If you rent a car, should you get rental car insurance?

Typically, when you rent a car there’s a process you follow. You go up the counter, hand over your credit card and do all the obligatory signing. Then the person behind the counter asks is if you want to get insurance for the car. Most people say no, but is that the best thing to do?

There are certain things you may want to investigate in more detail. For example, the loss damage waiver is one thing you may want to pay attention to. If there are any damages to the rental car while you have it, you’re responsible, and you will have to pay unless it is covered by your credit card or personal car insurance.

There may be some things your personal car insurance policy doesn’t cover, and it would be smart to find out before you rent a car. If there is anything you’re not covered on, you can buy it from the rental company just to be safe.

At the very least you should have roadside assistance service. That way, if you do have the misfortune of damaging the rental car, you’re covered for towing. AAA road side assistance offers free towing in most cases which will save you hundreds compared to any towing done by the rental company. If you do have an accident, don’t forget to keep all the paperwork regarding the incident. You may get hit with more charges long after you turn in the car. Along those lines, use that camera in your phone and take plenty of pictures.

Watch out for an arbitration clause that some rental companies include in their contracts. The rental company arbitration process is heavily weighted in their favor, and usually doesn’t allow for meaningful appeals. The good news is you can in most cases opt out of forced arbitration by emailing the corporation within 30 days of renting, saying you reject the provision.

If you’re in doubt about what your insurance covers, ask your agent.