Probably not. But maybe.
If you’re like us, vacation is a much-anticipated escape from the day-to-day worries of life. Your bags are packed, your reservations are made, and happy dreams of sunny beaches lull you to sleep. Congratulations, you’ve earned it!
You were prepared for the plane tickets, you were ready to pay for the hotel on the beach, but you weren’t ready to nearly double your rental car fees on that “optional rental car insurance” they so casually slipped into your contract, were you? And if you worked up the energy to question the coverage, you were probably made to feel as though the consequences of not accepting it would be ruinously dire.
Don’t feel too bad, you’re not the only one who has experienced a hopeless sense of confusion at the rental counter. Still, the question remains, do you really need additional insurance coverage on a rental car? While a majority of renters don’t need to accept the offer optional car insurance, there are those for whom it might be a good idea.
A majority of consumers are covered under their existing auto insurance. CNN Money writes, “And those who aren’t covered by their own insurance, are likely covered by their credit card…All four major credit card issuers, Visa, American Express, MasterCard, and Discover, provide some form of rental car insurance coverage. Although, MasterCard issues a few cards that don’t offer coverage.”
We’ll help you determine which category you’re in so that next time you hear the dreaded, “Would you like optional rental car insurance?” you’ll have the information you need and the confidence to respond appropriately.
3 Steps to Determine Whether or Not You Need Additional Insurance on Your Rental Car
An independent advocate for consumer empowerment and awareness, Consumer Reports, encourages renters to do some research before stepping up to the rental counter and driving away in an over-insured (or underinsured) rental car.
Step 1: Review Your Personal Auto Insurance Policy
In many cases, your car insurance policy will cover you in a standard car rental. According to the Allstate blog “Rental companies often offer their own protection, like a waiver for physical damage or liability. They might offer you a chance to pay a small amount per day to cover all damage, for example. In that case, it’s completely up to you to decide if paying an extra $50 or so is worth it to avoid the deductible on your own auto policy—but you’re already covered.”
However, it’s worthing noting that if you’re traveling for business, splurging on a luxury or sports car, or renting a larger vehicle such as a truck or large passenger van, then your personal policy may not cover you adequately. Certainly, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Contact your insurance agent prior to renting to ensure you’re good to go.
Step 2: Dig Deep into Your Credit Card Benefits
Most credit cards offer car-rental protection benefits, although coverage varies by company. Typically, credit card coverage is secondary to your personal auto insurance policy and will fill any gaps that may remain between your existing coverage and your claim liability. So if you don’t have personal car insurance or if your policy doesn’t adequately cover you, it makes good sense to accept the optional additional rental coverage. Be sure to use your credit card with the best car rental protection when you pay for your rental.
To learn more about your car-rental protection benefits, be sure to contact your credit card company. Here are the number you’ll need:
- American Express: 800-338-1670
- Discover: 800-347-2683
- MasterCard: 800-622-7747
- Visa: 800-847-2911
Step 3: Read the Fine Print
We know, we know. It’s vacation. And you really don’t want to be that person holding up the line. But here’s the deal: your loss liability may vary from state to state and an informed consumer knows what they’re getting into. Naturally, you’ll want to make sure that only authorized drivers are behind the wheel of your rental. And finally, if you’re lucky enough to be vacationing overseas or, say, in Canada, be sure to accept the additional coverage. Your personal auto insurance only covers you within the United States.