Rental Cars…What Do You Need?

Rental Cars

by Wendy VanHatten

Renting a car can be stressful when you are uncertain about driving conditions, street signs, or driving on the opposite side of the road. Throw in a minor fender-bender, or worse, and the stress level increases. Has that ever happened to you?


Should you buy insurance? Rental-car companies will try to sell you extra insurance via a collision damage waiver (CDW), which will be listed as an additional fee on the forms you sign. Do you really need this and can you decline it? Should you decline it?

Before your trip and before you rent a car, check with your credit card company to see what kind of rental insurance policy is available for cardholders. Most likely, only damage to your own rental will be covered, meaning damages to other cars or injuries to drivers will not be. Some, more elite cards carry better coverage, but not always. You need to check.

Then call your personal auto insurance to see what it includes. If neither of these are enough to make you feel comfortable, you will want to purchase a CDW through your rental agency. These fees can range between $20 and $40 per day, usually. Ask at the time you are renting, so you aren’t surprised when you get to the counter.

If there is an accident, regardless of who is at fault, always get a copy of the police report. And, if you need assistance abroad in the case of a serious accident, the US Embassy can help.

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