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Dear Driving for Dollars,
I drive a really old car that is worth very little, so I only have the bare minimum of car insurance coverage. This means when I rent a car, I need to purchase car rental insurance. I’ve noticed recently that some car rental companies charge a lot for car rental insurance, or they offer basic coverage that doesn’t cover much and has lots of “optional” insurance coverage that raises the cost. Is there another choice that is more affordable?
— John S.

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Dear John,
Car rental insurance is a smart financial investment for some renters. You’ve done your homework in determining that purchasing this insurance is right for you.

It is possible to get insurance coverage that is cheaper than what you would purchase at the rental car counter. First, check with your credit card company to see what it offers. Many credit card companies offer rental car coverage for free if you pay for the car using that credit card, so that would be your least expensive option.

Keep in mind, the coverage that credit card companies offer is usually secondary to your auto policy, and there can be limitations and requirements. Carefully research this option to see if the coverage would be adequate for you.

You could also use a third-party insurer. These companies, such as TravelGuard.com and ProtectMyBubble.com, generally are primary insurers — meaning your regular auto insurance isn’t involved at all if there is a claim (though certain accidents may get reported to them, particularly if you are at fault, and your driving record could be affected). Coverage from these companies generally costs less than $10 a day, with zero or a low deductible that provides coverage for damage or theft for cars valued at up to $35,000. You can find third-party auto insurance companies online by doing a search on “rental car insurance.”

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