My son and I went fly fishing with family in Montana last week.  We rented a car from Budget.  I insisted that my brother in law be added to the car rental agreement as an authorized driver.  I would not let anyone else drive the car for the week – which meant that either one of us was always the designated driver.  Which is a shame.  I am much more fun when I am drinking.  But that, my sweet readers, is an issue for another blog post……….

I denied the offer for additional insurance from Budget.  I often do this, but not always.  For instance, if I am driving around business associates, I will buy the rental insurance.  It adds another layer of coverage for losses to precious and expensive “cargo.”

But if it is just me, or my own family, losses should be sufficiently covered by my own auto policy.  CAVEAT: If you only have liability or collision insurance on an old car, buy the rental insurance comprehensive coverage.  You may not be covered for all losses if you do not).    My own policy insures all “non-owned” cars driven with the “permission of the owner.”  Since I added my brother in law to the rental contract, I was providing “permission” to the owner.  Who was the owner?  The rental car company!  Not me.

Had I not paid the extra authorized driver fee, and had I not added him as an authorized driver to the rental car contract, any losses incurred when he was driver would not have been covered on my own auto policy.  See,  Huntington v. Nat’l Auto. Ins. Co., 97-2288, 704 So. 2d 389, 391 (La. App. 4 Cir. 1997) (denying coverage under original renter’s own insurance policy and stating that “owner” of car was rental agency and not the original renter) and Avis Rent-A-Car Sys. v. Vang, 123 F. Supp. 2d 504, 509 (D. Minn. 2000).

Although compare:  Garcia v. Geico Gen. Ins. Co., 450 F. App’x 870, 873 (11th Cir. 2012) (if Geico gave its consent to renter, that consent—in the absence of a breach of custody amounting to conversion or theft—extended to any person that the renter permissively allowed to use the car) and Chandler v. Geico Indem. Co., 78 So. 3d 1293, 1302 (Fla. 2011) (under Florida’s dangerous instrumentality doctrine, permissive use granted from the renter shall be imputed to the rental agency and car owner and coverage shall not be denied).

Although the law varies state by state on this issue, it would be imprudent to take such a risk.  I could be liable for breach of the rental car contract if a loss occurred while my brother in law was driving.  For that reason, I always add all potential permissive users at the time of rental.  If a loss occurred, my auto policy would cover such losses and I would not be found in breach of the rental agreement.


Always list all permissive users that you think might drive your rental car.  

The minimal cost to the rental company is worth it.