Whether it’s a minor fender bender, a more serious car accident or a complete total loss, being without a car for even a few days can be a major problem for many American drivers. So, it would seem that adding reimbursement for a car rental to your auto insurance policy would be a given. But do you really need car rental coverage on your car insurance? Let’s look at the dollars and cents.

Car rental coverage covers the cost of a rental car when your insured car is in the shop or can’t be driven due to a reason covered under your auto insurance. For most people, those reasons would include damage from an accident, vandalism, fire or theft of the car. In these situations, your auto insurance would cover the cost to rent a car with certain limitations on the daily cost as well as limitations on the number of days per accident or on the overall reimbursement per accident.

For example, many car insurance companies offer rental car coverage for $30 per day for 30 days and $900 per accident. This type of coverage costs about $50 annually on average per car, according to AAA, or about the cost of a two-day car rental.

At first glance, it would seem that spending $50 a year to get up to $900 in rental car costs is a great deal. It is, but only if you actually use the benefit. After all, it’s less likely that your car will be stolen or damaged by fire or vandalism, while the greater risk is that of a car accident. Even then, if the accident is deemed the other driver’s fault, then his insurance should cover the cost of your rental car while your car is repaired or until you replace it if it is totaled. Still, you may have to pay for the car rental yourself and wait to be reimbursed until fault is determined.

If you decide the extra car insurance is worth it, review this coverage in your car insurance policy so you fully understand the limits. Keep in mind that even if you have rental car coverage, you may still pay for part of the car rental if the car you want to rent is more expensive per day than your auto insurance policy allows.

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If you have a car question, email it to us at Driving for Dollars. Read more Driving for Dollars columns and Bankrate auto stories. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.

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