If you tend to shrug off salespeople at the airport car rental counter, go ahead and feel smug: Most people don’t need rental car insurance. “If you have coverage through a personal auto policy, it will probably cover you when you’re driving a rental,” says Ron Fredrickson, manager of consumer advocacy for the insurance division of Oregon’s Department of Consumer and Business Services. You’re also likely covered by your credit card company if you pay with a credit card.
Still, says Pete Moraga, a spokesperson for the Insurance Information Network of California, “find out what they offer.” Lower-level cards—silver instead of platinum, say—might have mediocre coverage, and auto policies may have their own holes, such as theft.
If your personal auto policy has a high deductible, or if you don’t have comprehensive or collision damage, consider purchasing supplemental insurance at the check-in counter. Just remember that it will cost you. “Collision damage waivers are pretty spendy at rental companies,” Fredrickson says.
To learn about AAA auto insurance, visit AAA.com/insurance.
This article was first published in March 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.