rental car insurance?
May 12, 2005 5:10 AM   Subscribe

Do I need insurance on my rental car?

I live in NYC, so I don't have a car, nor do I have car insurance. In a couple of days, I'll be renting a car in Virginia.

Assuming that my credit card doesn't cover me (I'm still waiting for a straight answer from Amex), should I spring for the "additional" insurance? Which ones?

If I get pulled over, will I be legal in VA without any liability insurance or does basic liability insurance come with the car?

What exactly am I on the hook for if I don't get the LDW/CDW and get into an accident?

What about the other kinds of insurance that the company offers? Good idea, or ripoff? (They'll triple the cost of the rental.)

I see that Avis is offering Personal Accident Insurance, Personal Effects Protection, and Additional Liability Insurance in addition to the LDW. What are all these?

Anything else I should know?
posted by Vidiot to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Don't get Rental Car Insurance.
Almost all decent credit card company has automatic rental car insurance.

I will be very surprised if American Express doesn't have that feature.

I use American Express Gold Card all the time when renting. I know 100% that they cover. I also have American Express Blue, which also covers car insurance.

Just give them a quick call they should be able to tell you straight forward if your card feature Rental Car Insurance.

According to many consumer advocate guides, insurance offered by Rental Car agencies are unnecessary.

But if for some strange and odd reason that your card doesn't have Rental Car Insurance feature, get cheapest insurance option from the rental agency.
posted by curiousleo at 5:19 AM on May 12, 2005

I recently asked the same question of our insurance agent. This was her response:

If you are traveling within the US, then you do not have to purchase the insurance for comprehensive or collision as your coverage follows to a rental vehicle. Where they get you is that if the vehicle is damaged and needs to be repaired, they will charge the daily rental rate for every day that vehicle is out of service unless you purchase coverage for that - your personal auto insurance does not cover this.
posted by Yukon at 5:20 AM on May 12, 2005

In addition to what Yukon said, even if your policy covers the damage, you will be responsible for any deductable you have on your own cars.

If you can afford the out of pocket deductable and the rental fee for the car for a few weeks, you don't need the insurance... If you can't afford this out of pocket, then get the insurance. (if, of course, your credit card company won't cover all of this)...
posted by HuronBob at 5:33 AM on May 12, 2005

They always offer you a dizzying array of options and I'm always sort of flummoxed by them but I decline them all a/gambling that I won't get in an accident and b/noting that frequent business travelers always seem to decline it too, even when on expense account. I think it's kind of a scam.
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:34 AM on May 12, 2005

The poster does not have regular car insurance, so his "existing" insurance won't follow him. I will say though that I got in an accident with a rental car and they did not charge me a daily rate while it was out of commission or anything like that. It was a simple matter between them and my insurance company, I wasn't even involved, except to give a description of the accident to my insurance provider.
posted by RustyBrooks at 5:35 AM on May 12, 2005

Best answer: I don't know of any Amex cards that don't have rental collision and loss coverages. I'm quite surprised that you can't get a straight answer on this question. Call the rental program directly at 800-338-1670, and give them your card number. They should be able to tell you in an instant whether you are covered and what your limitations are.

While Amex's basic rental car insurance supplemental to your own car insurance, if you have no car insurance (because you have no car), it becomes primary, and pays everything for repairing or replacing the rental if its damaged or stolen.

However, and this is critical, Amex does not offer liability coverage. If you don't have your own car insurance, you MUST buy the LIABILITY insurance from the rental company. It's the best $10 a day you could ever spend.
posted by MattD at 5:43 AM on May 12, 2005

Best answer: Previously asked, but it looks like the asker had regular car insurance. In this situation, I agree with MattD and must say you must buy liability.
posted by zsazsa at 5:54 AM on May 12, 2005

You absolutely must buy liability. In most state, liability protection is legally required.

As for curiousleo's assertion that credit cards include insurance on car rentals, the scope is much narrower than he supposes. Gold Mastercards and Visas often include supplemental collision coverage, but none for liability or medical expenses. You should check your card's policies beforehand.

I've worked in car rental agencies, and the CDW (collision damage waiver; analagous to supplemental collision coverage) was a huge profit item for them. But the fact that it's extortionatly priced does not mean that it's superfluous.
posted by curtm at 6:48 AM on May 12, 2005

You also need to make certain that any coverage provided by your credit card is not secondary to the coverage they assume you have on your own car (which you do not have). Not every credit card will act as a primary insurer.
posted by Bezuhin at 6:51 AM on May 12, 2005

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