What's the least amount of coverage I need to drive a rental car legally?
October 10, 2008 1:08 PM   Subscribe

What's the least amount of insurance coverage I need to drive a rental car legally? Presently, I have no auto insurance and would like to rent a car without getting suckered into paying for coverage that I don't need simple because the sales agent recommends it. Cheap and legal are the keywords here.

I have no insurance. Furthermore, I'm under 25(but over 21). I don't have a car and I don't have auto insurance. I live in the U.S., particularly in the western Pennsylvania area, but I will be driving to Ohio during this rental car trip.

With a quick call to Hertz, and some other car rental companies, I have determined that I can drive a rental without personal auto insurance as long as I purchase *their*coverage.

But exactly how much insurance do I need? I'm pretty sure that rental companies will sell me every type of coverage they can, but all that can't be necessary to keep me legal, can it?

On the renter's website I see options for Damage Waiver, Personal Accident Insurance / Personal Effects Coverage, Supplemental Liability Protection. After some research on 3rd party sites, it seems like Liability Protection is all I need. Is that right?

As a side note, I heard over the grapevine that credit cards also offer some coverage. Should I also consider this?
posted by nikkorizz to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I heard over the grapevine that credit cards also offer some coverage

It's worth looking into, but it may not offer what you need. The coverage will depend on the card—just as an example, American Express covers theft of and damage to the rental car itself, but does not cover liability, so if you were using AmEx that wouldn't give you the coverage you need.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:18 PM on October 10, 2008


A better question than how much you need, is how much liability are you comfortable with? Then, ask Hertz and your credit card company what they offer, and what the cost is for additional coverage that meets your liability comfort level.

This might be helpful.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 1:24 PM on October 10, 2008


It may depend on the state. Here in CA, the insurance requirements for regular cars are different than those in my home state on the east coast.

You might try calling the rental car company's home office and asking. If it's a reputable company, they might be more reliable than the agent at the local office.
posted by zippy at 1:29 PM on October 10, 2008



A better question than how much you need, is how much liability are you comfortable with? Then, ask Hertz and your credit card company what they offer, and what the cost is for additional coverage that meets your liability comfort level.


That's what I'm afraid of doing. I fear that if I ask the rental company personally, they will exaggerate(but not necessarily lie) what I need just to get the extra sale. Not to sound condescending, but I've seen these guys work before. And what's worse, is that I'm a sucker for these things, so I was hoping knowing the minimal coverage beforehand could prevent this.
Of course, you do make a good point, but I would like to know the minimum coverage before I start adding things.
posted by nikkorizz at 2:32 PM on October 10, 2008


I know that with Avis the cheapest LDW (around $9/day) only covers the first $3000 in damages. You are responsible for anything over that.

I know I'm a safe driver, and I was comfortable with just getting that.

The last time we rented though, I knew I'd be driving through a tropical storm, so we got the full coverage.
posted by Zarya at 2:55 PM on October 10, 2008


I know that with Avis the cheapest LDW (around $9/day) only covers the first $3000 in damages. You are responsible for anything over that.

Do you have personal auto insurance?
posted by nikkorizz at 4:06 PM on October 10, 2008


Do you have personal auto insurance?

No, I do not, since I don't own a car.
posted by Zarya at 4:29 PM on October 10, 2008


I'm renting a car for the first time after no longer having owning a car, and from what I understand, that sounds right. Liability should be all you need to legally drive the car. In NY, and from what the rental agent told me, NY only, the minimum liability is included with the car rental. Lucky for me, I'm renting in NY.

I checked my credit cards and it looks like they only offer the collision insurance.

As for minimums and other info, this is kind of helpful (info by state): http://www.edmunds.com/advice/insurance/articles/43773/article.html.

And as for whether or not you should purchase more than the minimum, the paragraph below the chart on that page says:

"If someone else is injured and you're at fault, the minimum liability coverage may not cover their medical expenses, in which case their attorney will most likely come after your assets. It is generally recommended (by insurance companies - who else?) that you purchase 100/300 limits of bodily injury liability. On the other hand, if your personal assets don't amount to much (you don't own a home, struggle from paycheck to paycheck, violins are wailing), you don't have a whole lot for them to bother about, so the minimum requirements might actually suit you, not to mention save you some much-needed cash."

Granted it's geared towards people buying full auto policies, not just rental car info, but the general info is pretty much the same.

Also, I'm renting from Enterprise and, like you, was also worried about them trying to sell me extra crap if I went in and asked. I called their 800 number and didn't feel like the guy was trying to sell me anything at all and was even suggesting I check my credit cards (which I already had) to see what kind of coverage they offered before buying more. Also, if you ask for it in terms of what are the minimum legal requirements, it might be more difficult for them to lie to your face about it and they might just start making suggestions.
posted by unsigned at 4:17 AM on October 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think the smart thing to do it to take out the minimum amount of coverage from the rental company, and then take out excess cover from a second company (e.g. http://www.dailyexcess.com/ - I think this is UK only, but I've used it when hiring a car in the US).
posted by primer_dimer at 5:33 AM on October 11, 2008


American Express does offer liability coverage, but you have to sign up for the program and pay something like $20 per rental (not per day) and they are then primary liability and collision insurance.
posted by wierdo at 1:00 PM on October 12, 2008


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