June 20, 2016

Do you need to purchase rental car insurance?

With the summer in full swing, many families will hit the road for summer vacations. For different reasons, many people opt to rent a car versus driving their own.

Do you need it?

Probably not, but how can you be sure? The best way is to be prepared and know what your current personal auto insurance covers. Most employees behind the counter at a rental car company is (usually) not a licensed insurance professional. He or she is not conversant with insurance laws and won’t know whether or not your personal auto policy covers you when you rent a vehicle (in most circumstances, it does).

If you have insurance for your own cars, including collision and comprehensive coverages, you don’t need the rental car insurance- provided you are not renting the vehicle for business purposes.

According to the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) rental car agencies offer collision damage waivers and liability policies. The collision damage waiver isn’t insurance. It’s an agreement that the rental company won’t, with some exceptions, make you pay for any damage to a car you rent.

If you have auto insurance, your policy might already cover damage to a rental car, but the coverage might be less than the value of a rental car. Read your policy to know what’s covered and the coverage limits. If your coverage limit is too low, consider increasing it. You’ll pay more in premium, but it might be cheaper than buying additional coverage through the rental agency, especially if you rent cars often. If you aren’t sure if your policy covers damage to a rental car, ask your agent before you rent the car.

If you don’t own a car, but borrow a car often, you can buy a nonowner liability policy. A nonowner policy pays for damages and injuries you cause to others when driving a borrowed car, but it doesn’t pay for your injuries or damage to the car you’re driving. Some policies provide only liability coverage on a rental car.

If you’re on vacation, just say no. If you’re on vacation but planning to do some business, you’re probably OK. But you should talk to your auto insurance agent if you mix business and pleasure on the trips where you plan to rent a car.

One thing to remember: Your collision and comprehensive coverages on your personal auto policy have deductibles (the amount you must pay before the insurance kicks in). Those deductibles apply to damage to rental cars as well.

If you don’t have collision and comprehensive coverages, your personal auto policy won’t cover damages to the rental car if it is in an accident, stolen, vandalized, collides with an animal, or burns. In this event, you should consider buying the rental car’s company’s collision damage waiver (CDW) or loss damage waiver (LDW).

If you have any questions, feel free to call our Mansfield office at 817-277-6166 or our Midlothian office at 469-612-5020.

We are an independent insurance agent serving  Mansfield, Midlothian and surrounding cities.