Car Rental Insurance—What to Know

Here you’re asking yourself again, “Do I really need car rental insurance?” The answer is probably but NOT ALL OF IT. Before you start rolling your eyes, let us give you the long and short of it. Bottom line is that you need to have insurance coverage to cover yourself and the rental. However, you may already have it. Don’t get caught having to pay a pretty penny (up to $40/day) at the counter before you have to—it’s negotiable. Here’s what you need to know.

Good News: You Could Already Be Covered (mostly)!

Here is how you find out what you do or don’t need before getting sucked into paying for rental insurance—just to get the counter person to stop talking.

STEP 1: Check your car insurance policy—if you don’t have insurance go to Step 2!

If you already have car insurance, you should be covered as long as you have liability, comprehensive, and collision coverage.

Most states require liability insurance which typically carries over to a rental car. As long as it does carry over and you have enough liability coverage, you can deny the rental company’s supplemental liability insurance.

You might want to double check if you have comprehensive and collision insurance since it’s not always required. Many people opt out of these insurance options, especially if they have an older model vehicle or one with high mileage. Comprehensive insurance covers your car in the event of any non-driving related events such as, vandalism or theft. Collision coverage assists with paying for damage to your car from any type of crash.

NOTE: There is still a chance you could owe money in the event of an accident, vandalism, or theft of the vehicle. Often, car rental companies can charge for loss-of-use in the event that a vehicle is out of commission. The loss-of-use fees cover any money the company could have made by renting out the vehicle during the repair process and they could rack up a hefty bill. Ask your insurance policy if that is covered, commonly it is something insurance companies don’t pick up.

** Call your car insurance provider with any questions instead of looking through your policy, they can usually tell you very quickly. You can also use their FAQ section online or chat online with their help representatives.

Step 2: Call Your Credit Card Company

In an effort to make sure you bring their credit card on your trip, credit card companies are now offering secondary car rental insurance as a perk. The catch is, you must pay for the entire rental with that card. There are many credit cards with travel rewards they can be found here: Best Travel Cards of 2017.

Of course, different cards come with different benefits. To find out more, call your credit card company and ask if they have any car-rental-specific travel benefits associated with your card. Be sure to ask if any restrictions apply. Personal Property and Medical Benefits are not covered by credit card companies. However, you may have those areas covered already (keep reading).

**Credit Card companies only provide secondary coverage. These benefits will only fill in the gaps of costs not covered by your personal car insurance (they can include loss-of-use fees). If you want to take advantage of any of these benefits, you will have to decline the rental insurance.

Step 3: Do you have Health Insurance? How far will it cover you?

If your heath insurance covers you anywhere, you don’t need the personal accident insurance provided by the rental company.  If you already have personal injury coverage and medical payments covered through your regular auto insurance—you’re covered.

Step 4: Homeowner’s or Renter’s Insurance

You definitely want to call and check this one. Often, your homeowner’s, or home rental, insurance covers your personal property wherever you take it, including a rental car, on a trip. Before assuming this, call your insurance provider to ensure there isn’t any additional paperwork that must be provided to verify what you’re taking, where you’re staying, or what to do in the event something happens.
As long as you’re covered, you can skip on the rental insurance company’s personal effects coverage.

Step 5: Travel Insurance

OK, we know, you’ve had enough of this insurance discussion. We promise, this is the last step to have all the insurance types covered. If you decided to get travel insurance, check to see if it includes car rental collision coverage. You also want to know if it is primary insurance or secondary. Primary means you will not have to use your regular car insurance policy coverage in the event of an accident. If it is secondary, it will only kick in after the coverage of your regular car insurance to cover anything your primary did not cover.

Decoding the Contract

At this point, we should all know we can’t ignore the fine print. If you don’t know that … DON’T FORGET THE FINE PRINT. Here’s a little help for understanding what all of those acronyms mean that nobody understands—we like to keep it all in once place for you:

LDW/CDW: The loss damage waiver and collision damage waiver. These waivers protect you against any liability in the event your rental car is vandalized, stolen, or damaged in a crash. It is possible these can let you off the hook for loss-of-use charges (fees rental companies can charge you for losing use of the care while it is being replaced or repaired).

Liability/SLI: Liability insurance or supplemental liability insurances are used to relieve you of incurring any personal costs if you damage someone else’s vehicle or property while driving the rental car. It might also cover any medical bills if anyone is hurt in the accident you caused.

PAI: Personal Accident Insurance will cover medical costs for you and any of your passengers in the event you’re hurt in an accident in your rental car.

PEC: Personal Effects Coverage will cover your personal items if they are stolen or damaged in your rental car.

Bottom Line: Do The Research

Just like all other aspects of your trip, you need to do some research. Chances are, you’ll need some type of car rental insurance to be fully covered but you can have peace of mind and fully enjoy your trip. You can check out our great car rental insurance offers, by clicking here, along with our great prices comparing all the best car rental rates wherever you’re going. Quick. Simple. Easy. Thanks for choosing AutoRentals.com!

Great, now you’re informed on the different types of car rental insurance. Want to know when to use each type?

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