So far, our rental car blog series has covered the details of safe rental car selections, and affordable and crash-tested options on the lot. Now, let’s cover the fine print of rental cars.

Arming yourself with knowledge before picking a rental car can make the difference between a tranquil vacation and a terrible accident.

With spring break in full swing and a burgeoning increase in business travel on the rise, you may find yourself at the car rental kiosk for any number of reasons. But before you get there, it is important to read your contract, understand what it means ahead of time, and research your own auto insurance policy and find out what may and may not be covered in the event of a car accident.

Rental Car Insurance: Do you really need it?

Let’s say you’re renting a car for a business trip, and you have a few days to plan ahead. You take a look at the rental car company’s website and find a list of available rentals along with multiple insurance add-ons: Collision Damage Waiver, Loss Damage Waiver, Personal Effects Coverage, Liability Insurance Supplement and so forth. How do you know which of these you might need?

Some rental insurance options (such as the Collision Damage Waiver, or CDW) may offer significant coverage not included in many standard auto insurance policies, according to AOL News, but others may find they don’t need it at all.

For example, a standard policy may not include coverage to support rental payments in the event of an accident while a damaged vehicle is undergoing repair. Without the appropriate added coverage, individuals could suddenly find themselves paying upwards of $50 per day or more depending on your individual car insurance policy. Others may find this insurance is not necessary at all since rental reimbursement is already included in their own policy.

Moral of the story?

It pays to research your own insurance policy details before blithely skipping or adding insurance add-ons at the rental kiosk. When it comes to rental cars insurance, planning is your best investment.

A pre- and post-rental checklist

Knowing your current auto-insurance coverage areas can help bring the daunting list of rental car insurance options into focus. But before signing a rental contract, take the following steps to clarify your coverage. And most of all, pre-plan and ask questions, both to your own insurance agent, and at the rental kiosk.

Pre-rental Checklist

  • Select a rental car ahead of time, and have the contract sent to you early via mail.
  • Take a look at the rental paperwork and address questions with your own agent and the rental car company before you sign.
  • Contact your insurance company with the contract details to confirm coverage. Forward the contract to your agent and include the make, model and year of the vehicle you plan to rent.
  • Remember to ask about out-of-state or out-of-country coverage limitations.
  • If your selection is covered, ask an insurance agent to show you where in your policy the precise coverage is written.
  • Find out whether or not your credit card company offers any insurance policies with rental purchase.

Post-rental Checklist

Once you’ve signed the rental agreement, take these additional steps to maintain the coverage you’ve worked hard to ensure:

  • Keep the rental contract on file. Exercise due diligence to avoid confusion in the event of an accident.
  • Make sure that only the person or persons named in the rental contract are driving the vehicle.
  • Read the fine print: consider age limitations and spouse allowances when designating drivers in a rented car

Exercise even greater care, vigilance, and defensive driving practices than you do in your own car. Unfamiliar vehicles and new driving environments can contribute to car accidents, so be sure to review directions ahead of time, follow posted speed limits, and drive with extra caution.

Following these tips will help you prevent a frightening and stressful injury car accident while driving a rental car.

Accident in a rental car: A free legal consultation is available

If you are hit or injured while driving a rented vehicle, contact Pines Salomon Injury Lawyers, APC. for a free legal consultation.  The legal review is confidential and our dedicated team of San Diego personal injury attorneys will help you navigate the details of your claim. There are no out-of-pocket fees required to start your claim at The Pines Salomon Injury Lawyers, APC.. Call 1-858-551-2090 or contact us online now.