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Renting a car - what to know about rental car insurance.

We just had someone ask, so we thought we should try and answer as many questions as possible about rental car insurance.

Properly insuring a rental car can be confusing and frustrating. So many consumers do not even think about rental car insurance until they get to the counter and can end up either wasting money by purchasing unnecessary coverage or having dangerous gaps in coverage.

The Insurance Information Institute suggests that you make two phone calls before you rent a vehicle - one to your insurance professional and another to the credit card company you will be using to pay for the rental car.

Here is what to find out from your insurance company:
How much coverage you currently have on your own car? In most cases, whatever coverage and deductibles you have on your own car would apply when you rent a car, providing you are using the car for recreation and not for business.

IMPORTANT: If you have dropped either comprehensive or collision on your own car as a way to reduce costs, you will not be covered if your rental car is stolen or damaged in an accident.

Check to see whether your insurance company pays for administrative fees, loss of use or towing charges. Some companies may provide an insurance rider to cover some of these costs, which would make it less expensive than purchasing coverage through the rental car company. Keep in mind, however, that in most states diminished value is not covered by insurers.

Here is what to find out from your credit card company:
Insurance benefits offered by credit card companies differ by both the company and/or the bank that issues the card.

Credit cards usually cover only damage to or loss of the rented vehicle, not for other cars, personal belongings or the property of others. There may be no personal liability coverage for bodily injury or death claims.

Some credit card companies will provide coverage for towing, but many may not provide for diminished value or administrative fees. Some credit card companies have changed their policies, too, so you may not have as much coverage as you thought.

To know exactly what type of insurance you have, call the toll-free number on the back of the card you will be using to rent the car. If you are depending on a credit card for insurance protection, ask the credit card company or bank to send you their coverage information in writing. In most cases, credit card benefits are secondary to either your personal insurance protection or the insurance offered by the rental car company.

If you have more than one credit card, consider calling each one to see which offers the best insurance protection.