Most people don’t regularly rent cars. Generally, people need a rental car in two situations – either when their car is in the shop for repairs, or when traveling for vacation or business. Since most people don’t regularly rent vehicles, they are often confused about the interplay between car insurance and rental cars. Most rental agencies offer a variety of different insurance coverages which you can purchase at the time you rent the vehicle. However, if you have comprehensive and collision coverage, you may not need to purchase any additional insurance. Your existing, personal insurance policy may cover the rental car as it would your own car. Of course, you should check with your agent to confirm this before you rent a vehicle. In addition, if you are paying for the rental via a credit card, you may also have coverage, as some credit card companies offer rental coverage as part of their agreement with the cardholder. Again, you should check first with your card company to make sure. If you are already covered through another policy, it may be a waste of money to purchase additional coverage.
However, if you find yourself needing a rental car and you do not have insurance, or you have only minimum coverage, most rental car agencies will not rent a vehicle to you. If you have no coverage at all, you can purchase coverage through the rental car agency. Keep in mind, though, that such coverage is usually billed daily, based on the length of time you have the car, and often costs more than a regular personal insurance policy. If you have minimum coverage, but do not have collision coverage, many agencies will also not rent to you. In that case, you may need to purchase collision coverage from the rental car company, again at a rate that is usually higher than what a traditional, personal policy would charge. Before doing this, you should check with your insurance company or agent – some companies do allow you to add collision coverage to your existing policy for the duration of the rental. Again, this may be more affordable than whatever the rental agency would charge on a daily basis.
If you know that you are going to need a rental car, do your homework. Check your policies or call your agent. You could save yourself money by not purchasing unnecessary insurance or save yourself an eleventh-hour emergency when you find that no one will rent to you.