Unfortunately it is a gray answer so we recommend you purchase at least the “Collision Damage Waiver”. Normally the client is somewhat confused on what the “gray” answer is but the beach is calling and they want to get on their way. So, I thought with this blog article I would hit on two reasons why it is a “gray” answer when it comes to purchasing insurance from the rental car company on a rental car.
The first reason is contract language. Two contracts would be involved if you did not purchase rental car insurance from the rental car company. The contracts would be the one between you and the rental car company (the one you sign in order to rent the car) and the contract between you and your personal auto insurance company. Each of these contracts can be different depending on which rental car company you are using, which state you are in and which personal auto insurance company you have. Because of this there are all kinds of possible gaps in insurance coverage. An example gap is “loss of use”. A number of rental car companies will charge you for the loss of use of the car while it is in the repair shop after you caused an accident that damaged the vehicle. This means that if it takes a week for the car to be repaired they will charge you a week of rental. Some insurance companies do pay this extra cost and some don’t. Gaps like this can be avoided by just spending the extra money on “Collision Damage Waiver”.
A second reason we feel it is a gray topic and you should just purchase the extra coverage is that often times you drop off a car after your trip and no one from the rental car company is present to help you check for damages to the car. We have had a couple of cases where our clients received a letter from the rental car company seeking money for a ding or scratch. They swear they never caused any damage to the car. Unfortunately, when they turned the car in there was no one to sign off that the car was returned undamaged. So, when another vacationer in an unfamiliar car at an unfamiliar airport (who is late for their flight) pulls in next to you to drop off their rental car, and they bump into the car you had just dropped off twenty minutes ago, you have no way of proving you where no longer responsible for the vehicle when the damage occurred.
So we recommend you play it safe next time you rent a car and purchase at least the “Collision Damage Waiver”.