When you rent a car, there's always that moment of truth, the moment when the salesperson asks you if you would like to purchase insurance (or more accurately, a loss waiver) through the rental company. According to most of these salespeople, if you do not purchase the insurance (which can bump the price of your rental up $20 per day or more) the consequences for the slightest scuff on the door will send you spiraling into bankruptcy. The cost of insurance at the rental car counter may also vary depending on the rental car company, state and the type of car you wish to rent. Car rental insurance can be complicated and you might even feel pressured into purchasing it, but before you commit yourself to spending the money on a loss waiver, take a moment to think about some other options.
If you carry comprehensive and collision coverage, your personal auto policy will generally cover the cost of replacing or repairing a stolen or damaged rental car. Because each insurance company is a little different, however, it is a good idea to speak with your insurance agent and confirm that the rental car is covered by your existing policy.
Remember that any deductibles you have will apply to the rental car. For instance, if you have a $500 deductible and sustain $450 worth of damage, you will be responsible for the full cost. If you have a $500 deductible and sustain $1000 worth of damage, you will be responsible for the first $500 and the insurance company will pay for the balance.
Remember, too, that for your rental car to be covered you must carry comprehensive and collision insurance. If your insurance protects you only against liability, it will not cover the cost to repair or replace a rental car if it is wrecked or stolen. You may also want to take note that in the event of a car accident with the rental car, your personal insurance premium may go up in cost.
Some credit card companies offer rental insurance benefits. To find out what each of your credit cards offer, simply call the customer service and ask. You may want to shop around a little to find out which of your cards offers the best insurance benefits. When you find the best deal, ask for a copy of the insurance policy in writing. This will allow you to look the policy over carefully to determine that it offers the coverage you need. Having the policy in writing will also put a stop to the he-said-she-said that may occur if a loss does happen.
It's easy and often tempting to sign on the dotted line and let car rental insurance take care of everything. But if you do so without stopping to investigate other avenues available, you may find yourself paying for car insurance coverage you may already have. Fifteen or twenty minutes of easy research can save you a hefty sum of money and offer you piece of mind.