The Basics of Rental Car Insurance

The summer season is the time that many of us opt to take a little vacation or travel to see our relatives. If, for whatever reason, you find yourself needing a rental car, it’s important to educate yourself on your rental insurance policy. The last thing you want while you’re on vacation is having to deal with the nightmare of being involved in a car accident. But what’s ever worse is finding out that the coverage you though you had, doesn’t apply.

It’s always best to prepare for the worst, and definitely don’t give the insurance companies the benefit of the doubt when it comes to your coverage. Often times, people will end up paying for additional rental car insurance and find themselves double covered. But more often than not, people make the assumption that they will be covered by their existing auto policy, only to find out otherwise. With rental cars, there are other fees that they will tack on in the event of an accident, such as the “loss of use” fee associated with their loss of income while the car is being repaired. Most standard policies will not cover such fees.

It’s always best to get an actual insurance agent on the phone so you can verify the answers to your questions with a real person as opposed to an automated machine. If you’re able to get an agent on the phone, be sure to write down the answers to the questions to prepare yourself when you hit the rental car checkout. The requirements for insurance coverage will vary by state which is why it’s nice to clarify your policy with someone. If you’re already at your vacation location and don’t have access to a phone, you may want to look to the internet for some answers.

Assuming you have a copy of your auto policy in front of you, there is certain terminology to watch out for. If you see anything about “non owned autos”, that is in reference to vehicles that you use but maybe don’t own yourself. These should still be covered as your “primary” vehicle so make sure that’s the case. Also be on the lookout for any loopholes within the policy. More often than not, the loss of use fees will not be covered.

If you use a credit card, you may receive some coverage through that. But in order to receive those benefits, there are usually certain requirements that you will have to meet. It’s common for the company to mandate that you are renting the car under your name as the primary driver, that you declined the collision waiver, and that the credit card paid for the rental in full.

You can bet that certain exclusions will be present in your auto insurance policy so it’s important to be on the lookout for those. After all, certain car models may not be covered under your credit card policy, and often times they will only cover a certain amount of days for your rental. As a company, they will be looking to cover as minimal amount as possible so it’s up to you to make sure you know where the gaps in your policy lie. The best way to do this is to get a customer service agent on the phone.

Often times, if you meet the requirements of your credit card company then you will at least get some coverage for your rental car. The same goes for your standard auto policy. But if there are any holes in your coverage then you will need to purchase the supplemental insurance in order to protect yourself in the event of a car accident. Review the fine print and educate yourself about your insurance before its time to rent a car.