Many of our clients have been injured in accidents where their car is damaged to the point of being totaled or being undrivable pending repairs. In these cases it is often necessary to get a rental car until the damaged vehicle can be replaced or repaired. The cost of the rental car will usually, but not always, be paid for by the owner’s insurance or by the insurance company for the person who caused the accident. When filling out the papers the rental company will offer the opportunity (for a price) to take out insurance to cover any accident which might happen while the car is rented, so the question which many people have is: Do I need to spend this extra money to be safely covered while driving the rental car?
The answer to this question is, generally, NO so long as your existing auto insurance is still in effect and provides enough coverage. In other words, almost all auto policies provide coverage when another vehicle is being driven by a person who is designated as a driver in the insurance policy, so this would include a rental car. The amount of coverage, meaning the policy limits, will be the same, so if there was not enough coverage to start with, it will be a good idea to get some extra protection when taking out a rental. Since the length of time the car will be rented is fairly short, the amount charged for this extra coverage will not a lot.
HOWEVER, if your policy does not include collision coverage, then you should purchase the collision coverage offered by the rental company. If the rental car should be damaged, no matter who may be at fault, you will be responsible, by the terms of the rental contract, to pay for the damage, so it is important for you to be covered. If the rental is being provided by the insurance company for the person who caused your car accident, then the law requires them to pay for the collision coverage if you don’t have it.
All of this may appear to be a bit complicated, but it is good to have a handle on it, because too often people will accept and pay for the extra insurance when they don’t need it.