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That’s a decision travelers will face this holiday season when standing at the car rental counter. And according to a new study by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), many consumers don’t know whether they should purchase insurance from the rental agency. Many do so without knowing whether their existing auto policies or credit card benefits already cover their needs.
To save yourself from what might be an unnecessary expense, do some research prior to renting a car and determine whether you really need insurance from the rental company.

  • Ask your credit card company whether there are limitations on rental car coverage.
  • If your current auto insurance policy doesn't offer coverage for a rental car, see if an insurance rider can be added for a small fee.
  • Many credit cards include some level of collision and theft protection. In most cases, these benefits are secondary to your personal auto insurance or the car rental company's insurance, meaning the credit card company will only pay claims after other insurance coverage has been exhausted.
  • Keep in mind that if it is a longer-term rental (e.g., a week, a month or more), there might be limitations on the coverage your existing auto insurance policy provides. Check with your insurance company or agent for details.
  • If you don't own a car, you might want to consider purchasing a non-owner auto insurance policy, because it provides benefits in addition to coverage for a rental car.
  • When traveling on business, a personal auto policy will generally not apply, so check with your employer for guidance.