Do I Need Zipcar Insurance? How Does Coverage Work?

Do I Need Zipcar Insurance? How Does Coverage Work?

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If you’re renting with Zipcar, know that the car-sharing company always provides the legally required amount of insurance for their users, so you don't necessarily need to buy coverage to drive. However, you may want to supplement Zipcar's basic coverage to ensure you're protected in case of a crash. If you already have your own insurance, your liability insurance will likely apply while driving a Zipcar; however, collision and comprehensive usually will not.

Zipcar insurance: liability and other legally required coverages

You'll automatically have at least the legal state minimum of insurance coverage whenever you drive a Zipcar. Minimum car insurance requirements vary by state, but may include:

  • Liability coverage for bodily injury: pays for medical treatment if you're responsible for someone else's injuries in a crash; often split into per-person and per-accident limits.
  • Liability coverage for property damage: pays for repairs of someone else's vehicle if you're responsible for damaging it in a crash.
  • Personal injury protection/medical payments: pays for the cost of your own medical care in a crash, regardless of who is at fault.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage: pays for your own medical care and vehicle repair if the other driver is at fault, but doesn't have adequate car insurance coverage.

Each of these coverage types will also have a dollar limit associated with it. For example, if you rent a Zipcar in Texas, you'll have at least 30/60/25 liability limits: bodily injury liability coverage of $30,000 per person and $60,000 total per crash; plus, property damage liability coverage of $25,000.

When you signed up changes your coverage level

Whether you receive more than the state minimum amount of coverage from Zipcar depends on when you signed up, as the liability protection provided in the Zipcar contract has changed over time. If you signed up for before March 1, 2015, you have a single combined liability limit of $300,000 — that includes bodily injury and property damage coverage, with no limits on how the funds are disbursed.

If you signed up between March 1, 2015 and July 31, 2018, you have 100/300/25 liability coverage. That means in any accident where you are at fault, Zipcar's insurance will cover up to $100,000 of medical coverage per person that is injured, up to $300,000 total; plus, up to $25,000 of damage to property such as another car.

Drivers who signed up after Aug. 1, 2018 receive only state minimum coverage.

However, all drivers under 21 always receive only the state minimum coverage, regardless of when they signed up.

Liability insurance coverage provided by Zipcar

Driver age
Join date
Liability coverage amount
Over 21After Aug. 1, 2018State minimum only
March 1, 2015 - July 31, 2018100/300/25
Before March 1, 2015300k combined maximum (BI/PD)
Under 21AnyState minimum only
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Can I use my own liability insurance with Zipcar?

If you already have a car insurance policy, it will generally protect you while driving a Zipcar — carrying higher liability insurance limits on your own policy can offer extra protection in case you're in a crash. However, we recommend confirming with your insurer that Zipcar is included, as some insurance companies may not protect you.

In addition, if you want more coverage than Zipcar provides but don't have your own insurance policy, you may consider a non-owner car insurance policy from an insurance company. A non-owner insurance policy is especially designed for someone who doesn't own their own car, but frequently borrows or rents a vehicle and wants to have a consistent level of protection when they do so.

Note that credit card rental car benefits never include liability coverage.

Zipcar insurance: coverage for vehicle damage

If a Zipcar is damaged while you're renting it, you'll be responsible for the costs of repairing the car, up to a certain amount. This fee is called the damage fee waiver, and how much you'll pay after a crash depends on what level of damage fee waiver you've added to your membership.

Zipcar damage fee by membership level

Fee waiver level
Monthly fee
Damage fee maximum
Standard$0 (included in membership)$1,000
Plus$5$350
Premium$9$0
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You can also add a damage fee waiver for an individual trip at a price of $2 per hour, with a daily cap of $9. This eliminates the damage fee for any accident.

Keep in mind that while renting a Zipcar, you're financially responsible for all damage to the car, even if you did not cause the damage or it was not due to a crash. This includes things like flat tires, hail damage and theft. The only exception is if another driver is at fault in a crash, in which case you will be able to make a claim on their liability insurance.

Does my own car insurance cover Zipcar vehicle damage?

Your own car insurance policy may or may not cover damage to a Zipcar. If you don't carry collision and comprehensive coverage on your own policy, you definitely won't be protected. If you do carry these coverages on your own policy, it's possible that they will apply to rental cars; there is sometimes an additional fee for this extra protection. The only way to be sure that you're covered is to contact your insurance company.

Does a credit card rental benefit cover Zipcar damage?

Some credit cards come with a benefit called a collision damage waiver (CDW) or loss damage waiver (LDW). When you rent a car from a car rental agency using that credit card, you receive a certain amount of loss damage protection.

Whether these benefits will apply to a Zipcar depends on the terms of the credit card agreement. It's essential that you check directly with your provider to confirm that Zipcar rentals are covered; don't assume that you are protected.

Additionally, keep in mind that credit card car rental benefits often have specific details that vary by policy, and they don't work the same way as a typical car insurance policy. For example, many have a limit on the length of rental, and some may not even cover every type of vehicle. Read the terms of your insurance policy or credit card benefits guide carefully to ensure you're adequately protected.

Matt is a Technical Writer at ValuePenguin who works on distilling the complex details of insurance into accessible advice. He previously created educational content at Grovo Learning and MarketSmiths Content Strategists. Matt's consumer-focused analysis of insurance has appeared in publications like CNBC, Yahoo Finance and the Miami Herald.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.