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Can anyone clarify which coverage is needed when renting a car? My husband and I were recently visiting Washington State and rented a car for a week. Because we have coverage through our own auto insurance, auto association and also our credit card, we declined the insurance coverage offered by the rental company. But, I had reserved the car online and had indicated that there would be an extra driver ($5/day). The wonderfully honest man at the rental counter asked if we were married and said we didn't need to pay the "extra driver" fee if we were. Is this the case in every state, or does it vary state by state? Any help would be appreciated because this could certainly add up over a few trips!
Check with Your Carrier
I have been in the insurance industry for 13 years. The wisest thing to do is to check with your own insurance carrier. Ask them if you need to purchase the extra insurance. Different companies have different ways of covering it.
Before Declining, Consider This
I used to work for the largest rental car company in the U.S. The extra driver fee will depend state to state. Simply ask if it applies if you are married.
Before declining the additional coverage offered by the company, consider the following information. Even though you have insurance on your vehicle and it covers you in the rental car, you will be responsible for any damages to the vehicle from an accident or even if a shopping cart were to cause a dent in the vehicle. This means that the rental car company notifies your insurance company and it shows up on your insurance and may increase your rates. If you were to purchase the collision coverage, the rental car company would fix the damages and not report them to your insurance company.
Stephanie in Oregon
What's the Worst Case Scenario?
I worked at a Rental Car agency for almost 10 years, and I can tell you that the answer to your question on how much coverage you need depends on your particular situation.
First, call both your credit card company and your own insurance agent to verify your coverage. Not all insurance company's collision policies transfer to rental cars, and some credit card coverages have limits on either the type of car you rent (sometimes luxury cars, trucks and passenger vans are excluded) or the number of days rented. Also, not all credit cards offer the coverage. Also keep in mind that the credit card coverage is reimbursed to you. You still have to pay the rental car agency first, and then file a claim with your credit card company and wait for a response, which could take up to six weeks.
Take into consideration how long you are renting and the amount of your insurance deductible. If you are renting for only a couple of days, you may be better off taking the optional collision coverage. There is less hassle if you do get in an accident, and it would be cheaper than paying the deductible on your own policy. (By the way, this is due at the time you return the car. They have the right to put the charge immediately on your credit card or ask you to pay cash.)
If your insurance coverage does not transfer to a rental car and your credit card company will not cover the expense, take the collision coverage. If your insurance coverage does transfer to a rental car and your credit card company will not cover the expense, do the math. Can you afford to lose a $250 or $500 deductible to the rental car company, or does the coverage come out cheaper in the end?
Many rental car companies also offer Personal Injury Protection Coverage, which covers you in or out of the car. This might be good if you're planning a skydiving vacation! Other coverages include Personal Property Coverage (which covers your belongings while in the car) and Liability Coverage (which protects you from a lawsuit if in an accident). These coverages are usually cheaper than collision coverage and are a personal choice. You may want to take these just for peace of mind, but in my opinion, these are unnecessary expenses.
Just remember to do some research and consider the "worst case scenario" before deciding.
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