Renting a Car for your Thanksgiving Day Trek to Grandma’s House? E3 Spark Plugs Urges You to Know Your Coverage

Should you pay for that supplemental insurance coverage on your rental car? E3 Spark Plugs tells you how to know if it’s worth it.

If over the hills and through the woods to Grandmother’s house you go in a rental car this Thanksgiving Day, or anytime during the holiday season, we here at E3 Spark Plugs have a word to the wise for you – find out what’s up with rental car insurance coverage before you sign the dotted line and take that set of keys.

No doubt it happens thousands of times a day nationwide – Americans traveling in rental cars decline the auto rental company’s insurance offer, either believing that their credit card or personal insurance policy covers them (with little to no intention on finding out to what extent that hunch is actually correct) or simply wanting to save that extra cash for dining out, seeing the sights or buying that pricey, totally impractical but cool souvenir. After all, what are the odds you’ll actually get into a car crash, right?

Turns out, wrecks in rental cars do happen. After all, you’re typically driving on unfamiliar roadways and, if you’re a Southerner headed across the Mason-Dixon Line or thereabouts, you just may hit some snowy weather and icy roads. Would you know how to avoid or maneuver a slip-&-slide down an iced-over exit ramp? If you’re not covered for what may happen in such a situation, well, your holiday cheer can take a fast and furious nosedive.

To help keep your holiday travel happy, E3 Spark Plugs offers these tips:

  1. If you pay for your rental with a credit card, you may be covered: Assuming you charge the entire amount for your rental on your credit card, you may already have primary or secondary coverage. Be sure to find out which, if either is offered. Primary coverage means that your credit card is the first source for payment of damage to your rental car and likely will cover the full amount. Secondary coverage means you’ll have to go through your personal auto insurance company first and your credit card will pick up the difference in what your insurance company offers and the actual damage costs. Note that credit cards will cover only your rental car, not the other party’s vehicle damage or medical costs.
  2. Your personal auto insurance policy may cover your car and/or the other party’s: Comprehensive and collision damage for your personal car covers costs of theft or damage to your personal car regardless of who is at fault, and that coverage typically extends to your rental car as well. Liability insurance covers damage to the other party’s vehicle and their medical costs up to whatever amount you chose when you purchased your policy. Anything higher you’ll be responsible, as your credit card won’t pick up the difference for liability. And, you both credit card and personal auto insurance policies may involve deductibles.
  3. If you’re not already covered or just not sure, you may want to pay for that supplemental insurance: We certainly understand the temptation to dodge any extra fees you can. After all, those average $20-per-day fees can add up quickly. But even if you are covered by your insurance company, the supplemental coverage from the auto rental shop can make you exempt from having to fork out your personal policy’s deductible.

It’s important to note that any of these three types of coverage may have certain limitations. For instance, credit card coverage may exclude certain types of vehicles like passenger vans. And supplemental coverage from the auto rental shop may last a certain number of days.

In any case, be sure to check out all the possibilities before you head out on the open road. It just may turn out to be something you’ll add to your “thankful” list.