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Attorney Van O'Steen

Many Insurance Policies Cover Rental Car

Van O'Steen

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It is an obvious understatement to say that most automobile insurance policies are difficult to understand. Most policyholders are not fully aware of the extent of their coverage or the limitations on it.

One effect of this lack of understanding is that many drivers incur unnecessary expense when they rent a car.

Car rental companies sell auto insurance to their customers to cover the rented car.  In many instances, this insurance is unnecessary; it duplicates coverage provided by the renter's automobile policy.

Liability coverage protects you against claims made by others for injuries or damage caused by you in an automobile accident. I am not aware of any insurance policy that fails to protect the policyholder for liability when he or she is driving a rental car. In addition, companies that rent cars in Arizona are required to provide basic liability insurance for their customers.  It is not necessary to pay an additional fee for this protection.

Collision coverage pays for damage to your car caused by an accident.  Many insurance policies extend your collision coverage to cars you rent; some do not.

I recently, spoke with representatives of three major automobile insurance companies in the United States. Two of them said their policies extended collision cover age to most rental cars; the third was evasive.

The only common exception among the insurance companies that extend accident collision coverage to rental cars applies to a "rental substitute car." This is a car you rent temporarily to replace your car when it is inoperable. For this collision protection, you must pay a modest additional fee to your insurance company. In most cases, this fee will be only a few dollars.

Whether you rent cars on a regular basis or only occasionally, I recommend you get advance written clarification from your insurance agent regarding the applicability of your coverage to rental cars. If you are protected adequately, you may be able to save yourself the cost of the duplicate, and often more expensive, coverage sold by rental car companies.