Car Rental -- My Own Insurance or Hertz's?
February 3, 2013 10:49 AM   Subscribe

I am going to Kona (yay!) and renting a car for just under two weeks. When I get to the counter, I want to avoid my usual confusion, and random behavior, when dealing with insurance coverage.

I have done everything, from buying a full waiver, to buying nothing, and in between. But I have always done it with a sense of ignorance. I have pretty robust car insurance (500K bodily injury, 100K property damage) with a $100 comprehensive and $500 collision deductible.

To get fully waivered will cost $355, which, in the case of an accident, will be cheaper than the $500 deductible. But I am willing to bet $145 that I can avoid a mishap over there for 12 days.

Is there anything else that I should consider? What do y'all do when you are about to get the keys, and they run this by you at the counter?

Also, paying with a debit card, so not sure how the VISA insurance applies, if it does.
posted by Danf to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
See answer to previous ask.
posted by thewildgreen at 10:53 AM on February 3, 2013

Buying insurance from a rental car company is one of the least cost-efficient ways of doing it. Check to see if your credit card has insurance, otherwise rely on your own. Getting in an accident is going to suck, but the odds are low. And there's no guarantee that being on the rental company's insurance will prevent your rates from going up in the event of an accident, as traffic violations will show up on your license regardless, and your loss history shows up on ChoicePoint.

Never, ever buy insurance from rental car companies. It's not precisely a scam, because they do in fact provide the services they describe, but it's certainly a rip-off.
posted by valkyryn at 10:54 AM on February 3, 2013

Hawaii is a no-fault accident insurance state, if that factors into your decision at all.

I rented a car there very recently, and when I called my mainland (California) insurance company, they said don't bother purchasing the waiver.

Also of note: the rental company had a big sign posted saying that they don't accept debit cards at the time you pick up the car. They accepted my Visa debit card. Does your debit card have a credit card logo on it?
posted by nacho fries at 10:56 AM on February 3, 2013

nacho fries:Also of note: the rental company had a big sign posted saying that they don't accept debit cards at the time you pick up the car. They accepted my Visa debit card. Does your debit card have a credit card logo on it?

This is important. Car rental firms either do not accept or have restrictions on Debit cards. And they will place a big hold on your funds as soon as you rent. See Hertz policy in this FAQ.
posted by thewildgreen at 11:10 AM on February 3, 2013

Response by poster: My debit card is a VISA. If there is a glitch, I can use another VISA card I carry around, but do not use. I have rented card with this debit before, with no problems.
posted by Danf at 11:18 AM on February 3, 2013

It might also be worth calling your bank to let them know in advance that you'll be travelling to Hawaii, and making a bunch of purchases with your debit card, including the big hit at the car rental agency. This will keep them from freezing your debit card while you are mid-travel.

Though Hawaii is of course a part of the U.S., it seems to raise more red flags than travel to mainland states, in my experience, when it comes to stuff like credit/debit card purchases.
posted by nacho fries at 11:19 AM on February 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Different cards offer different perks. Most credit cards only provide secondary coverage. If your card offers primary coverage, letting you bypass your car insurance entirely if something goes wrong, it's a no-brainer to use it.
posted by payoto at 11:20 AM on February 3, 2013

One thing to consider is that if you do get into an accident, and you aren't using their preferred insurance, it's going to make your life a heck of a lot more difficult in terms of getting everything paid and squared away.
posted by zug at 12:01 PM on February 3, 2013

Those insurance premiums you pay to your car insurance company support a substantial corps of insurance agents. Call one, or write an e-mail, to get a clear answer from them. For bonus points, include text from the car rental agency detailing their insurance requirements and offerings. Get an answer that indicates you're just as protected as you would be were you driving your own car.

The one time I did this, my insurer maybe added a small provision to my current policy to cover rental cars -- or maybe I already had it, don't remember. I was glad I'd checked, though. So much more cost effective than the rental agency's policy, but it's worth _knowing_ and your insurer is the one to ask. Most people probably don't have to do this, although my insurer is reputable.
posted by amtho at 1:06 PM on February 3, 2013

I look at what would cost more--my deductible or total cost of rental insurance and decide that way. TWICE, I have rented cars that have been hit while parked. Once, it was in Maui on the way back to the airport (we stopped at the beach). Because of traffic, we barely made our flight and it was great to have less that 1 minute of hassle over the caved in driver's side door before running to catch the plane.

One time, a huge concrete chunk fell from somewhere (kids? construction accident?) and bashed in the roof of a Mini I had rented. Apparently, the rental gods are not on my side!

Also, yes to telling your bank/cc company in advance that you are going to Hawaii. My cards got frozen when I got there because of a fraud alert and it was not what I wanted to deal with while on vacation!
posted by dottiechang at 2:24 PM on February 3, 2013

Response by poster: I talked to my insurance agent last week and she said that I was as covered as I would be in my own car. She also said that she has HEARD of companies charging customers for "loss of use," while repairs are being made. She has never heard of that happening, but she ceded that it is a possibility.
posted by Danf at 2:32 PM on February 3, 2013

I have no idea how this might translate to an American situation, but here in Australia I take out travel insurance. One of the features of the policy (or most policies) is that they will cover the excess on any car rental insurance you take out.

That is, if you get into an accident or whatever, your travel insurance company will pay the car insurance company whatever the mandatory out-of-pocket fee is, which seems to be what you call the "deductible".

This means that at the car rental office, when they ask whether you want the policy with a low premium but high excess/deductibe, or high premium with low excess/deductible, you choose the first option because your travel insurance policy will pick up the high excess/deductible on your behalf.

AFAIK, car rental companies make it mandatory to take out insurance here. Also, your personal car insurance is for your personal vehicle, and not transferable to other cars. Your mileage may vary.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:20 PM on February 3, 2013

You really can't trust the person at the car rental counter. I was told to my face in LA that my personal car or travel insurance would not cover rental cars and that such a thing never ever happens (after checking this in advance with my insurance company)
posted by xiw at 7:55 PM on February 3, 2013

Ask your insurance agent about zeroing your deductibles on your existing insurance policy. When you return from your trip, return them to the current 100/500. This will give you the same coverage as the rental car waiver, and I would imagine it will cost far less than $350.
posted by chazlarson at 9:23 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also, your personal car insurance is for your personal vehicle, and not transferable to other cars.

Not typically true in the US as applied to rental cars. Here in MN, my personal auto insurance covers me from the first dollar [i.e. no deductible, even if my personal car insurance has a high deductible] in rental cars [within the US]. Also, a loss I have in a rental car does not affect my insurance rates.
posted by chazlarson at 9:29 AM on February 4, 2013

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