Jesse's Tips: Rental car insurance



Posted on July 20, 2010 at 11:25 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 30 at 10:10 AM

The big question for anyone who rents a car or truck: Do I pay a little extra for the coverage offered by the rental company or not?

Danielle Sexton wonders about the hard sell.

"They make you think they will take everything away from you if you don't sign it," she said.

Insurance commissioner Mike Kreidler says that 'loss-damage waiver' won't pay to fix the car, your insurance company will still have to that. But it will pay for the deductible you'd have to pay out of pocket.

"They're still going to go after your insurance company, so your insurance company may be so to speak the deep pocket," he said.

Before you take the keys you need to know a few things.

If you only have liability, see if you can add coverage for a rental car for your trip.

If you're paying with a credit card, sometimes the card issuer will insure you. Ask before your trip.

If you don't own a car and don't have insurance, use that credit card option or buy a short-term policy.

"If you don't have any automobile insurance and you rent a car, you are potentially putting yourself, personally and financially, at risk," he added.

For Danielle's trip, she'll have no problems declining extra coverage. She's found a deal with her American Express card: For $25 she's fully covered.

"I don't want to be liable for anything that happens, so I'm just covering my own self," she said.

One more thing to keep in mind: If you rent a moving truck, you may not be covered with your own policy. There are often weight restrictions. Call your insurance company and find out. It might be a good idea to buy some extra insurance.

For consumer concerns, e-mail Jesse at or call toll-free 877-51-JESSE.

The Office of the Insurance Commissioner has contacted KING-5 to correct information they released to us for our story. Below is a copy of the email we received.

When preparing talking points for the interview, one of our insurance analysts got a key detail wrong. In most cases, the collision damage waiver (also known as a loss damage waiver) will pay the entire cost of damage to the car. This is contrary to what we said in the story.


That said, there are cases in which you pay for a waiver of your deductible and a car rental company will go after your insurer, but these go by a slightly different names, such as Hertz’s “partial damage waiver.” This is what our analyst was apparently thinking of.


Also, in many cases, the collision damage waiver is voided if you violate the terms of the rental contract (e.g. letting an unapproved driver drive, for example, getting a traffic citation, driving on a dirt road, etc.) In those cases, your insurance would be the fallback.


The bottom line is that if renters opt to buy either type of these waivers, they need to make sure you read the details and know what you’re getting. But collision damage waivers/loss damage waivers typically DO pay the entire cost of damage to the car.


If there’s any way to add a correction or clarification to the story, it would be much appreciated. Sorry about that.