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If you’re a regular Zipcar user, you may wonder whether you require accident protection and insurance coverage to rent a vehicle. The good news is that Zipcar has you covered for the legal requirements of the state you reside in – but what fees will you be responsible for if you have an accident with a Zipcar?  

Zipcar includes basic insurance cover that meets the minimum legal requirements of your renting state. You can purchase a more comprehensive cover with your annual or monthly membership, which lowers or nullifies the damage fee of up to $1,000 that you will be responsible for in an accident.  

Why is it essential to have insurance, and what does Zipcar cover on its various plans? Are there hidden fees you should be aware of, and is there a way to avoid paying for insurance or damage fees with Zipcar car sharing?

Zipcar And Insurance: Why It’s Important

Different car-sharing platforms offer vehicle rentals in the United States, and Zipcar differs from other popular options because insurance coverage is required to book a trip. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however.

To drive a car in most states, it is a legal requirement that some form of vehicle insurance is in place – you need to be able to provide proof of financial responsibility in the unlucky event that you are involved in an accident. Being able to pay for damages, injuries, or third-party costs is not just a legal responsibility but also ensures you are covered if the worst should happen.

Coverage still needs to be in place when renting a car, whether through a traditional rental company or a ride-sharing platform such as Turo or Zipcar. But some things can help you to understand insurance before renting, and this breakdown will make the entire process easier to understand.

What You Need To Know About Zipcar And Insurance

The first and most important thing to know is that Zipcar rental includes basic insurance coverage off the bat. Still, it is not a comprehensive package, and you may want to consider expanding the protection plan.

Does Zipcar Come With Insurance?

Yes, every rental through Zipcar includes fundamental insurance. This coverage meets the minimum required insurance coverage for the state where the car operates. This plan will cover any costs about physical damage, but it only kicks in once your personal insurance cover has been exhausted.

It’s important to emphasize that the insurance only includes covering incidents where an approved driver was driving the Zipcar.

And, if you don’t have any insurance cover, it will still come into play – but it may not be comprehensive in that it covers all the costs. Additionally, drivers are liable to pay up to $1,000 in damage fees; this is paid upfront for any damage to a Zipcar due to an at-fault accident. You may forego this risk if you add a damage fee waiver to your membership annually.

Zipcar offers various degrees of cover over and above the primary insurance, and choosing a higher plan will either waive the damage fee entirely or reduce it substantially. You thus pay a higher membership fee monthly or annually, depending on what type of cover you choose.

Third-party liability coverage is also included in the basic option and Personal Injury Protection, where the state requires. The same applies here regarding the driver’s insurance kicking in first, before Zipcar’s insurance comes into play.

Can You Drive A Zipcar Without Insurance?

It is not legal in the United States to drive a car without some form of auto insurance, and the same applies to renting a Zipcar. However, if you don’t have personal insurance coverage, you can still rent a Zipcar as the company provides the essential coverage required by law in your state.

What this translates to is that even if you don’t have your own insurance, you will be covered in the event of an accident with a Zipcar – but you should know that you may be liable for costs upfront, depending on the severity of the accident and the plan you’ve chosen with Zipcar.

Basic coverage requires that drivers pay the first $1,000 of any claim, with the company covering everything over and above that.

What Happens If You Scratch or Crash A Zipcar?

Insurance coverage isn’t just there for severe accidents or total wrecks; and even minor dents and scrapes can be repaired under insurance. So what happens if you scratch the Zipcar you’re renting or have a little run-in with the curb? Here are the basic steps you need to follow in such an event, according to the policies and regulations of Zipcar:

  1. R the incident by phone as soon as possible using the customer care line (866-4ZIPCAR)
  2. Take a picture of the damage and surroundings that support your claim
  3. File a police report and compile the information required under Zipcar’s Rules of Vehicle Use tab on their website
  4. An incident report form will be emailed to you from Zipcar – follow the instructions therein.

Once you’ve completed the above, you may be required to pay a fee, depending on the coverage you purchased with your Zipcar membership.

What If You’ve Been In An Accident With A Zipcar?

If you’ve followed the above procedure as directed, you’re well on your way to dealing with the often-confusing situation of claiming from insurance. You should know that during this time, the following rules apply as directed by Zipcar:

  • All claims are run through Sedwick CMS, the claims administrator for Zipcar.
  • Processing accident reports and insurance claims can take a few weeks to wrap up.
  • Your Zipcar account will be frozen or suspended while the situation is investigated and the claims process managed.
  • Zipcar will fetch the vehicle in question for inspection and repair and, based on their process, will charge you the relevant damage fee per your coverage option.
  • You will be notified of the outcome of the process and the status of your membership via email once the process has been concluded.

Zipcar: How To Cancel Damage Protection Or Avoid Damage Fees

You cannot entirely avoid paying fees for damage protection when renting a Zipcar. The basic car insurance coverage plan is the least expensive option, monthly or annually, but requires you to pay up to $1,000 should there be any damage to a Zipcar you’re renting.

If you want to be free of damage fees, you will need to opt for higher coverage, which costs more monthly/annually in membership fees. You cannot rent Zipcars without being responsible for paying for either higher car insurance coverage or a damage fee.

However, there are ways to ensure you aren’t charged unnecessarily, including properly inspecting the car when you initially deliver it. Check for any damage and report it immediately before you drive away – this is to ensure you aren’t charged for damages you aren’t responsible for.


Hiring a Zipcar is straightforward because you don’t need to have your own driving insurance. The company includes the basic coverage in their cheapest membership plan, but opting for only the bare minimum means you could be liable for fees up to $1,000 in the event of an accident. More comprehensive cover is available but at a higher membership fee.

It’s worth noting that should you have your own cover while driving a Zipcar, any insurance cover from Zipcar will only come into play once your own has run out.