auto

Rental car insurance: Questions to ask your credit card company

When you call your credit card company, be sure to give them your account number so that they can check the benefits attached to your specific account. The same credit card, issued by the same bank, might have different benefits -- and you want to make sure you are talking about benefits that are available to you. At the end of your conversation, get everything in writing. The company can fax or send a copy of the policy to you.

  • If you use the credit card to rent a car, what kind of insurance will the company offer? Do they offer collision and liability?
  • How much collision coverage do they offer? Would it cover the vehicle you are planning to rent? Is there a deductible? What are the exceptions? Many companies will not cover "exotic" cars -- and the definition of exotic will vary. Give them a specific make and model.
  • How much liability do they offer? What is the deductible? What are the exceptions?
  • Under what circumstances could they refuse to pay in the event of an accident? Some companies will refuse to cover the accident if the driver was doing something stupid -- driving the wrong way down the street, driving drunk. Will the company pay if you have an accident and you are found to be at fault?
  • Will the offer be valid through the entire length of the trip? Since credit card benefits change quickly, you want to make sure your trip will be covered. Don't tell anyone the exact dates you'll be out of town, but ask if the coverage is valid now and would extend through the end of the year. Also, if you think you'll be using the insurance policy from your credit card, make sure the bill is paid before you leave home.
  • Will the coverage still be in force if you drive into another country? If so, is there a time limit? Credit cards may elect not to provide coverage in a foreign country or to limit the number of days you can drive there.
  • If you purchase collision insurance from the rental car company, will that invalidate your credit card policy? For many credit card companies, the answer will be yes. What about liability insurance? Sometimes, if the credit company does not provide liability insurance, they will let you purchase that without penalty.
  • Does the company provide any medical insurance? If you need this, find out what is covered.
  • Who would be covered to drive the car? Just the credit card holder? Anyone in the household? What about friends or children living apart from you?
  • Does the credit card company provide for any roadside coverage?
  • How do you report an accident? Who do you report it to and what happens next? Get a name and a phone number. If you have an accident, call your personal insurance agent at home and report the incident. If the worst happens and the credit card company does not pay, you'll still be eligible for coverage under your own auto policy.

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