I am heading out soon with friends for my first trip to Ireland . We will be renting cars to travel around and I am a bit anxious about driving on the left side of the road. As such I want to make sure my insurance is in place. The MA auto policy only covers me when I am driving in the US, Canada and US territories and possessions. It will not respond to any accident I may have while in Ireland. In order to protect my assets I will buy the full coverage (liability and physical damage) from the rental company.
My umbrella coverage (excess liability) is an endorsement on my homeowners policy that will follow me around the world. It provides a level of protection above that found on my auto and home insurance policies. However, my umbrella is a form-following policy which means that it follows the wording of those underlying insurance policies. Since the MA auto policy does not provide me coverage in Ireland neither will my umbrella currently. I need to add a new underlying policy, like the auto insurance offered by the rental company in order to satisfy my umbrella's triggering language. Buying just physical damage insurance will not satisfy that requirement as it will protect the car but will not provide coverage for me for any injuries or damage to other people's property I may cause. I must buy the liability coverage to protect me in those circumstances and to trigger my umbrella. I must also purchase the liability coverage at limits that satisfies my umbrella's required underlying limits to avoid any gaps.
Not all umbrella policies are the same. Different insurance companies may offer different coverage or have different requirements than those found on my umbrella. If you are planning a trip outside of the US you should contact your insurance agent and see how your insurance will respond.