Above Image of Courtesy of Hakan Dahlstrom
Does the choice of whether or not to get rental car insurance cause profuse sweating and confusion while you stand at the counter, facing off with the rental agent? If it does, you’re not alone. It plays out the same all the time: you get up to the counter with confirmation in hand, everything’s going great and then suddenly –BAM- you’re hit with that inevitable question, “do you have insurance?”
More often than not, when renting a car, you’ll find yourself succumbing to the deadpan stare of the agent asking if you need rental car insurance, along with the fear of, “what if something happens?”
But let’s be clear: the choice of rental car insurance is completely optional.
Regardless of the pressures, or the horror stories the agent may furnish upon you, there is no obligation to purchase rental car insurance.
I’m not saying that insurance itself is unnecessary; you just don’t have to take their insurance. In most cases you probably already have coverage, so the agency’s supplemental coverage would only be redundant and a complete waste of money.
First You Need to Know How to Say NO!
Just say NO! Well, say “no thank you”, but you get my drift.
They may not let you off the hook so easily and might follow up by asking with whom you have coverage with. In this case, give them the name of your personal auto insurance company, like Progressive or State Farm. The more aggressive agents, or companies, may even sometimes require proof (seriously, who carries around their policies?) or acceptance of their coverage while reserving the right to increase their rates if you happen to refuse. Typically, these will be the smaller, less scrupulous rental car agencies. My advice, politely decline and rent elsewhere.
Unfair draconian polices, such as the above, is a window to more problems upon returning the rental car. Avoid these companies like the plaque. Better yet, stay with the big names like Budget, Avis, and Hertz. They have locations worldwide along with consistent policies and rules you can depend on. Not to mention, you also have recourse in the event something happens.
You Probably Already Have Rental Car Insurance!
If you already have reliable personal auto insurance, there’s a good chance it already extends to your rental as long as it’s for personal use. For business and overseas travel, personal policies may not work. In which case, you’ll have to entertain other options like your credit cards.
Nowadays, most credit cards offer rental car insurance as long as you make the full purchase on your card. In order to be eligible you need to decline the supplemental coverage offered by the rental agency. Be careful though, not all coverages are the same, with the rare breed not offering any coverage at all. Make sure to check the card policies before renting and certainly before declining.
Lastly, if all the above doesn’t work for you, consider travel insurance. Along with optional rental car insurance, you’ll also get all the fixin’s like emergency medical, evacuation, and personal property coverage. For literally the same price of rental car insurance (or possibly even cheaper), companies like World Nomads can cover your car AND your vacation.
Ultimately, however you decide to procure rental car insurance, make sure to have some type of coverage and be sure to check the restrictions and the fine print. For most of us, rental car insurance from the rental agency is unnecessary and a complete waste of money, adding anywhere from $9 to $30 a day to your cost.
If you’re going to get travel insurance anyways (highly advisable!), add it to the policy, or get an awesome credit card Like AMEX or Chase Sapphire/ Freedom cards for travel Insurance AND rental coverage!
Do some research and get the most for your money!
Have fun hacking!
Read here for information on how to buy Travel Insurance: Should I Buy Travel Insurance? Yes and Here’s Why
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