3 ways to save on car rental insurance

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3 ways to save on car rental insurance

If you've ever rented a car, you know how unpleasant it can be to arrive at the counter only to feel pressured into buying expensive insurance.

Even if you don't need to purchase the car rental agency's insurance, you might still buy it because the salesperson has effectively convinced you that the protection is absolutely necessary. Then, when you are finally driving away, you realize that you just spent a ridiculous amount of money - about $25 a day - on insurance you don't need.

While you may be happy to leave this scenario in the rearview mirror, you realize your car rental days are not behind you. You may still rent cars from time to time - whether it's because you don't own your own vehicle, your car is in the shop, you are going on vacation, or maybe you're traveling on business. Whatever the reason, the next time you rent a car, you should be more informed about the type of insurance you need and how to get the most affordable coverage. In the long-run, this can save you time and aggravation at the rental car counter. Better yet, you'll hit the road faster with more money in your pocket.

Let's take a look at some car rental insurance alternatives:

  1. Your personal insurance policy will keep you covered. If you drive your own car, you should have insurance that protects you when driving any vehicle in the U.S., including a rental car. But, you may want to consider other types of coverage even if you have your own insurance. Why? If you are in an accident and need to file a claim through your auto insurance provider, you may be faced with higher insurance premiums for several years. You'll also be hit with paying your deductible.
  2. Your credit card company may offer rental car insurance benefits for free. Call your credit card company before renting a car to find out what benefits you have. Many credit card companies do offer some type of rental car insurance, however, this is typically secondary coverage within the U.S. This means that your own policy would kick in first if you are in an accident. But, if you don't have your own car insurance, your credit card may not offer you sufficient coverage, so it's best not to rely on that alone. Most major credit card companies offer collision damage waiver (CDW) or loss damage waiver (LDW), which pays for damages up to a certain amount. Credit cards typically do not offer liability insurance, which would cover injuries incurred in an accident. Another downside: Damage charges will end up on your credit card statement, leaving you to pay the bill and wait for reimbursement.
  3. You can buy insurance through InsureMyRentalCar.com for about 70% less than coverage at the rental desk. This UK-based company launched its online insurance service in 2014 to residents in all states except for Alaska, Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Vermont. The cost to you: About $7.50 a day, $17.50 for up to 31 days, or $93.99 annually for $100,000 in CDW protection. Coverage can be purchased from six months to one day in advance and covers your rental car use at home and overseas.

This third option is a great one, especially if you rent cars often as you never have to worry about arriving to pick up your rental car without adequate insurance, says Ernesto Suarez, CEO of Insure My Rental Car.

"We're trying to change the way people shop for rental car insurance and give customers a better deal. We specifically built this company to remove the stranglehold from rental car companies," says Suarez.

Besides the low cost, Insure My Rental Car offers primary coverage so you can bypass your own insurance company to place a claim and not risk premiums rising. There are also no deductibles to pay.

"This is a bargain. When did you ever think insurance was sexy? Well, this is," he says.

Photo credit: Chris Goldberg