When it comes to rental car insurance most of us don’t know if we should get it or just forget it. Whether the car you rent is to be used as a loaner while your car’s in the body shop, or you’re flying out in the morning for a meeting and need a rental, or you’re just renting a sharp set of wheels to impress your future in-laws…you’re going to be asked the same question? One that baffles most of us every time someone behind the rental car counter asks, “Do you want the additional insurance coverage with that?” The response is more than likely to be a blank look as we pretend to think it over. Truth is, we don’t know. We were supposed to check with our car insurance company the last time they asked us, but we didn’t.
We try to do the math in our head. It’s already costing us more than we thought for the few days we intend to keep their car and, now we’ve got to tack on an additional charge for their coverage, making the total even more expensive. What do we do? We just don’t know. The majority of us own a car and we have a pretty good idea what our deductible is and maybe how much coverage we have. But, the issue is…do we need more coverage for the rental car?
A number of credit cards have that covered for us. If you’re aware that a particular card in your wallet will take care of the rental car company’s extremely high deductible or pay the remaining difference left after your own insurance company pays out, use that card only for your rental needs. It’s always best to double check with the card company while you’re there to know exactly what they‘ll insure, because many credit cards often tend to cover only collision, damage, and theft. You may be on your own when it comes to personal liability should you hit a pedestrian or injure another driver. Also, keep in mind, they can change many of their benefits without warning. It’ll only take a second over the phone and you can quickly get the answer to stop you from making a costly mistake, one way or the other. The more you know, the better off you’ll be.
If you’re fortunate enough to be an American Express cardholder you may want to check into their Premium Rental Car Protection policy. In many locations, for less than the cost of one day’s rental damage waiver, you can pay for an entire rental period of up to 42 days — and, the cost is even less if you live in California. In addition, you get $100,000 in coverage for damage and theft, plus $100,000 of Accidental Death or Dismemberment coverage, $15,000 for excess medical expenses and up to $5,000 for personal property loss. Again, check with AMEX to be sure the numbers have not changed. The best feature of this plan is…there is no deductible. Zip. Nothing. With this card and the Protection policy, you can look like the smartest guy on the block and respond with a “no, I‘m good” the next time they ask you that question.
Although they won’t tell you, rental car companies are required to build basic (and very limited) liability protection into their rates – which is why they always hit us up for more by getting us to purchase their additional coverage. The simple fact is, if you don’t have a credit card that you definitely know offers rental car insurance, or you have absolutely no clue whether your car insurance company will cover all damages and possible injury claims, err on the side of caution and purchase the rental company’s additional coverage. The peace of mind will be well worth it.
How do you feel about rental car insurance? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.