Renting a car is stressful enough. When you walk up to the counter to get a car, possibly after a long day of traveling or being stranded waiting for a tow truck, you’re already at wit’s end. Then you get bombarded with the questions about insurance. The rental car agency person looks at you expectantly as you blink at them and wait for your brain to play catch up.
There are a lot of different options the smiling person behind the counter offers you, and they all sound like coverages that you need for a reasonable cost. But before you answer yes, it’s important that you take a minute to consider your own auto insurance. The coverage that you have on your auto insurance can greatly impact the answer you give them, as can your home insurance and even health insurance.
What does your auto insurance look like?
First of all, you need to know how much liability and collision coverage you have on your own car in your auto insurance policy. Then you need to make sure that that coverage will follow you when you get behind the wheel of that rental. If you’re satisfied with the limits you have on your auto policy and the coverage will protect you even if you’re driving a rental, you might already be covered. Usually, the coverage will roll over to that rental car as long as you’re not going to be using it for business purposes, but it never hurts to check.
Okay. Now that that’s been said, let’s look at the coverages that the rental car person may bombard you with.
1. Collision damage waiver: This releases you from any responsibility if your rental car is damaged or stolen. If you have comprehensive and collision coverage on your personal car already, you may not need this. However, if you don’t have comprehensive and collision coverage on your car, you are not covered for damage or theft of the rental vehicle.
Pro tip – Check and see if your credit card company offers any type of coverage for loss of use (the amount a rental agency can stand to lose while the car is being repaired.) They may have some coverage built in for your rental so long as you use your card to pay for it and the card and rental are in your name. If your company doesn’t have this coverage and you don’t have coverage through your own auto insurance, you might want to purchase it from the rental agency.
2. Liability insurance: The rental agency is required by law to provide the minimum liability coverage for your state. Keep in mind that the minimum is usually not enough to cover all of the costs of a serious accident. The rental agency may offer liability of up to $1 million. If you already have enough liability insurance for your car and it’ll carry over, you might pass on this one. If you want to boost the liability for your policy, however, go for it!
3. Stuff stolen from the rental car insurance: You need to check out your homeowners or renters insurance for this one. It very well might already cover your belongings even if they’re away from home – like if they’re riding around in your car and get stolen. Knowing this ahead of time will make things a lot easier when you’re trying to figure out what to do after your car gets broken into. You never know what could happen even if you take steps to prevent a car break-in, so it’s good to know that your belongings are covered somewhere.
If you’re going to rent a car frequently and don’t have a car insurance policy of your own because you don’t own a car…
You might want to think about getting a non-owned auto policy. This will cover damage that you cause to someone else’s car, and it also gives you liability protection for the injuries that you cause to the driver and passengers. However, keep in mind that this will not include collision coverage, which pays for the damage to the car that you’re driving.
Renting a car is headache enough. Be prepared and know what insurance you already have so that you know which ones you might need to purchase from the agency and which ones you don’t. You can always get in touch with your agent and ask them any questions you might have. It’s definitely better to know that you’re covered than to guess and find out the hard way that you’re not. Make sure you have the insurance you need – don’t chance being underinsured or not insured at all.
If you want to get a quote for your auto insurance, we can help you with that! We love helping people save on their auto insurance premiums, so we’ll help you shop around for the best possible rates. All you have to do to get started is fill out our quote form or give us a call today.