Renting a Car? Here Are 5 Tips to Avoid Potential Trouble
Many do not know that when renting a car, you take on additional liability. In fact, even if you have personal auto insurance, you may still be responsible for damages in the unfortunate event of an accident. We asked our insurance experts for tips on avoiding the most common mistakes and pitfalls. Here is what they came up with.
Tip #1. Never allow someone not listed as a driver on the rental agreement to drive the rental car.
Allowing someone else to drive is an absolute no-no. In the unfortunate event of an accident, the rental company will first seek damages from your insurance company. The claim, however, will likely be denied since the actual driver was someone else. In all likelihood, the rental company will then sue you for damages because the contract was in your name. The actual driver will also get tangled in a legal mess with the rental car company and if someone else was injured or vehicle was damaged.
Tip #2. Your personal auto insurance doesn’t apply to commercial vehicles.
Personal auto insurance typically only extends “personal use” vehicles. This means that the 15-passenger commercial van and U-Haul moving truck you rented are not going to be covered. If you’re renting a commercial vehicle, make sure that you purchase the insurance coverage from the rental company.
Tip #3. Your personal auto insurance doesn’t apply to all “personal use” either.
Your personal auto insurance will apply to a rental car if you have collision and comprehensive coverage. If you don’t, make sure to purchase the insurance coverage from the rental company. If you get into an accident and don’t opt for rental insurance, then you are personally liable for the car’s MSRP.
Tip #4. Be super thorough when you do the vehicle walk-around.
Don’t assume that the rental company accounted for all existing damages. Of course you might drive yourself crazy trying to document every single thing wrong with the car, so here’s a good rule of thumb: if any damage is larger than a credit card, you should take note of it before you drive away. Better yet, take photos or videos with your phone in case anything was missed. You’ll be able to refer to them later.
Tip #5. Always add potential drivers, even if there is only a slight chance they will drive.
This is a corollary to the first tip, but it’s important enough to reiterate. Your financial future is at risk when you gamble driving without proper insurance coverage. A few extra bucks could save you tens of thousands of dollars and a lot of legal hassle down the road.
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