Your flights, hotel and car are booked for your trip to Florida. Bags are packed. You remembered the sunscreen, bathing suits and sunglasses. You haven’ t missed a trick, or have you? Have you taken out any additional travel insurance? You don’t think you need it, after all, you are probably covered through work or if you have one of those fancy gold or platinum credit cards, you must be covered, right? When it comes to car rental coverage, how much is enough? Anyway, nothing is going to happen to you, right?
Car accidents are more common than you think. Most accidents are little fender benders that aren’t life threatening, but promise to threaten the enjoyment of your hard-earned vacation for months to come if you are not properly insured.
Read the fine print
Many plans through work do provide for some extra health coverage, but most do not provide insurance coverage for your rental car and the type of coverage will differ depending on where you live.
Credit cards that offer travel insurance including car rental coverage vary so you need to do your homework. It is important to read the fine print and know what to ask. How much of a hassle will be involved in processing your claim and who is responsible for submitting it? What is the cost to the cardholder? Some will only cover certain types of vehicles. For instance, the American Express Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance provides insurance coverage to most card members, who are primary renters, for damage to and theft of the rental car in Florida at no extra charge as long as the car’s value does not exceed $50,000. (Platinum and Centurion card members insurance is provided for most vehicle types not exceeding $75,000.) However, the plan is an “excess” or secondary insurance plan that covers expenses not covered by other insurance plans such as personal auto policies. When these other plans apply, the card member must first seek payment or reimbursement from such plans first. It is important to consider how a claim may affect your personal auto insurance premiums.
Those seeking to cut insurance costs may choose to take out a rider on their existing personal auto or homeowners insurance. While this may save you money up front, in the event that you need to make a claim it will of course affect your insurance record, which may end up affecting your premium rates and costing you a lot more in the long run. When you waive coverage at the rental counter you are responsible for the repair of damage to the rental vehicle up front, and in most situations you will not be covered for the down time of the rental vehicle. Coverage does not include liability insurance. Technically, your insurance will cover you after you have looked after the claim after which you will be reimbursed. You will be asked to keep all bills, receipts and expenses and present a claim. Basic policy rules and the normal time frame will apply in adjusting your claim. You will also have to pay your deductible.
Choose the right coverage
It is important to understand your existing coverage before you accept or decline insurance coverages and waivers at the car rental counter. It is definitely a case of customer beware. Many renters are unsure about what to do when it comes to filling out the rental form when picking up their vehicle and you could end up taking out insurance that you don’t need, and incurring unnecessary costs, (as much as $25 per day) or worse, not being properly covered.
It is recommended that the easiest, and most economical way to fully protect yourself when renting a car in Florida is to take out the additional insurance coverage offered by your travel agent directly with the car rental company at the time of booking. Purchasing insurance in advance will save you money.
A well-informed travel agent will explain exactly what coverage you need and allow you to prepay it, leaving you to enjoy a worry free vacation or business trip. Happy motoring!