Car rental insurance, yea or nay?
December 14, 2007 5:15 PM   Subscribe

Driving from Denver to Portland and back in a rental car, in January....

I'm renting a car here in Denver and driving back to Portland, OR to pick up my dying dog and bring her home with me. Since I don't own a car here in Denver, I'm really concerned about the whole rental insurance thing, especially since this is a long trip in the middle of winter and I'll be driving part of it alone. I've read through a lot of past rental questions but I'm still confused. Since I'll be using my Visa, can I turn down the insurance from the rental company? I am poor poor poor and can only do this because I got the car on special for $70.00 for a week, unlimited mileage. If I do need more insurance, should I try to get some sort of temporary car insurance through a real insurance company and not the rental place? I have a perfect driving record but I'm nervous about this whole trip. Thanks!
posted by yodelingisfun to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How long is your trip going to last? Basically, you have to weigh your insurance deductible against what it would cost to get the damage waiver from the rental company. Typically, unless you're taking a short trip somewhere hazardous (i.e. Vegas), it's not worth it to get the insurance from the rental company. However, this all depends on your own insurance policy. Also look into programs your credit card might offer. I know American Express has a rental coverage policy that costs something like $20 for the entire rental that covers you just as much as the rental company's policy, and obviously costs much less.
posted by rooftop secrets at 5:41 PM on December 14, 2007

I'll be gone from 1/11-1/18 and since I have no car of my own, I have car insurance of my own. I'm not sure that the drive is "hazardous" but it is long and I'll be traveling through several mountain ranges in mid January; with a dying pug for half of it. So much stress....
posted by yodelingisfun at 5:45 PM on December 14, 2007

Look into something like this.
posted by rooftop secrets at 6:05 PM on December 14, 2007

How is Vegas hazardous?

Also, your rental car company knows you are taking the car out of state, right? Many don't allow it without prior authorization. You don't want to have an accident where you're not supposed to be.
posted by clh at 7:33 PM on December 14, 2007

The link to Visa's program rooftop secrets tells you about the CDW coverage for users of the Visa card.

In April, I was driving a Hertz rental and a semi truck knocked up a piece of road debris onto the hood of the rental leaving a big dent in the hood. When I brought it back to the rental agency they the gave me a "damage report" slip and about three weeks later I got a bill from the Hertz home office for $800 for the repairs. In the bill, there's a line saying that if you have insurance for your own car or from the credit card company to contact them.

I called the Visa number and found filed a claim. The way the rule works is you have to rent the car with the qualifying Visa card in a country where it is offered (the USA is obvious). They will want a copy of the paperwork from the Hertz bill. There are lists of exclusions where they won't pay -- you rented some sort of commercial truck or van or exotic car like a Ferrari. They won't pay if you were doing something illegal like driving drunk or high, etc. Or if it was stolen and you were negligent in not locking it or leaving it running while you ran into a store. This Visa insurance acts as secondary insurance to your car insurance if you have it. In my case, I have car insurance so the Visa insurance would pay what my personal car insurance wouldn't pay. The people at the Visa claims number were quite helpful and responsive. As it turns out, in Texas, my auto insurance's liability insurance would pay for damage to a third party's property with zero deductible so I never had to file the final claim with Visa.

If I were doing what you are doing I'd just charge the rental to my Visa and if I did get in a wreck, I'd file a claim with them. I rent cars a lot and always decline the insurance offered by the rental agency. I got from my talking to the Hertz person and the Visa person is they process claims all the time so it is pretty simple if something happens and there's little to no out of pocket $ for you. But the overwhelming odds are nothing will happen and you won't have to worry.
posted by birdherder at 9:50 PM on December 14, 2007

I disagree with Birdherder. I rent cars quite a lot and I always turn down insurance -- I got a no-fee gold card specifically for this purpose -- but your situation sounds particularly stressful, and the last thing you need is to worry about this. It is expensive but it will provide you peace of mind on a trip that sounds hard enough.

I'm so sorry about your little dude, by the way. Best wishes to you both.
posted by loiseau at 12:11 AM on December 15, 2007

Thanks! The rental car company said it was cool to drive anywhere I wanted as long as I stayed in the US. So visa it is and then I can my poor Reba home.
posted by yodelingisfun at 12:11 AM on December 15, 2007

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