SALT LAKE CITY – Road trips became cool again — no small thanks to the pandemic — and rental cars have become a staple in the great summer vacation. If you rent a car, do you need the rental insurance the desk agent strongly recommends?
It is a question that can push people at the rental counter into making an expensive, last-minute decision: Do you want our car rental insurance?
"They're much more pricey than what your average car insurance premium will be for your own car," said Andrew Hurst, data writer for LendingTree, about insurance policies sold by car rental companies.
Those policies can tack on anywhere from $15 to $50 additional cost to your rental. Before you say yes, make sure your own insurance policy or even your credit card does not already have you covered.
"It is probably the last resort, purchasing the CDW through the rental car company," Hurst said.
Some people just may need that last resort. If you do, rental car companies offer four types of coverage.
- The collision damage waiver, which covers damage to the car from accidents, vandalism or theft.
- Liability, which covers you in case you are sued for causing damage or injury with the rental.
- Personal accident, which covers the doctor bills for you and your passengers.
- Personal effects, which pays for things stolen from the rental.
If you purchased full coverage on your personal car, it likely transfers to your rental car and makes all four options unnecessary. Plus, your credit card might cover something your personal policy does not. To be certain, Hurst said, ask your insurance agent before walking up to the rental counter.
"If you don't know what type of coverage your existing auto insurance policy carries, or if you have a credit card that offers those benefits — if you don't know what that stuff offers and you just know that auto insurance is required to legally drive, they (rental car companies) have a lot of leverage in that situation to charge the higher prices," Hurst explained.
One advantage to buying their policy is that it stops them from coming after you for any sort of damage months later.
Whether you opt to buy, you should never ignore any chips, dents or scratches on the rental car.
Take pictures or video of the car with your phone both when you check it out and then again when you return it.