Summer is peak moving season in the U.S. U-Haul, the moving truck rental company, estimates that nearly 45% of all moves occur between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Three-quarters of all moves are DIY, which puts a massive number of motorists behind the wheels of large, unfamiliar vehicles, U-Haul says.

Done right, DIY moving could save you a ton of money. But do it wrong and you could end up with a dented truck or damaged belongings that aren’t covered by your car insurance policy.

Here is what you need to know to make sure you’re covered when you rent a moving truck.

Key Highlights
  • Moving truck rental agreement or contract typically will include your state’s minimum liability coverage.
  • The cost of the coverage varies from around $14 to $30 a day depending upon the coverage and limit levels you choose.
  • Most credit cards offer auto insurance coverage for rental vehicles, but they typically draw the line at covering exotic cars and moving trucks.
  • Rental truck companies such as Budget truck rentals, Penske and U-Haul offer protection plans that you can purchase.

Your auto insurance doesn’t apply to rental moving trucks

Don’t assume that your car insurance policy extends to a rental truck because it often doesn’t, which is why you need to ask about coverage with the rental company when you rent the truck.

Your moving truck rental agreement or contract typically will include your state’s minimum liability coverage, which is usually quite low – and that’s it. The rental company doesn’t require you to show proof of any other coverage to drive a truck.

Moving truck rental companies make it clear that whoever signs the contract is fully responsible for the truck equipment and any damages, regardless of fault. You’ll be charged not only for the repair costs but also for the loss of income while the truck is out of service.

But, there’s reason to be optimistic. Rental truck companies such as Budget truck rentals, Penske and U-Haul offer protection plans that you can purchase.

The details vary, but they all offer the same basic types of coverages, which usually includes:

  1. Damage waiver: Covers accidental damage to the rental equipment.
  2. Cargo coverage: Covers the goods you’re transporting for damages resulting from a collision, fire, wind and overturning of the rental truck.
  3. Personal accident insurance: Provides medical coverage for injuries from an accident, as well as loss of life coverage.
  4. Supplemental liability coverage: Protects you against claims made by a third party for property damage or liability damage sustained as a result of an accident with your rental truck. Limits vary, but the maximum is usually $1,000,000.
  5. Towing insurance: A damage waiver can include coverage for accidental collision damage to rental auto transport, tow dolly or rental trailer. The towed property coverage will typically cover any car, truck, van, motorcycle, ATV golf cart or lawnmower that is being towed with the rental equipment, up to the policy’s limits.

Should you buy rental truck insurance?

The cost of the coverage varies from around $14 to $30 a day depending upon the coverage and limit levels you choose. Deductibles can apply, and all plans have exclusions, so read the fine print carefully.

For instance, U-Haul’s Safemove coverage has an exclusion for a collision with an overhead object and cut, blown or damaged tires – which coincidentally are two of the most common types of accidents reported by U-Haul. Theft isn’t covered, either, so don’t leave the keys in your moving truck.

Common accidents involving moving trucks

While U-Haul and other major moving truck renters won’t talk about specific accident rates, they are willing to talk about the kinds of accidents their customers usually are involved in.

The most common problem is drivers hitting overhead objects on the upper right-hand side. People don’t realize the height of the truck and crash into awnings, carports, bridges and even the drive-through at their favorite fast food spot. Damaged mirrors and tires and cracked windshields are common as well.

Even the safest of drivers can make a mistake. It can be a costly one if it’s in a moving truck since your personal car insurance usually won’t cover you – nor will any insurance coverage that’s associated with your credit card.

U-Haul says that the majority of car insurance companies won’t cover their rental trucks due to their gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 9,000 pounds or higher. And rental trailers aren’t normally covered by personal auto policies, either.

Most credit cards offer auto insurance coverage for rental vehicles, but they typically draw the line at covering exotic cars and moving trucks.

However, your insured personal vehicle would be covered if it were damaged on a rented trailer during transport if you have collision coverage, but you’d still be on the hook for the cost of the trailer itself.

I’m moving. What are the next steps?

Of course, you won’t be driving the rental truck forever. If you’re planning to move, whether across the country or across town, you should be sure to notify your car insurance company.

Here are answers to common questions about  car insurance coverage during a move:

Do I have to tell my insurance company I’m moving?

Yes. The company will need your new address, and you’ll also need to be sure you still comply with your state’s minimum liability requirements in your new home state. Regardless of the distance of your move, your insurance company will also adjust your rate.

Car insurance companies assess the risk you pose, in part, by where you live, so the cost and frequency of claims your ZIP code are used to determine a base rate, which means that your rates may go up or down depending on where you move.

Check the rates for your new neighborhood where you can see rates by ZIP code for three coverage levels and six age groups

Do I have to switch, or can I just keep the same insurance company?

It depends. If you remain in the same state, you can keep your current insurer. If you move out of state, you may still be able to stick with the same company, provided your insurance company is licensed to do business in the new state you’re calling home. If not, you will have to shop for a new policy.

Check the rates by using our tool will my insurance go up if I move

When should I cancel my old policy?

If you’re changing insurance companies, cancel your old coverage only when your new policy is in effect. Don’t ever leave a coverage gap. If your move involves other life changes, such as getting married or buying a home, let your agent know. You might be eligible for new car insurance discounts.

Check out our detailed guide on When you should (and should not) cancel your car insurance policy

– Mark Vallet contributed to this report.