You’re standing at the rental car counter with a long line behind you. You got a great rate on a car for the week, and you’re ready to go on vacation with the family. Then, you’re handed a clipboard with an intimidating rental car contract filled with confusing insurance options. Suddenly, you wish you'd spent less time packing and more time researching rental car insurance.
Here’s your chance to be prepared at the rental car counter so you can be on your way faster, and you’ll keep the people in line behind you happy.
I have car insurance. Do I really need to buy their coverage, too?
This is the most common question when it comes to renting a car. The answer is: it depends. You want to make sure you’re covered, but you also don’t want to pay for unnecessary duplicate coverages that could double the price of your rental.
The first step is to check your auto insurance policy, or contact GEICO to see what your coverage is. If you carry comprehensive and liability coverage on your personal car, coverage will extend to your rental car. If you’re renting a car of similar value to your personal car, in all likelihood the insurance coverages will be adequate for the rental.
You should also check with the credit card company — the credit card that you’ll be using for your car rental. If there are any gaps in coverage with your personal auto policy, the credit card company may provide secondary coverage.
Rental Car Coverages Defined
Know before you go. The rental company will offer four main options that in many cases you probably don’t need. Just find out if the coverages below are duplicate coverages you already have.
Collision Damage Waiver (CDW)/Loss Damage Waiver – This is not an insurance product, but rather a waiver that transfers financial responsibility from you to the rental car company in case of damage or theft. In most cases, waivers also provide coverage for “loss of use” if the rental car company charges for the time a damaged car can not be used because it is being repaired.
As previously mentioned, check with your auto insurer and credit card company to make sure you’re already adequately covered, and you may be able to decline this coverage.
Liability Insurance – If you have adequate liability coverage on your own vehicle, this is one coverage you can always decline on your rental.
Personal Effects Coverage – If you have a homeowners, renters or condo policy, your personal items will generally be covered even if they are stolen from a rental car. Review your policy documents to be sure, then decline this coverage.
Personal Accident Insurance – This will cover your medical bills in the event of a crash in the rental car. As long as you have personal injury protection on your auto policy or adequate health insurance, you can decline this coverage.
Video and Quiz: The Basics of Rental Car Insurance
Review time! This short video from the Insurance Information Institute goes into even more detail about rental car insurance. Or, maybe you’d just rather watch a video than read about insurance.
Want even more? Take our interactive Car Rental Quiz.
The above is meant as general information and as general policy descriptions to help you understand the different types of coverages. These descriptions do not refer to any specific contract of insurance and they do not modify any definitions expressly stated in any contracts of insurance. We encourage you to speak to your insurance representative and to read your policy contract to fully understand your coverages.