Everything you need to know about rental car insurance

Are you covered by insurance? Too many have no idea, and it's in that cone of uncertainty that the rental car companies are able to pounce and profit. Peace of mind doesn't come cheap. Think hundreds of dollars added to your weekly rental costs. We're here to help.

Do you own a car? Yes? Then you probably have an insurance policy. Before you leave home, examine your policy documents or call your insurance provider and ask. Questions like: Am I covered for damage, theft and loss of use? Liability for injury to others (personal and property) while in the rental car? Personal effects if stolen or damaged? What deductibles will I face if I find myself in any trouble related to the above? You should know the answers to all of these questions.

Coverage through your credit card? Probably not. Too many people think that their auto insurance policy plus their credit card coverage benefits equals all set. Maybe you are, maybe you're not. Have you read the documents? Too many renters learn the hard way that what most cards provide is "secondary" coverage, meant only to bulk up your auto insurance policy, paying out after that has been exhausted. Examine each card document carefully. Note that credit cards tend to mostly offer collision, damage and theft coverage, if they offer anything at all. Personal liability (hitting a pedestrian, crashing into a store front, or injuring drivers in another car) and personal effects are generally your problem.

So you've got nothing. If you're not protected, don't just wing it. That can lead to all kinds of trouble, such as you being stuck with a bill for thousands of dollars. Besides upgrading your credit card to something more useful and bulking up on your auto insurance, you can also sign up for primary coverage with a third party to cover damage to the car (but not personal liability coverage).

But what about liability? As long as any accidents involve just you and, say, a lamppost, you're now protected. Bump into a billionaire in a supermarket parking lot, however, and you may not be adequately protected liability-wise. Many drivers lack the proper liability protection, often assuming that they're safe, hiding behind their homeowners or renters policies. If you're a high net-worth individual, you probably have an umbrella liability policy, which should be enough, but check with your agent. For those without coverage, the agent will be happy to sell you Supplemental Liability Protection, reasonably priced at about $10 per day. Then again, liability protection isn't something you should be sorting out on the fly; this is a matter for your insurance broker.

Everything you need to know about rental car insurance 08/21/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 10:20am]

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