With rates like that every day, they must think I'm a drunk who always drives on the wrong side of the road. Have they even checked my driving record? So, I never get it. Why? Because my insurance agent told me I'm already covered, and many of us are. Besides, I rent the car using a credit card, which also provides rental car insurance.
Is that extra fee sometimes recommended by rental car agents really necessary?
|Item||Rental Insurance||Personal Insurance||Credit Card|
|Damage to rental car||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Damage to other cars||No||Yes||Possibly|
|Damage to property||No||Yes||Yes|
|Damage to people||No||Yes||Possibly|
A little pre-planning with your insurance agent can get you to say what I say: "No, thank you. Your daily rate is outrageous.", "I think a lot of people don't know" about coverage, says Don Bennett, owner of Sage Insurance in St. George. "That's the biggest problem. Every time someone rents a car, they're just not aware of what the coverage is."
Bennett says most people don't pay for the extra insurance and take the chance that they won't get into a wreck.
"It's much better to ask a few questions in advance and know where you stand should an accident occur," Bennett says.
The car rental agencies offer what's called a collision damage waiver. It covers damage to your rental car at rates from $15 to $25 every day. But it doesn't cover the damage to other cars, property — or, worse, people. And neither will your credit card.
That's why you should ask your insurance agent about whether the liability from your personal auto insurance will extend to your rental car. In most cases, it will.
"If you don't have comprehensive and collision coverage, the only coverage is property damage and bodily injury, through your negligence," Bennett said. "If you do have comprehensive and collision, that will extend as well."
But your deductible also extends to the rental car. If you have a $1,000 deductible on your personal car, that will also be the case with your rental. That's where your credit card comes in handy.
"Your credit card insurance would pick up that first thousand dollars in damage for you," Bennett said.
Here's another fee car rental agencies tack on after an accident: the "loss of use" fee. They'll zing you for every day the car was in the shop and they couldn't rent it out.
Now, the rental agency's own collision damage waiver covers that. But it's another question you should ask your insurance agent first.
"If your personal auto insurance doesn't pay loss of use or administrative fees, your credit card rental insurance may pay those," he said.
Discover Card does not, but Visa, Mastercard and American Express do. But here's the thing: The rental agencies have to show they didn't have other cars available to replace the damaged one. I know from experience they won't always tell you that, while tacking on the fee. They once told me it was standard practice in the industry. Here's another thing to consider: theft.
The collision damage waiver won't cover you if your rental car gets stolen, so see if your own auto insurance or credit card will cover that. If you are covered for theft, your policy might also say if you are careless with your own car or a rental, you're not covered.
"Like any personal vehicle, you want to lock the doors, take the keys out, that sort of thing, otherwise you run the risk of not having that coverage," Bennett said.
Here's another thing: If you wind up buying that car rental-offered overpriced insurance, you may actually be hurting yourself when it comes to credit card insurance. Bennett says credit card companies find out if you bought that rental insurance, and then the credit card won't have to pay.
If you do use your credit card and expect insurance coverage, the credit card must be the one issued to the primary renter of the car. If you rent a pick-up, SUV or luxury car, credit card insurance won't work — but still your personal insurance might.