Insuring a rental car is a process that confuses nearly everyone. Most people don’t consider this type of insurance until the issue is brought up by a sales representative at the checkout counter. While rental insurance may sound like a good idea, it’s important to know what is covered and what kind of coverage may already exist before purchasing it. It’s best to call an agent and a credit card company before purchasing rental car coverage.
When calling the insurance company, ask how much coverage exists for a current vehicle. If the rental car is used for recreation, the same deductibles and coverage held on a personal vehicle usually apply to a rental car. If the car is used for business purposes, the same coverage doesn’t exist. Vehicle owners who drop their collision or comprehensive coverage to save money are not covered if the rental vehicle is damaged in an accident or stolen. It’s important to ask if an insurance company covers administrative fees, towing charges and loss of use for a vehicle. There are several insurance companies that offer riders for such coverage, which makes it less expensive to purchase coverage from the rental car company. However, it’s important to remember that diminished value isn’t covered by insurers in many states.
Credit card companies and the banks they use differ in the terms of coverage they offer for rental cars. For example, a gold card may offer less coverage than a platinum card would. Usually loss and damage are the only coverage provisions offered by credit card companies for rental cars. Damages to other vehicles, property of others and personal belongings are usually not covered. Although some companies provide coverage for towing, they usually don’t provide coverage for administrative fees or diminished values. It’s also important to keep in mind that many credit card companies have changed their policies in recent years, so cardholders may not have the amount of coverage they originally had. To learn about the type of coverage available from a credit card company, call the toll-free number on the back of the card. Be sure to ask for written information to be sent by mail or email. As a general rule, credit card company coverage should be used as secondary coverage to temporary insurance from the rental company or from personal auto insurance. If there are multiple credit cards available, call each company to find out which one offers the best provisions.
There are usually several different types of coverage offered at the rental car counter. Loss damage waivers, which are commonly called LDWs, are not technically insurance products. However, they do clear renters of the financial responsibility of theft or damage to the rental car. LDWs may also provide coverage for loss of use, administrative fees and towing. There are several incidents that may void LDWs. It’s important to understand the contract terms thoroughly before purchasing this coverage. Be sure to check with an agent before buying this type of insurance in order to avoid duplicate provisions. Liability coverage offered by rental companies must be in accordance with individual laws for the state in which the company is located. As a general rule, these amounts are minimal and provide limited coverage. Umbrella policies are much smarter investments. Speak with an agent to learn more about umbrella policies. Personal accident and personal effects coverage options also exist. They provide limited coverage for auto accidents and loss or damage of personal belongings.