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Do You Need Insurance to Rent a Car?

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Welcome to the IHateTaxis.com advice on Do You Need Insurance to Rent a Car? We have put together some advice on understanding what insurance you might need or if you may already be covered. Car Rental insurance offered by the car rental agency is usually expensive, but convienent and there are choices provided you have done a little homework prior to picking up your rental car. Read more about dealing with car rental insurance below.

Should I Get Rental Car Insurance?

Maybe you already have insurance through your credit card or at-home car insurance that covers you. But there are different insurances that cover different portions of car rentals. Look for these three car rental terms:
  • Collision: You damage the car by hitting something, such as another car or an object.
  • Comprehensive: The car is damaged from theft, vandalism, fire, etc or an impact with an animal.
  • Third Party Liability: You cause injury or death to someone or their property

Additionally, other insurance terms may appear or be offered, including Accident Benefits, Loss-of-use, and so on.

Does My Credit Card Cover Rental Car Insurance?

Many credit cards cover car rental insurance, but there are many restrictions on this coverage and for the coverage to be in effect, you must follow the terms of your credit card policy. The best place to find out about your credit card coverage is in your policy document that you received with your credit card. If you do not have a copy of this policy, then either visit your credit card company's website or give them a call to discuss the details.

Credit cards vary on their coverage, so it is very important that you understand what your card covers for your car rental. Typical limitations often include:
  • Insurance coverage for cars, minivans, and SUV's only. Rarely do credit cards cover trucks (including pickups), motocycles, campers, etc.
  • Coverage is limited to vehicles under a certain amount, so rarely are "luxury" vehicles covered
  • Coverage is likely limited to a certain number of days of rental of one vehicle
  • Coverage usually includes collision and comprehensive, but not third party or other insurance types
  • You must pay for the entire rental on the credit card AND decline insurance offered by the car agency
  • The rental car agency may require a deposit or hold on your credit card if you choose to use your credit card insurance

Does My Existing Car Insurance Cover Rental Cars?

Some at-home car insurance plans cover rental cars, but you always need to check and confirm with your at-home car insurance provider if you are covered. Some car insurance plans offer automatic coverage, some offer it as an extra nominal fee for the term of your car insurance, and others may offer car rental insurance as a daily add-on. Like credit cards, there are some limitations and questions to ask of your at-home car insurance provider before you pick up your car rental, including:
  • Does the coverage include collision, comprehensive, third party, and possibly other insurance types (such as loss-of-use)?
  • Does an accident with the rental car come with a deductible or excess fee?
  • Will your insurance rates increase if you have an accident with the rental car?
  • Are there any other restrictions, including the value of the rental car to your at-home car value?

If planning on using your at-home car insurance, make sure to bring a copy with you to the car rental agency as they may need a copy for their file and you will always want a copy with you in case there are problems.

Cheap Rental Car Insurance

If you are not covered by your credit card or at home insurance, there usually is one other option for cheap rental car insurance and that is to purchase some rental car insurance from either an insurance agent at home or in the city you are renting a car from. You will likely need about 20 minutes to do this before picking up your rental car and make sure you have the basic three insurance types (collision, comprehensive, and third party). Bring this paperwork with you to the agency.

Can I Rent a Car Without Insurance?

Usually yes you can rent a car without insurance, but this is a very risky and not recommended as you would be liable to any damages. If you decide not to have car insurance then likely the car rental agency will demand a deposit be placed with them prior to you leaving.

When Picking Up Your Rental Car

Refuse to inspect a dirty (unwashed) car as scratches and dents may be less noticeable. Also on your return if the car is excessively dirty, you might want to wash it down to protect yourself from "undiscovered damages" before returning. Go over the car with the paper provided and mark out any scratches, dents, or other damages. Also spend some time looking at the windshields and windows to ensure that there are no cracks or chips. Don't forget to also check inside the car for scratches or other damage. Make sure that all damages are noted on the paper and make sure that you receive a copy of the damages.

We also recommend taking a few photos of the car with a camera. Although the inspection may take a few minutes, the trouble of several hours of arguments and bills is definitely worth the time.

If You Damage a Rental Car

If you do damage a rental car then we recommend visiting a garage or car repair shop prior to the return to get an idea of what the repair costs might be in writing. If you return it without an idea of the damage cost then the car rental agency may grossly overcharge you for the repair. If you are billed for the repair charges by the rental car company, then you have a right to see proof of the car being repaired (company that repaired it and for how much)

Rental Car Insurance Tips

Written by Steve Romaine

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