Thursday, 23 August 2007

For all those who are somewhat new to car rentals...

Since I am taking a road trip soon, I went online to do a bit of rental car research.  The car prices themselves were pretty much within my expectation but man, the insurance and underage fee in Toronto is expensive!  It can't be helped though.

The thing that was most confusing to me was auto insurance.  How can I be legally covered and what does that include?  It took me a few phone calls and research to understand.  Here it is:

In Toronto it is required for every vehicle to have third party liability.  That means when you get into an accident and it's your fault you can pay the other party.  There's full insurance as well, which covers your own loss in an accident.  The third party liability insurance, since it's required in Ontario, is included in your rental car price.  (at least that's the case with Hertz and I'm pretty sure for every car rental place)

If you want to get more coverage, here are some options:

  1. Insurance from the rental company: this covers your rental car and if you get into an accident, don't worry, it won't show on your record so your personal auto insurance won't increase, even if it's your fault.  You can just walk away from the accident without having to pay anything extra.  (Well, you kinda paid extra for this insurance beforehand...)  This is the most hassle free option.  You just call the rental car company, and if you rented from a large rental company that has a branch where you are, they might just give you a new car and you're good to go within hours,
  2. Insurance from your credit card: if you have a platnum or gold card, you probably have rental auto insurance on it.  Every credit card has a different coverage so make sure you know what is covered.  If an accident happens, it'll be on a record somewhere, but the chances of it showing up to increase your insurance is not very high.  You will have to report to the credit card company and the rental company.  It's a little bit messier but not very bad.
  3. Extension of your personal auto insurance to cover rental insurance: if your personal insurance policy covers rental then you can just use it to rent a car.  Don't have to buy any insurance.  But, when you get into an accident it'll be on your record and your insurance would increase.  There's another catch - depending on where you are and the local laws, taking this option may be a big pain.  For example, if your insurance is for Toronto, although it may cover you for rental insurance anywhere in North America, when an accident happens, you might need to come back to Toronto to sort things out.  You should ask your agent about these things.

I usually just go with option 2 since it's the cheapest and decreases my chance of leaving a record for any accident, should any occur.

I'm somewhat new to this insurance thing as well so feel free to correct me.

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