If you’ve ever rented a car, you know that one of the biggest fees that could be tacked on to your bill is the fee for optional insurance coverage. Many people opt into this coverage because they’re concerned about the possibility of having liability for an accident when driving a rental car. But the optional insurance coverage isn’t really a great deal—there’s usually a deductible and it can up your bill by $50 a day.
Of course, if you don’t have any coverage, it’s the best deal going at the moment, so you should probably take it. But you might be surprised to know that you might have coverage you don’t know about. Even if you don’t have an auto insurance policy to cover a vehicle of your own, you very well might have coverage. How? Through your Visa credit card!
If you do have insurance on your own vehicle, you’re probably already covered in the event of an accident when in a rental car; to be certain, check with your insurance agent. Even then, your credit card policy may cover things that your regular insurance policy doesn’t, so you’ll pay less out of pocket—but only if you file a claim!
Research Your Coverage Now
Not every card’s insurance coverage is created equal, and some offer little-to-no coverage. Don’t wait until an accident occurs to find out whether or not you’re covered; check out your policy now! Most credit cards with a Visa logo cover theft, damages, and towing, depending on whether or not you have a traditional auto insurance policy.
Another bonus offered by many Visa credit card companies is that they will reimburse the deductible from your regular insurance. Now that’s a great deal!
Also—watch for exclusions. Some coverage won’t apply to personal items or accidents in some foreign countries for example.
What About Other Credit Cards?
You’ll find that many other credit cards also have rental car insurance coverage policies baked into their contracts, although most are not as comprehensive as Visa’s plans.
For example, Mastercard’s insurance coverage varies a great deal because the company leaves it up to the issuing bank. It really depends on the bank that the card was issued from, so you need to do some extra research.
Some cards, however, offer even more coverage than Visa—usually, these are elite cards like Chase’s “Sapphire Preferred” and Discover’s “Escape.” These two high-end cards offer primary coverage, which means you don’t have to go through your regular insurance company first. That’s a bonus if you’d rather not make a claim that could drive your regular insurance up.
Some other cards have more complex systems, making it all the more important that you research before you have an accident. For example, American Express offers secondary coverage—but you can switch it to primary coverage for a low fee when you get a rental car.
Make Sure You Refuse The Collision Insurance Offered By The Rental Company
If you already have coverage via your credit card and/or your primary insurance company, Make sure you do not accept the collision insurance offered by the rental company. And by make sure, we mean to make absolutely sure. Why? Because rental company clerks have been known to be extraordinarily insistent about signing you up. Sometimes, they breeze through that portion, just pointing out where you should sign.
So, be sure to read all of the fine print. If you sign up for their insurance, it can make it difficult or impossible to access the better coverage you already have through your visa card.