What Is Road Trip Insurance? (and Do You Need It?)
Bags packed. Car gassed up. Sunglasses on. Playlist loaded. You’re road trip-ready. Wait — what about road trip insurance? Do you need to buy a special travel insurance protection plan for your car, your passengers and your stuff?
We’ll let you in on a secret. There’s no such thing as road trip insurance, in the sense of a short-term car insurance policy that’s for road trips. However, it is smart to assess the insurance you’re carrying and ask yourself if you’re fully protected.
Here are a few scenarios in which you might need trip insurance for your travels on the open road.
Road Trip Insurance When You Don’t Have a Car Insurance Policy
What if… you’re renting a car for a long summer road trip, and you don’t already carry liability insurance because you don’t normally drive?
In this case, your best bet for road trip insurance may be a non-owner car insurance policy. This is low-cost insurance that gives you liability coverage when you’re borrowing, renting or sharing a car. This coverage is limited, however. It covers other drivers’ injuries and property damage, if you get into an accident, but not yours.
Will it Cover Damage to my Rental Car
What if… the rental car agent is pushing high-priced collision insurance, but you just don’t want to pay an extra $25 per day?
You don’t want to spend your summer road trip worrying about keeping your rental car pristine. It’s usually a good idea to carry some kind of collision damage waiver — coverage that protects you in case your rental car is damaged, vandalized or stolen. But you don’t have to pay the rental car company’s rates!
Instead, check your credit card to see if you automatically get free rental car protection. Many include some kind of coverage, although you’ll need to read the details and dollar limits carefully. If you don’t have rental car coverage through a credit card, shop around for a low-priced plan from a travel insurance provider.
Does Road Trip Insurance Cover Car Theft?
What if… you worry about someone breaking into your car while you’re traveling?
On a road trip, you’ll probably be carrying lots of valuable items in your car: tablets, phones, cameras, etc. If you’re renting a car, the company may try to sell you something called personal effects coverage. The coverage will cover the theft of items from the rental car.
Wait! If you carry homeowners or renters insurance, it probably covers theft from your car. Call your insurer to check, and ask about dollar limits, too. You’ll want to make sure all your electronics and other expensive items are covered.
Will it Cover an Emegency Trip Cancellation?
What if… you like to plan ahead, and so you’ve already booked your hotel rooms and a few fun experiences for your road trip, like horseback riding in Jackson Hole or a riverboat ride in Memphis?
If a lot of those costs are non-refundable, you may want to think about getting trip cancellation insurance for your road trip. Trip cancellation, which is part of many travel insurance plans, can reimburse you for your pre-paid trip costs if you have to cancel unexpectedly. So, for instance, if you break your leg and you have to cancel your summer road trip because your doctor tells you that you can’t drive, you could file a claim to get back the money you’ve already spent on hotel rooms.
Road Trip Insurance for Your Peace of Mind
What if… you’re driving your whole family across the country, and you want to make sure everyone is fully protected in case of an accident?
Let’s say you currently carry the minimum car insurance required in your home state of Virginia. $25,000 for the bodily injury/death of one person, $50,000 for the bodily injury/death of two or more people, and $20,000 for property damage. But you’re about to drive both your parents and your baby sister to California for a family reunion. You know that’s just not enough coverage for everyone. It might be a good idea to shop around for a better policy — and the easiest place to do it is Compare.com. Enter your info and compare quotes from several U.S. insurers to see who’s offering the best deal.