Carnegie Mellon University

Rental Cars FAQs

The answer depends on several factors, including what your relationship is to the university (e.g., whether you are a university employee, student, visitor or other), whether you are traveling within or outside of the U.S., whether you are renting the vehicle in the U.S. through a university preferred supplier using a program code, and similar factors.  

For example, typically you don’t need to purchase any additional comprehensive and/or collision insurance to cover damage to the rental car if you are a university employee or a university student and you are renting a car for university business travel in the U.S. through a university preferred rental car supplier using the business program code.  This insurance coverage is already included in the rental price through arrangements made directly between the university and the preferred rental car supplier. 

Insurance Services can provide guidance on the purchase of insurance coverage(s) offered by the rental company for a particular circumstance.  Insurance Services can be contacted by email at or by contacting Diane Patterson, Manager Insurance Services, at 412.268.4286 or   

See the summary of common rental car abbreviations.

Travelers are not to be reimbursed for purchasing pre-paid refueling options for rental cars being charged to a federal award. Therefore, travelers should refuel prior to returning the rental vehicle to the drop-off location. However, if it is not possible to refuel completely prior to returning the vehicle because of safety issues or the location of closest fueling station, travelers will be reimbursed for vendor refueling charges.

If a vehicle is rented with a preferred supplier, but the renter does not use the required university program code, the renter does not have access to the insurance coverages that are included in the pre-negotiated rates and rights and benefits with that supplier. In the event of an accident, incident or claim for damages, the renter and the DDFR must work with Insurance Services to coordinate any claim payment and/or reimbursement.  Any resulting costs, including insurance deductibles, will be charged back to the department responsible for the travel or may not be reimbursed/paid.  

Travelers should rent the standard size vehicle for university business.  Upgrades are permitted if they are free or with a valid business justification (number of travelers, luggage accommodations, etc.). Upgrades greater than $75 also require DDFR approval, including upgrades to luxury and/or high performance vehicles. Rentals of passenger vans that seat more than 12 passengers should be avoided for safety reasons.    Additionally, if individuals would like to upgrade a vehicle and pay for the upgrade personally, this is acceptable as long as the reimbursement request is for a standard size vehicle.  

Luxury and/or high performance vehicles are not covered under existing university insurance policies. Pre-approvals from Insurance Services and the DDFR are required. If approved, the cost of any additional insurance required and other associated incremental costs will be charged back to the department.

Travelers who are not employees or students (e.g., visitors, guests, recruits, consultants) are not covered under university insurance policies. The traveler should purchase required insurance through the rental company.