Rental Car Coverage: What do you need?

As warm weather approaches and we plan our summer vacations, for many of us, this includes airline travel, hotels and rental cars.  I am often asked by customers if it is necessary to purchase coverage from the rental company.  Years ago the usual answer was – If you have full coverage on one of your vehicles, the additional coverage isn’t necessary.  As with most things today, exceptions to rules are no longer just exceptions.  


When renting a car, pickup or van in the U.S. or Canada, your policy will extend liability for bodily injury or property damage you are responsible for.   If you carry Comprehensive and Collision on at least one of your vehicles, your policy will pay for damages to the rental car.  You should still consider purchasing the optional Collision or Loss Damage Waiver.  Though your policy or your credit card may pay to repair the damage, Rental companies have come up with other charges not covered by your insurance.  

After one persons auto policy paid $6,000 to repair a damaged rental car, the rental company sued them for an additional $9,000 to cover the reduction in the car’s value.  Rental companies also charge you for loss of rental income while the car is being repaired.  Your policy doesn’t cover this, though your credit might.

The Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner regulates all types of insurance in Washington, including coverage sold by rental companies.  Their website includes regulations specific to rental car companies.   For travel in other states, you can visit The National Association of Insurance Commissioners website.  This site includes information about the regulatory bodies in each state as well as helpful information about different travel insurance policies.  

Washington State Auto Insurance policies are not all the same.  It is important to review your coverage before you plan your vacation.

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