Rental car agencies have a menu of insurance policies they would like to sell you. While each policy could be of some benefit under the right circumstances, you should review each plan (its provisions, limitations, and exclusions) before making a purchase. It is a good idea to request the detailed information from an agent at the rental office, as most companies only provide a summary on their Web sites.
Keep in mind; you may not need to buy this additional car insurance because you have auto insurance from your own car insurance company. Generally speaking, when you rent a car, the liability coverage limits you have in your own auto insurance policy remain in effect with the same limits. In addition, the comprehensive and collision coverages you have in your own auto insurance policy remain in effect with the same deductibles. You do have comprehensive and collision coverage don’t you?
You may also have some kind of additional auto insurance coverage through your credit card but it is important that you check your credit card information for specific details. Some cards only offer coverage if you rent your car from a particular agency. Some limit the days for which coverage is available. Some will only provide coverage for certain types and/or classes of cars. With some cards, the coverage is not automatic and you must enroll in a program to get coverage. Some cards that advertise automatic rental insurance really only reimburse you for the deductible that you would have to pay under your regular insurance policy. Still others may provide only collision and comprehensive coverage, leaving you exposed for personal injury or property damage to others. Rental car agencies typically offer liability coverage in two parts – a supplemental liability policy protects against claims from others and a Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) covers the rental car. LDW is not technically insurance; rather, it is a company’s agreement not to hold the consumer liable for loss from all or part of any damage to merchandise.
Before you rent a vehicle, realize the charges you could be responsible for and how these charges are covered or not covered by both your own auto insurance policy and the car insurance the rental company is offering.
If you suffer a loss that is not covered under your auto policy, check your other insurance policies. For example, if personal property has been stolen from your rental car, it may be covered under your homeowners or renters policy. Similarly, certain medical policies may cover costs of injuries not covered by your car insurance policy.
As always, check with your insurance company to find out exactly what is covered under your own auto insurance policy.