Rental Car Insurance

Do you need rental car insurance? 

You’ve probably been at the rental-car counter, listening to the representative ask if you want to purchase the company’s insurance.  And the thoughts start racing through your head. “Is this a rip-off? Doesn’t my regular auto policy cover me?  What about my credit card?

At Theiss Agency, we are here to help.  And while not every situation is the same, we’ve got some general tips that will help you make an informed decision the next time you’re standing at that counter.

Know your personal auto policy.

Because insurance policies vary, it’s a good idea to give us a call to make sure you have the coverage you need.  In many instances, your personal auto policy will provide coverage for a rental car — but that coverage may be limited to the value of the car you own, rather than the one you’re renting.  And keep in mind that in the event of an accident, many rental companies will charge fees beyond repair costs. They may assess a loss-of-use fee for each day the car is unusable, as well as charge you because the value of the car has decreased.  These additional fees will not be covered by your policy.

Check your credit card protection.

Most credit cards will also provide some coverage, but often payment is limited to reimbursement of your personal auto policy deductible (after that policy pays for repairs). Generally, loss-of-use and other fees are not covered, but it’s important to check with your credit-card provider to determine their policies.  Remember, to receive any sort of benefit from your card, you must use that card to pay for your entire car rental.

Consider any unique circumstances.

Are you renting a car in a foreign country, or for more than a week?  You’ll definitely want to get confirmation of coverage from both your insurance carrier and credit card company because different rules might apply.  Also, no matter where you are, vehicles such as trucks, RVs or exotic sports cars often aren’t covered under standard agreements.

Learn about the insurance offered by the rental car company.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, rental companies offer four main types of coverage.  A Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) relieves you of responsibility if your rental car is damaged or stolen.  This may also provide coverage for loss of use.  Liability Protection provides protection from lawsuits if you are sued after an accident.  Personal Accident Insurance covers you and passengers for medical bills after an accident.  You may not need this if you have adequate health and auto coverage.  Personal Effects Coverage protects you if items are stolen from your car.  You generally are covered for this under your homeowners or renters policy, but keep in mind that the loss must exceed your deductible for you to receive payment.  If you have a high deductible, it may make sense to purchase this coverage from the rental company.

When you go on vacation, you don’t want to stress out about insurance.  So give us a call before you leave.  Then, when you head over to the rental-car counter, you can stop worrying about your coverage — and start enjoying your trip!

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