by Angela Cavallari Walker
It’s that moment that most people dread at the car rental counter. O.k., I do. “Would you like to add car rental insurance?” The question hangs in the air and is generally followed by a diatribe of horror stories of what will not be covered and the 17 lines where you need to clearly initial your rights and life away.
Of course, that it not what REALLY happens, but close. I recently had to rent a vehicle after my car was involved in an accident and my wheels would need to spend some time at the local body shop. The line of questioning was especially daunting considering how vulnerable I felt following an accident—albeit a “fender bender” with zero injuries.
To finally settle this debate and get my answer, I reached out to Walter Page of SIG Insurance based in Winter Haven, Florida.
In short, the answer is yes and no.
“Generally, a personal auto policy will cover a rental car for liability based on the limits on the policy. If the personal auto has physical damage coverage, that will also generally cover a rental car, less the deductible,” says Page.
Often, there are other charges, fees, loss of use or loss of rents the rental car company may charge that aren’t covered by the personal auto policy. Many credit card companies also cover rental cars if the car is rented in the cardholder name and used to pay. The one obvious upside to paying for the rental car insurance is that if there is any issue, you simply hand over the keys and walk away rather than getting your personal insurance involved. That does cost extra though so it doesn’t make sense for some.
“Best advice is to contact your credit card company to see if and how they cover rental cars. Also check with your specific auto insurance company, or if you have an independent insurance agent, give them a call,” adds Page.