You’re standing at the rental counter after enduring a five-hour flight, in the middle seat, behind a screaming baby. The only thing standing between you and the keys to a mediocre car is a middle-aged balding guy with a mountain of paperwork and upsell pitches.
You probably know that most of the upsells are garbage, like the pre-paid tank of fuel or the toll road service fee. Pass. But then he asks you if you want to get rental insurance, and not-so-subtly implies that you’re totally on the hook if you decline. You hesitate. Hmm, should you?
90% of the time, that answer is a resounding hell no (courtesy goes a long way, though, so a simple “No, thank you” should suffice). Here's why.
1. You own a car, so you’ve already got liability
If you're a car owner, and you’re not grossly negligent and in violation of the law every time you drive, you already have liability insurance. It covers anything you hit.
2. And your collision insurance covers a rental
Let’s say you’re a responsible adult, and you have proper collision insurance on your own car. Guess what? You should check with your insurer to verify, but your rental is almost certainly covered.
3. And your comprehensive covers a rental
Let's say you're an exceptionally responsible adult and you have comprehensive insurance. If someone steals that sexy rental Toyota Corolla? If a fence falls on it? No worries -- comprehensive will kick in, just like your collision insurance.
4. And your medical’s got you in the event of a wreck
Do you have health insurance? Is it remotely decent? Congratulations! Now, do you really think the $5/day product that the rental guy is offering is going to be better? That’s like ordering a burger from a fast food window and expecting it to taste like it just came off the grill.
5. And your homeowners' or renters' insurance takes care of your stuff
Rental companies offer “personal effects coverage,” which is very important-sounding. And it's tempting, since who knows when there might be a ne'er do well out to steal your stuff. Still, don’t buy it. If you have homeowners' or renters' insurance, you’re already covered.
6. You have a credit card
Fun fact: most credit cards already cover you for rental cars. All you have to do is pay for the rental using your card -- which most rental places prefer you do anyway -- and for the most part you’ve got the same coverage that you would otherwise be blowing your money on.
BONUS: the one time you should consider it
If you take your rental camping in an area where there’s likely to be falling tree limbs, and you’re dead set on camping there instead of somewhere more logical and safe, maybe you should get the insurance, in that one finite set of circumstances. The branch falling on your car might cause just enough damage to bump your insurance rate, as opposed to a quick “Here are the keys, sorry about that roof. I’ve got a plane to catch.”
Aaron Miller is the Rides editor for Supercompressor, and can be found on Twitter. The last time he rented a car, Svetlana gave him a two-minute spiel about insurance before he said no.
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