Should You Buy Rental Truck Insurance?

Group of friends unloading boxes out of moving truck that they obtained with rental truck insurance

Yellow Dog Productions / DigitalVision / Getty Images

If you are an experienced car renter, you know that your credit card and personal car insurance policy will likely cover you while you drive and that it typically makes financial sense to skip the coverage the rental car company offers you.

But, does that same logic apply when you are renting a truck such as a U-Haul?

Unfortunately, it does not. Before you rent a moving truck and stick all of your stuff inside, it pays to know your rental truck insurance coverage options.

How Do I Know If I Need Rental Truck Insurance?

The first thing you should do, well before you are in the U-Haul parking lot, is check with your car insurance agent. Unlike rental cars, which are typically insured under your car insurance or credit card, it is likely that your car insurance policy specifically doesn’t cover rental trucks or tow-alongs over a certain weight.

What Is Typically Included in Rental Truck Insurance?

There are several different types of rental truck insurance, and they all protect you from different things. Many rental truck providers have their own insurance products that are customized to fit the needs of their rental customers, but they typically include several components.

Damage Waiver

A damage waiver, as the name implies, means that you won’t be responsible for any damage you accidentally cause to the vehicle. This coverage is usually subject to a list of exclusions.

Medical and Life Coverage

This will cover up to a certain amount of your (or your passengers’) medical bills in the case of an accident, and up to a certain amount of payment if you or one of your passengers is killed in an accident.

Supplemental Liability Insurance (SLI)

Protects you up to a certain amount if you damage another person’s property.

Though you should check on your policy’s specifics, your personal car insurance’s personal liability coverage will likely still apply, so you may not need to purchase this coverage if you have car insurance.

Cargo Coverage

Covers up to a certain monetary amount of things in your rental truck if they are damaged in an accident or from an act of nature, such as a fire or tornado.

Auto Tow Protection

This coverage is available for tow-along u-hauls and the like and covers them (minus a deductible) in the event of an accident or act of nature.

How Much Rental Truck Insurance Coverage Do I Need?

Sometimes, it feels easier just to go with the most comprehensive coverage option available to you. Make sure to check with your car and home or renter’s insurance policies before you buy additional coverage. For example, your home insurance might cover your stuff that’s inside of the truck, or your car insurance might cover your liability coverage.

What Does My Rental Truck Insurance Cover?

It depends on the plan, but your policy will generally cover any damage accidentally caused by you or an authorized driver, as well as damage that occurs to passengers or your stuff (if you’ve purchased that coverage option).

It’s important to note that most policies will not cover damage caused by hitting an overhead object (like a bridge or a tree branch), so you need to know your rental truck’s height and avoid any bridges that are shorter than your rental truck. Most policies also don’t cover mechanical damage caused by incorrectly shifting gears, either.

Can I Drive a Rental Truck Without Car Insurance?

It depends on the rental truck company. But whether or not they force you to buy rental insurance, you definitely should.

One way to think about this is to understand that rental truck coverage itself technically is not insurance–it’s a waiver. By purchasing coverage, the rental truck company agrees not to come after you for any financial damage you do to their truck. Ask yourself if you really want to risk entering a costly legal battle with a large company before you think about foregoing coverage.

Aside from legal battles, you will also be risking damaging your beloved stuff or causing damage to someone else. It’s not worth it to save a few bucks in the short-term.

Where Can I Buy Rental Truck Insurance?

The easiest place to buy coverage will be wherever you are renting the vehicle. It is worth looking over the insurance options on the rental company’s website before you rent.