When Should You Purchase Rental Car Insurance Through The Rental Company?

Situations where temporary car insurance makes sense

It's very common when purchasing a rental car to think about car rental insurance when you've just got off your flight, you're standing at the counter looking over rental car insurance options and you're tired, hungry, and have no idea what coverage you already have.

You will see temporary car insurance for rental cars options such as loss damage waiver, partial damage waiver, liability supplement, motorist protection, and personal effects coverage - and you will say, "Oh, man, just put it on there." Suddenly your rental car bill will be hundreds of dollars over the base rental price. We've all done this.

If you are in this situation, and you haven't reviewed your existing insurance coverage and can part with hundreds of dollars, then it would make sense to select short term car insurance options to ensure that you can walk away from an accident without huge financial losses.

If however you are willing to put in a few minutes time and do some research, you will feel confident in stepping up to the desk and checking "Declined" after each expensive temporary car insurance option on the list, and know you are no worse off than if you had paid a lot more.

Don't Buy Temporary Car Rental Insurance If You Have An Existing Insurance Policy

Already own a car? You're probably already insured.

The first step is to find out what is your existing coverage and write it down, or get a print out. You want to have this with you at the rental car desk, so you have information to counter their sales pitch. Know how much you're covered for, what you are covered for, and what's your deductible. Decide beforehand if you are willing to pay the deductible in the event of an accident, keeping in mind that it's not likely to happen.

You might, for example, be offered a Loss Damage Waiver. They will say anything happens to this car, you're not responsible. Sounds great. But it's expensive. What they are trying to sell you is peace of mind and convenience. It's unlikely however that you will feel at ease and at peace if you are involved in a car accident abroad, no matter what policy you have. To put your mind at ease, call your insurance company beforehand and ask what you would have to do if you got into an accident abroad. Get the specifics, so you'll know ahead of time. Will you have to pay in cash? Will you need to call a tow truck? Will you get a replacement car? Etc. etc. Get all the facts.

Don't Buy Temporary Car Rental Insurance If You Have A Credit Card That Offers Rental Insurance

Have a credit card? Check if it includes car insurance.

Many credit cards offer auto rental collision damage waiver on top of your existing coverage. This means that they will reimburse you only for the damage not payable by any other means such as existing car insurance.

Again, you will need to verify the details. There's no way to take a cheap shortcut around this - you have to get on the internet or call and find out what your coverage is. It will probably not have as much coverage as you would have on your typical car insurance policy. You will also need to purchase the rental car using this credit card. There will be other stipulations; but then, all insurance has stipulations, and you should know what they are.

Print out your credit card rental car insurance coverage details and bring them with you on your trip. Make them available in your rental car.

Know What Other Insurance You Have, e.g., Medical and Homeowners

Do you know what other insurance you have? Look it up.

It's important to know your total insurance picture when making a decision on car rental insurance. For example, what happens if you are injured in a car accident, or injure someone else? You may have coverage for this under your health insurance plan. Know what this is and what it covers.

Also check to see if your homeowner's insurance has any provisions for rental car insurance. Find out the details of what that covers as well.

In most cases, the insurance you buy at the desk of your car rental agency will be duplicate coverage. You might be able to remove your deductible or increase convenience, but there is no substitute for simply understanding what coverage you already have. Then you can make an informed decision at the rental counter to fill in any gaps.