Whether your car is in the shop or you are going on a trip, many of us need to rent a vehicle from time to time.
When renting, you will be given the option to purchase “supplemental insurance” in case you are involved in an accident. The cost of this insurance is often as much as the charge to rent the vehicle itself. What many people do not know is that you may already be covered, making this insurance unnecessary.
Your Personal Auto Policy
The insurance policy for the vehicle you own includes both liability and property damage coverage. Whenever you rent a car, this personal auto policy provides the same coverage for the rental vehicle. If you have liability, collision or comprehensive coverage on one of your cars, you also have those coverages on a car that you rent.
Your insurance company may also provide a daily allowance toward your rental cost when your vehicle is otherwise covered for damage or repairs so be sure to ask your carrier!
However, your personal auto policy may only protect you while the rental car is used in the US and Canada. Your coverage may also exclude a rented truck or van (even minivan) used for business purposes.
In New York, the renter of the vehicle, the renter’s spouse (if they over 18), operators in emergency situations and any drivers listed in the rental agreement are authorized to drive the vehicle. However, allowing unauthorized drivers to operate the vehicle could lead to coverage problems and is probably not a good idea.
Coverage through your personal auto policy will usually apply when you get a “loaner” car from your dealer as well.
Coverage through your credit card company
Many credit card companies also offer insurance if you rent a vehicle using their card. This is usually considered “secondary” insurance because it doesn’t apply until after your personal auto policy and the rental company’s coverage pays. Credit card coverage may help you pay for deductibles, coverage gaps, or damages exceeding your primary insurance payout.
There’s really no “standard” credit card coverage, so call your company to find out what protection they provide.
Sometimes Supplemental Insurance Makes Sense
For some people, the supplemental insurance from the rental company may be a good idea. For instance, it may protect you from a raised auto insurance premium if you damage the rental car. Supplemental coverage might also be a smart idea if you carry a high deductible on your auto insurance policy or if you do not own your own vehicle. Also, supplemental coverage usually provides excess liability coverage of up to $1 million for the time you rent a car which is higher than most personal policies.
Know before you go
For help sorting out your coverage options:
Step 1: Contact your car insurance company to make sure you understand your policy and what is covered when you rent a car.
Step 2: Contact your credit card company to find out what coverage it provides.
Step 3: Finally, bring your car insurance declaration page so you can present it to the rental company if any questions come up when you pick up your car.
As always, no matter what you are driving, stay safe and remember….help is a phone call away!