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Insurance Insights

Michael Riley

AAA Washington Insurance Agency

Do I Need Rental Car Insurance?

Most travelers have experienced that moment of uncertainty when a rental car agent asks if you want to purchase insurance. You don’t want to pay for something you don’t need, but you don’t want to be on the hook for thousands of dollars in repair bills. There’s no universal answer; as with most insurance-related issues, your coverage needs depend on a wide variety of factors.

The best way to prepare is to talk to your insurance agent before you depart for your journey (especially if you’re traveling to a foreign country), but here are some general guidelines to keep in mind.

You Probably Don’t Need to Buy Rental Insurance if:

  • You own a car that is well insured: Your personal car insurance coverage usually extends to rental cars. However, you need to have comprehensive and collision coverage on your insured vehicles to cover those types of damage to your rental car.
  • Your credit card provides coverage: Many credit cards provide rental car insurance that kicks in automatically when you use the card to pay. The level of protection can vary greatly from card to card, so review your credit card agreement or contact the bank that issued the card to confirm.

You May Want to Buy Rental Insurance if:

  • You don’t want to pay a deductible: Coverage offered by the rental company often has no deductible, while your own insurance or credit card deductible likely ranges from $100 to $2,500 or more.
  • You want to “insulate” your personal insurance: Getting in a crash can raise your insurance rates, sometimes even when it’s not your fault. If you purchase the rental company’s insurance, this coverage will be used first and your own insurance will essentially be untouched.
  • You’re renting an atypical vehicle: If you decide to splurge on an exotic supercar rental, it may not be covered by your personal car insurance or credit card. The same goes for large moving trucks (because of weight) and electric vehicles (because of the higher replacement costs).

Michael Riley

Director of Sales at AAA Washington Insurance Agency, has more than 25 years of experience in the insurance industry and is a guest lecturer at Washington State University.

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