Car Purchase-smallRental Car Insurance: Should I buy it?

When it comes to rental car insurance, there are some people that automatically refuse it thinking it is a plot to increase the price of the car rental and there are others who purchase it simple to make sure they are fully covered without knowing whether they actually need it.

The big question is, do you have the insurance coverage with a rental car that you need to protect yourself and your family if you are involved in a collision? And the typical lawyer answer is, well it depends.

There are times when you would be better off with the extra insurance; there are times when it is not worth the extra expense. So, how do you know what is best for you and your family? Before you get to the rental car company, consider these questions:

Do I already have insurance coverage from a car that I already own?

If you do already have primary auto insurance coverage, you will be covered for any accidents that occur while you are driving your rental car. You need to be sure that the person driving the rental car is also covered under your insurance policy. Many policies will include household members, but there may be specific exclusions in your policy. You will need to specifically look at the insurance policy and declaration page to see who is covered and who is excluded under your policy.

Your primary liability insurance will cover injuries to others or damage to their property if you are at fault. Your collision coverage will pay for damage to the rental car. Your comprehensive coverage will take care of damage that results from theft or vandalism. If any of your personal possessions are stolen from your rental car, homeowners insurance will usually cover that loss.

If you do not have full coverage on your existing car, such as a 15/30 liability policy, it would be best to purchase the additional coverage such as the collision damage waiver from the rental company.

While on the topic of insurance coverage for your car, the State of California only requires a 15/30 liability policy to have your car on the road. That is hardly enough to protect yourself or your family. When purchasing auto insurance, it is highly advisable to carry at least 100/300 full coverage with matching underinsured and uninsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. Most people do not know that it does not cost that much more for UM/UIM coverage.

The reason everyone should have UM/UIM coverage is that there a large number of people on the road driving without licenses or suspended licenses that either have no insurance or a 15/30 policy. It only takes one serious collision to cause a serious injury to you or your family. If you do not have the UM/UIM coverage, you could be left with substantial medical bills that can’t be paid and a life time of pain that you cannot get compensated for.

For those who are currently driving without the bare minimum of liability as required by California law, if you cause a collision, you will be held personally financially responsible for all of the injury and physical damage you cause. If you are injured by another, the law limits your compensation for special damages only such as property damage, medical bills and lost wages. You will not be able to recover for any of your pain and suffering regardless of how severe your injuries are. Obviously, it is extremely ill advised to drive without insurance.

Does your credit card offer any protection?

Many credit cards come with rental car insurance for accidents and theft. Sometimes it is primary insurance, although more often it is secondary insurance which means it will only cover a loss after all other insurance options have been exhausted.

With primary coverage from a credit card like American Express, if you get into an accident your otehr primary insurance will not be involved which can avoid a potential rate increase. With a company like American Express, you can purchase Premium Rental Car Protection that is fairly inexpensive and offers fairly comprehensive coverage while you use your rental car. It is best to know if this is an option for you before you rent your car. If you can get comprehensive primary coverage through your credit card company at a fair rate, you can avoid having to purchase the insurance from the rental car company altogether.

In any case, you will usually need to rent the car with the particular card that offers the coverage. If you want to use a credit card’s insurance coverage, it is best to contact your credit card company first to see what is exactly covered and whether there are any limitations to the coverage.

What kind of coverage do you need in a foreign country?

United States insurance policies are usually honored in Canada, but not always in Mexico or other countries. If you intend to take your rental car out of California across the border, you will probably need a separate policy for driving there. It is best to check with your insurance company and the rental company first to see if any additional coverage is needed.

If you are planning to drive in other foreign countries, when you are at the counter of a rental company ask about additional limits to make sure that you are fully protected. As for credit card coverage, before booking the car make sure that the credit card primary coverage applies to the country you are in.

As with any vacation or business trip, we at Faulkner Law Offices wish you a safe and happy time. Make sure you have the protection you need for your family when you go.

Faulkner Law Offices handles automobile, large vehicle and trucking cases in Bakersfield and the Kern County area. If you, or someone you know, has been injured by a automobile, large vehicle or truck, you need attorneys that are experienced in this area. It takes a lot of time, care, commitment and research to obtain a successful verdict in personal injury cases. If you need our help, please call us at (661) 327-0601. Our main website is www. We are trucking lawyers in the Bakersfield and Kern County area. We have over 40 years of experience in handling personal injury cases.

The information and materials on this blog are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Being general in nature, the information and materials provided may not apply to any specific factual and/or legal set of circumstances.  No attorney-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. Nothing on this blog is intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney, especially an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. If you require legal advice, please consult with a competent attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction. Past results are no guarantee of future results.

Matthew J. Faulkner, Esq. Bakersfield Attorney

Faulkner Law Offices, Bakersfield Injury Attorneys