents can simply get a free quote from Esurance Canada. And if you live in another province, you can shop for affordable Canadian coverage with our trusted partner.

Related links

Car insurance in Mexico
Get the scoop on short-term car insurance south of the border.

Driving in Mexico
Read up on the hazards of the Mexican roads.

Your U.S. car insurance in Canada
Find out how your coverage makes the trek with you.

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