Hope for your financial life and beyond

Should I Ever Get Rental Car Insurance?

The first time I ever rented a car I was unprepared for a very specific question. The agent behind the counter asked “Would you like to purchase rental car insurance?”

“I don’t know,” I thought, standing there with the deer-in-the-headlights look. My only thought was getting behind the wheel of the convertible I’d reserved.

So I listened to the spiel and bought the rental car insurance. A few minutes later I’m top down and cruising around Saint Croix with my new bride.

rental car insuranceI realized later my decision had been a small financial mistake.

There is no question you need insurance to drive. According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, every state requires motorists to carry a minimum level of auto insurance coverage (or the equivalent in financial responsibility waivers). Such coverage is necessary to protect against damage to property or injuries to people caused by an accident.

But if you own a car, your rental car may already be covered. Once you realize the rules and what your own auto insurance policy covers, you will be able to answer the “Should I get rental car insurance” question with confidence.

To do so, you must prepare in advance by doing two things:

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Buyer Beware: Renting a Car With a Debit Card

My wife and I have chosen to be debt free and live without the use of credit cards. 99% of the time we have no issues when it comes to purchases. We simply swipe our debit card or pay with cash when making a transaction. The one instance where we’ve had difficulty is when we are renting a car with a debit card.

We’ve run into trouble twice with this and in both cases it nearly had us stuck. The most recent time, on our vacation to Yellowstone a few weeks ago, nearly cost us our trip.

My wife is an incredible trip planner. She can research and organize a trip with such precision I hardly have to pay attention. The most I end up doing in the trip-planning phase is giving minor advice and approval to her vacation to-do requests.

So when the chance came to save $700 on our rental car for the week that was a no-brainer. “Heck, yeah” I said. “Book that!”

My wife is member of the AICPA (the American Institute of  CPAs). As a member she is entitled to discounts with companies with whom the AICPA has an affiliation. One such company is Hertz.

She did all the fine-print reading ahead of time and found out Hertz does accept debit cards for rental car purchases. The one caveat is they require a credit check before releasing the car. That should have raised a red flag for us but we just missed it. (Our credit is of course shot because we don’t use credit anymore.)

So we booked a minivan with Hertz two months prior to leaving and didn’t give it another thought.

Renting a Car With a Debit Card: A Nightmare Scenario

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