What rental car insurance should I get to protect myself from the worst-case scenario?

I'll be renting a car soon and I want to be sure I'll be covered for the worst-case scenario, i.e. a situation where I am at fault in a crash, wreck both vehicles, and injure the other driver. Which kind of rental car insurance should I get?

Insurance offered by rental car companies can be very expensive; why pay for it if you don’t have to? Before you rent a car, check your personal auto policy or call your carrier for advice. If you already carry comprehensive and collision coverage, then you’re in luck — your personal auto coverage will typically extend to your rental car. If you’ve elected to carry a liability-only policy, then it’s better to purchase physical damage coverage directly from the rental car company.
Now, here’s where things can get a little tricky. Rental car companies have a clause called “loss of use.” Let’s say you have an accident with your rental car and it takes a week for the rental car company to get it repaired. They’re losing out on a week’s worth of rental income from that vehicle, and in many states, they can charge you daily for their “loss of use” of that car. Loss of use may not be covered by your carrier, so it’s very important to check the rental contract and to consult with your insurer.
If your carrier doesn’t offer this coverage, you can buy it from the rental car company or you can check with your credit card company. Several credit card companies offer special deals and features you may not be aware of. Physical damage coverage for rental cars and towing packages are common benefits, and they’re worth looking into.
Shannon Martin
Answered on Mar 12, 2021
Shannon is an expert in personal lines liability insurance with 13 + years of insurance industry experience. She also served as a special insurance liaison to AARP members for 6 of those years. She is a graduate of UL Lafayette and currently resides in NY with her family. Shannon is also an amateur juggler, ukulele player, and is a time travel paradox theory enthusiast.

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