People rent cars for various reasons and some even rent cars quite frequently. Whether it’s for going on a vacation or business trip, facing the question of whether or not to purchase rental car insurance for your travel always pops up. As you’re signing the contract for your vehicle, you only have a split second to make a decision. Here is a simple guide you can use the next time you’re faced with this decision.
Does Your Auto Insurance Cover Rental Cars?
A lot of insurance companies offer coverage for rental car protection on personal auto policies. If you purchased comprehensive and collision coverage for your vehicle it generally transfers to the rental car. So if there are any dents, scratches, theft, accidents, etc. while you’re driving the rental car, it will be covered by your auto insurance policy. Just to make sure, call your insurance company to double check. But before doing so, read on.
Will Your Credit Card Company Cover Damages for the Rental Car?
There are various credit card companies that offer coverage for damage done to rental cars when the card is used to rent the vehicle. This is secondary to your auto insurance if it doesn’t have comprehensive and collision coverage. Towing charges may also be covered by your credit card company, so it’s a good idea to ask. Never know if you may need a tow. If you are the cause of injury or damage to another driver and their car, the credit card company will not offer coverage. This is strictly for liability or personal injury coverage from an insurance company — this is why it is very necessary for your to have your own auto insurance.
Is Your Travel for Pleasure or Business?
Some companies offer coverage for employees that rent cars for business purposes. Check with your boss or fleet department to see if you’re covered before buying extra coverage from the rental car company. So if you’ll be traveling far to get to a meeting or visiting with a client in another state and end up having to rent a vehicle, you should see if the company you work for offers benefits for rental car services. You’ll be surprised that they do. If not, being that your rental car is basically a temp vehicle to replace your current car, your insurance policy may cover it.
Be Careful if You’re Driving Out-of-State or the Country
Each state has its own policies when it comes to auto insurance. It is important that you read through your insurance policy to see exactly what it covers. If things aren’t too clear, give your insurer a call. You should also check with your insurance company to see if they cover out-of-state travel. For instance, in Massachusetts, auto insurance only applies to travel within the state. Then other states offer coverage in any state within the United States. Some offer limited coverage in Mexico and Canada. If you’re planning to travel out of the country, it may be best to purchase insurance through the rental car company.
Don’t Allow Anyone to Drive the Rental Vehicle
It doesn’t matter if it is a spouse, sibling, best friend or descendent, if you’re renting a car, no one else can drive the car, but you. Many rental car companies are picky about who drives their vehicles and the insurance policies they offer only cover you, the driver. Now, if you’re going on a vacation on a long out-of-town trip, likely you’ll want to alternate between two or more drivers. Ultimately, you will have to put them down in the rental contract, so that they will be covered if anything happens. Of course, this will cost more money. Even your own insurance policy may not cover other drivers for the rental vehicle, so make sure to check beforehand. Better to be safe than sorry.
Now that you have a general idea of what to expect when renting a car, you should be safe. Your best bet would be to check with your insurance company, credit card company and employer (if going on a business trip) before purchasing any auto insurance from a rental car company. It could save you money in the end. What’s most important is that you get enough coverage as to where you won’t have to pay any expenses out of your own pocket. Check if other drivers will covered, if you would like to alternate drivers.