Who among us, when on vacation and renting a car, has looked at the rental agreement and asked “Am I covered if I get into a wreck, or should I buy the extra coverage?” Our advice – don’t ask the staff at a rental agency about car insurance, ask your insurance agent.
Typically, a driver is covered by their insurance in any car they drive if there is no other insurance on the car. In the event of an accident in a rental where the rental agency holds the driver responsible (because they declined coverage) then the insurance coverage on your vehicle would apply to that rental. Most cars you are going to rent would be covered in the event of even a total loss of both the vehicle you rent and the other driver’s vehicle if you have proper coverage.
If you pay for a rental with a credit card, you may have some coverage there, but it too will only pick up costs for a loss if there is no other coverage. Credit card insurance would be next in line behind the insurance for the car you own and insure. If you rent cars often, it makes sense to contact your credit card company and get written details from your credit card agreement about liability coverage.
Some rental agencies are offering “walk away” insurance. It allows the driver to essentially walk away from any damage without the headache of filling out paperwork – other than that required by local authorities.
All that said, the rule of thumb is that a person who has solid insurance for their own vehicle can skip the extra expense. The only caveat might be if you are going to rent an exotic car, though most firms that rent cars like a Porsche or Ferrari will most likely have a mandatory fee for extra insurance.
As always, talk to your insurance agent. Customers of the independent insurance agents of O’Connor Agency are always welcome to ask questions about the extent and limits of their coverage in various circumstances.