The Ultimate Guide to renting a passenger van as a foreigner in the U.S.

Are you visiting the U.S. from abroad and wondering about rental insurance for a car or passenger van? We know the idea of insurance policies can feel a bit daunting. In this post, we’ll break down the basics of rental car insurance (and vans, too!), touching on topics like why rental coverage for non U.S. citizens is so important, coverage options, and the best way to obtain it without breaking the bank.

Insurance is an essential part of road tripping. Stick with us as we convey everything you need to know about coverage while renting a passenger van or car for your upcoming U.S.A. road trip.

The basics: What is rental car insurance coverage and why is it important?

At its core, rental car insurance is an insurance policy that financially protects you in the event of an accident, damage, or theft while renting a car or van. 

Rental coverage for non US citizens can be obtained through the company you are renting from. For example, if you are renting a passenger van from Greenvans, we have several insurance options suitable for foreign drivers

Types of rental car insurance options available

Rental coverage for all renters, including non U.S. citizens, is a legal requirement. 

A quick Google search about rental car insurance might leave you feeling more confused than ever. Don’t worry. Here’s a breakdown of the five rental car insurance types available with Greenvans.

Primary liability insurance

Primary liability insurance is required by law in all U.S. states. Foreign auto insurance policies don’t provide the required coverage, with the exception of most Canadian policies.

Drivers with non-U.S. insurance can purchase liability coverage through the rental agency. It covers the cost of bodily injury and property damage to others, up to the limits as indicated by the policy. Damage to the rental car or van itself is not covered, and the driver may still be responsible for a deductible in case of an accident.

Renter’s Collision Protection

Many agencies, including Greenvans, require Renter’s Collision Protection in addition to primary liability insurance as the policy covers damage to a rental car itself. In case the driver backs up into a telephone pole, experiences a hit and run that results in damage to the van, or gets into an accident with another vehicle where the renter is at fault, the driver and the agency are protected.

Supplemental Liability Insurance (SLI)

In the event of an accident that damages a third party vehicle or harms a third party pedestrian or driver, SLI gets to work. The costs of medical claims and vehicular damage can rack up quickly, and SLI coverage will kick in when costs exceed the limit of the primary policy.

Note that there may be exclusions, especially if the damage arose from prohibited use of the rental car or van. To avoid unwanted surprises, read your rental agreement carefully.

Personal Accident Insurance (PAI)

Personal Accident Insurance (PAI) provides coverage and financial protection for medical expenses, accidental injury or death, and ambulance services for the renter and passengers in the rented vehicle. 

When activated, there will be a small deductible for each claim and an Accidental Medical Expense and Ambulance fee of $1,000. Coverage in the event of accidental death will range from $10,000 to $100,000 and extends to the authorized driver’s immediate family.

Personal Effects Coverage (PEC)

If you’re traveling with valuables, including personal luggage, camping or skiing equipment, or expensive music and production gear, you might want to consider PEC. This is an optional insurance coverage that reimburses you for lost or stolen personal items kept inside the rented vehicle during an act of theft, vandalism, or an accident. 

Greenvans offers PAI and PEC as a combined package.

The requirements for renting a passenger van for foreigners in the U.S.

Let’s simplify the process of renting a passenger van in the U.S. There’s not much work involved and the requirements are easy to procure. Need extra help? Contact the team at Greenvans any time!


Just to reiterate, all renters need to provide proof of Primary Liability Coverage and Renter’s Collision Insurance and both must meet U.S. requirements. These mandatory types of insurance cover the cost of medical and property damages done to a third party and the rental vehicle. 

Greenvans offers four coverage policies in addition to primary, as well as a comprehensive package option.

Have a valid credit card in your name

Debit cards may not be accepted at some rental companies. This is due to several factors, notably the ability to run a credit check and the practice of holding funds as a security deposit. A renter must present a valid credit card under his or her name in order to rent a passenger van or car in the U.S.A.

Have a valid passport

A valid passport serves both as an international form of ID and proof that you are visiting the country legally. You can’t rent a car without one!

Driver’s license requirements for non-US citizens

All foreign driver’s licenses must use the Latin alphabet and be valid for at least 12 months prior to rental. If your license was issued in a language such as Russian, Arabic, or Japanese, it’s best to get an international driver’s permit.

International driver’s permit (IDP)

An IDP is not always necessary, but it is recommended for foreigners driving within the U.S. If your license is printed in another language, an IDP will act as a translator. 

Before traveling to the U.S., check your rental company’s international driving policy. Clarify which states you’ll be driving through and what their local requirements are. The State Department suggests contacting each state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

Age restrictions for renting a passenger van

The age limit to rent a passenger van ranges from 18 – 21 years. This depends on the company you rent from and the state you’ll be renting in. Read our complete guide on age limits for renting a passenger van in the U.S. 

Some agencies will add a young driver surcharge for renters under the age of 25. Greenvans does not charge this fee, we only require that drivers be at least 21 years of age with a valid driver’s license and proof of insurance. 

Read through the insurance package options to know exactly what they offer.
Photo by Cytonn Photography.

Insurance coverage options: understanding the packages, add-ons, and limitations

When it comes to insurance, you’ve got options. Sometimes it feels like you have too many options! 

To avoid purchasing unnecessary policies, we’ve broken down the most common coverage choices, add-ons, and the limitations of each.

Differences between basic and comprehensive insurance packages

What is the main difference between basic and comprehensive rental car insurance packages? A basic rental car insurance typically covers essential risks and perils, such as damage from collisions and theft. These packages may have limitations on the extent of coverage, discounting protection against a range of potential hazards.

On the other hand, a comprehensive insurance package offers protection on a broader range of incidents apart from collisions: fire, vandalism, weather damage like hail, and falling objects. These policies still may require a deductible and generally do not cover damages due to off-roading or driving under the influence. 

Greenvans offers a comprehensive insurance package that includes:

  • Primary liability insurance
  • Renter’s collision insurance
  • Supplemental liability insurance 
  • Personal effects insurance
  • Personal accident insurance 

Additional add-ons for increased coverage

If you don’t want comprehensive coverage but do want a bit more than basic, consider an add-on for increased protection.

Add-ons and additions are usually charged per day, and can range from $10 – $30, depending on the vehicle, the policy, and the location.

Exclusions and limitations of insurance policies

Don’t skip the fine print! Check the policy for the following:

  • Exclusions, including limitations for damage or incidents related to off-road driving, driving under the influence, or unauthorized use of the rental vehicle.
  • Limitations, including maximum coverage amounts, deductibles, and specific conditions for coverage. (For example, coverage for windshield damage may come with specific limitations.)
Be prepared for anything with car rental insurance.
Photo by Pixabay

Tips on choosing the right insurance coverage

We know you want to make the right insurance decision. Here are a few tips on choosing the right coverage for your trip.

Research and compare insurance options before renting a passenger van

With your budget in mind, compare the benefits of purchasing a comprehensive package with those of a basic package with only the necessary add-ons. 

If you plan to rent a 15-passenger van with Greenvans, keep in mind that both primary and collision insurance are required for foreign renters, and the comprehensive may make more financial sense if you plan to add supplementary coverage.

Ask specific questions about coverage with the rental car company

When renting a car or passenger van, speak with a customer service rep for clear answers to the following questions:

  • What do I need to rent a van from you? 
  • Are there additional documentation requirements for foreign drivers?
  • What kind of insurance do I need to buy?
  • What happens in the event of an accident?
  • Is there a special policy for long-term car rentals with a foreign license?
  • What type of license and documentation is required to drive in New York State/California/Florida, etc.?

Consider purchasing insurance through a third-party provider for better rates

There are some online insurance providers that promise lower rates on rental car insurance, like Allianz Global Assistance, Bonzah, and Protect Your Bubble. Keep in mind that purchasing a third-party policy can be risky. 

Greenvans puts a lot of thought and research into choosing the insurance policies best suited for our vehicles and our renters. We provide the most competitive rates, so talk to us about our different options before booking elsewhere. 

Driving rules and regulations: things to know as a foreigner in the U.S.

Getting behind the wheel in another country can be intimidating. For peace of mind, get to know the rules of the road in the U.S. before you go. 

Check the laws of each state you plan to travel through, as they may vary. With a general understanding of the guidelines, your driving experience in the U.S.A. will be much more relaxed.

Driving tips for a road trip in the U.S.

  • Familiarize yourself with road signs and markings: Signs in the U.S. might differ not only in language, but also in design. Before pressing on the gas, review road signs like directional, prohibitory, and informational, and get familiar with lane markings on highways, urban and residential areas.
  • Know the speed limits: Keep an eye out for posted speed limit signs while on the road, as the limit can change without much warning. Memorize the basic speed limits in residential areas, highways, and city blocks according to the state you’re in.
  • Understanding right-of-way rules: Yielding, roundabouts, and pedestrian rights in the U.S. differ from those in South America, Europe, and Asia. Become clear on what to do at 4-way intersections and when merging on a highway. Check with the local guidelines in each state you plan to visit for information on pedestrian laws – for example, cars must stop for pedestrians any time, anywhere, in New Jersey.
  • Important traffic laws: Speed limits, DUIs, seatbelts, and texting while driving are laws taken very seriously in most parts of the U.S. 
  • Right on red: If you are at a red light, you have the legal option to turn right as long as there is no prohibitory sign, no cars or pedestrians crossing, and you’ve come to a complete stop. 
  • Parking regulations: These vary from state to state, town to town, and even within cities themselves. Some locations use meters and others use apps for payment, while many locations are free parking zones during particular hours. Avoid illegal parking zones by paying close attention to the street markings and signs.
  • Adjusting to opposite lane driving: All states in the U.S. drive on the right-hand side of the road. 
  • Understanding U.S. traffic light systems: While the U.S. follows the standard red, yellow, and green color system, you will also find that larger intersections have dedicated left turn signals. Only turn left when the green light indicates that you can do so. 
  • Be aware of school zones and reduced speed limits: Tickets in school zones are much higher than anywhere else. Always check the speed limit signs in case you are passing through a school zone unaware. 
  • Using navigation apps and staying alert: GPS and Waze are excellent navigation tools, but they don’t always tell the whole story. Stay alert of signs and traffic patterns and try not to rely solely on an app.
  • Weather conditions and road closures: This is especially important during winter season, rainy season, or in areas like California and Colorado where road closures are frequent. Follow each state’s traffic hotline on the radio or social media to keep up to date on changes. 
  • Emergency numbers and roadside assistance: Dial 9-1-1 for emergency while in the U.S. For roadside assistance, your rental agency and insurance will provide you with an emergency number.

Resources for state driving laws: For more information and state-specific regulations, check AAMVA’s Resource Guide for Non U.S. Drivers and’s Non-Citizen Driving page.

Renting a passenger van with Greenvans

Since 2015, Greenvans has been renting 15-passenger vans for leisure trips, church groups, and touring bands from all over the world. We know exactly what foreign renters want to know and what insurance policies work best for non-US citizens. 

Greenvans requires all foreign drivers to purchase primary liability insurance and renter’s collision when renting a 15-passenger van. In addition, we offer three add-ons: supplemental liability insurance, personal effects insurance, and personal accident insurance, the latter two which are bundled as one single coverage.

What’s covered

  • Primary liability insurance covers damage and injury to a third party. 
  • Renter’s collision coverage covers damage to the van.
  • Supplemental liability insurance covers beyond the limits of a primary insurance policy.
  • Personal effects insurance covers the personal belongings of the renter and passengers.
  • Personal accident insurance provides medical, hospital, death, and dismemberment benefits for bodily injury resulting from an accident.

What’s not

  • Primary liability insurance does not protect the rental car from collision damage, theft, loss of personal effects, or injuries to the renter or passengers.
  • Renter’s collision coverage does not protect against theft, loss of personal effects, or personal injuries.
  • Supplemental liability insurance does not cover the rental car itself, personal effects, or personal accident insurance.

What happens in the event of an accident or claim?

Step #1: Call the local police or 9-1-1 if the situation warrants medical assistance or in the event of theft.

Step #2: If it’s an accident, collect license and insurance information from other drivers involved.

Step #3: Get a written statement of the accident. A police report will cover this.

Step #4: Submit a claim through our third party insurance provider. 

The customer service reps at Greenvans are friendly and available around the clock. If an incident occurs, contact our emergency line immediately and someone on our team will walk you through the claims/accident procedure.

Frequently asked questions about renting a passenger van as a foreigner in the U.S.

Can a non-US citizen rent a car in the US?

Yes, a non-US citizen can rent a car in the U.S. as long as the renter can show a valid driver’s license, passport, proof of insurance, an international driver’s permit where applicable, and meets the required age limits.

Can a non-US citizen get car insurance?

Yes, a non-U.S. citizen can get car insurance for a rental car through their rental agency. Insurance options can be basic or comprehensive, with an array of add-ons available to supplement your policy. These include Renter’s Collision Insurance, Supplemental Liability Insurance, Personal Accident Insurance and Personal Effects Coverage.

Do I need additional insurance when renting a car in the USA?

Yes. You will need to purchase primary liability coverage and renter’s collision insurance, especially if renting a 15-passenger van instead of a car. 

Coming from Canada? Most Canadian insurance will extend to the U.S. Check with your provider to confirm.

Can I add a foreign driver to my car insurance in the USA?

Yes, in many cases you can add a foreign driver to your car insurance in the U.S.A. Requirements will vary depending on the provider. Some may ask for an international driver’s permit (IDP), proof of driver history and credit history. Rates might be higher for foreign drivers. Contact your insurance company directly to clarify.

How much is rental car insurance per day?

The average cost of rental car insurance per day ranges up to $90. Additional supplements can range from $10 to $30 each, per day. 

Greenvans offers insurance policies that range from $65 – $85 per day, depending on location.

Will my driving history in another country impact my insurance rate in the U.S.?

According to State Farm “when you don’t have a driving history established in the U.S., you’re considered a “new driver.” This will result in higher rates. So, your personal history won’t carry over to the U.S., insurance companies will charge you as if you had no driving record at all. 

Can I use an international driver’s permit without a license?

No, you can’t use the international driver’s permit without a government-issued driver’s license. The document is designed to accompany your license and cannot be issued as a standalone document.

What should I do if I get in a rental car accident?

If you require emergency assistance, call 9-1-1 right away. If not, contact local authorities to file a police report. This will be necessary for your insurance claim. Then, contact your rental agency’s emergency number. They will guide you through the proper steps to set your insurance policy into effect.

Get your rental coverage for non U.S. citizens with Greenvans – here’s your free van rental quote!


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