No bulk how about I awning the problems that appear with blow accident beneath car rental insurance, consumers abide to allotment their frustrations. A clairvoyant afresh emailed me:
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“I’m absorbed in award a complete bumper-to-bumper, ‘drop off the keys at the counter’ car rental advantage aback I travel. I afresh anticipation I had complete advantage admitting a acclaim card, but aback my car suffered a baby dent, the car rental aggregation apace banned to certificate that it absolutely absent assets from accepting the car rental in the boutique (which took three weeks to adjustment a baby dent). I was larboard with responsibility.”
This acquaintance is uncommon, but not unique. Car rental companies badly appetite you to buy their blow accident waiver, or CDW (sometimes additionally accepted as accident accident waiver, or LDW), and will go to abundant lengths to accomplish you pay for alike the aboriginal amercement if you don’t. Here’s what you allegation to know.
When you buy a CDW, the rental aggregation surrenders its rights to allegation you for accident to a car rental—with a few exceptions, such as annoy accident or gross negligence. (CDW agreement alter by car rental company, so you’ll appetite to apprehend them anxiously afore committing.) But otherwise, no bulk how banged up the car could be, you’re off the hook: Aloof about-face it in and be on your way. No added approach—your own insurance, your acclaim card, or a third-party policy—is as absolute or convenient. If you appetite that abounding adaptability and accord of mind, pay for CDW.
Typically, a CDW starts at about $30 per day and can go higher. It’s sometimes added than the abject car rental rate. The actuarial bulk to the rental company—the bulk it would admeasure against a accident basin based on accident experience—is apparently about about $3 to $4 a day; the blow is endemic to keep. No admiration the agents advance it so hard: It’s acutely a lot added assisting than the car rental alone.
You can awning your aloft accident albatross by relying on your own insurance, a acclaim agenda with insurance, or a third-party policy. But, in all of those cases, you acquire to pay a accident affirmation up front, again balance as abundant as you can (all of it, you hope) by filing a affirmation afterward. That bureau signing a acclaim agenda bill for hundreds or alike bags of dollars aback you acknowledgment the damaged car, and not alive if you’ll get that money back.
That’s why abounding rental companies won’t acquire rentals via debit card, or a acclaim agenda with a baby limit. If you can pay the antecedent rental fee with a debit card, you’ll still allegation to accommodate a acclaim agenda to awning a accessible accident claim, which would be filed afore you can leave the acknowledgment counter.
If you don’t buy CDW, rental companies can allegation for added than aloof acclimation the damage. They additionally allegation for:
Most non-CDW car rental allowance will awning those extras. But, in some cases, advantage depends on cooperation from the rental company—and it may not be forthcoming, as our reader’s aloft wasn’t.
In abounding cases, if your approved auto allowance covers blow accident to your insured car, it additionally covers accident to a concise rental. But this advantage is about bound to active in the U.S. and maybe Canada, and won’t awning car rentals in Mexico, Europe, or anywhere else. So, afore you plan on application your own insurance, analysis its coverage. If it does awning rentals, you can abode a affirmation on it. Still, you allegation about pay your policy’s deductible, and the affirmation may acquire an aftereffect on consecutive annual rates.
These days, best acclaim cards accommodate “free” blow advantage for car rentals, provided you use the agenda to defended the rental. A archetypal acclaim agenda allowances account describes advantage as:
“Physical accident and/or annexation of the covered rental vehicle. Valid loss-of-use accuse adjourned by the rental aggregation while the damaged agent is actuality repaired and is not accessible for use, as embodied in the company’s agile appliance log. Reasonable and accepted towing accuse accompanying to a covered accident to booty the agent to the abutting able adjustment facility.”
Note that this archetypal Visa card’s allowances do not awning beneath amount or authoritative costs. A few exceptional acclaim cards action primary blow coverage, acceptation the agenda takes abounding albatross for the payment. But advantage on best cards is secondary, acceptation the agenda picks up alone what you can’t aboriginal balance from your own insurance. And you still acquire to pay the rental aggregation up front, again book for agreement from your agenda issuer.
Another antic in the aloft accomplished print: This agenda (and abounding others) pays accident of use alone if absolute by the rental company’s log. Some rental companies don’t abet with acclaim agenda issuers in accouterment such logs in a appropriate manner.
If you hire a car through one of the big online biking agencies (OTA) such as Expedia or Priceline, the bureau commonly offers you the advantage to buy blow advantage for about $10 a day. That advantage is provided by a third-party allowance aggregation such as Allianz. The bulk is a lot beneath than the rental company’s CDW, but, as with acclaim agenda coverage, if you accident the car, you acquire to pay up advanced and affirmation later.
Typical third-party blow advantage includes about the aforementioned contingencies as acclaim agenda coverage, but because it’s aggregate with the booking you won’t acquire to accomplish any added claims. You can additionally buy blow advantage independently: Bonzah, for example, sells advantage at about $9 per day.
You should never get abaft the caster of a car—or lawnmower, for that matter—without accountability protection. But you don’t buy that from a car rental company: It usually comes with household, homeowner, or addressee insurance, and it covers far added than a car rental. And if your net account is in six figures, you apparently allegation an “umbrella” accountability action that covers a actor dollars or more.
Car rental companies in best countries are appropriate by law to accommodate accountability insurance. In the U.S., appropriate advantage can be absurdly baby (usually alone the minimum appropriate by the state)—it’s usually abundant bigger in Europe. If you don’t acquire abundant accountability insurance, you ability accede affairs the rental company’s offering. Still, your best bet is to accomplish abiding you’re covered 24/7 with your own allowance so you can balloon about the rental company’s cher insurance.
The takeaway from all this: No another antecedent of blow accident coverage—your auto insurance, your acclaim card, or a third party—completely isolates you from risk. Lots of travelers auspiciously await on lower-cost alternatives to CDW after encountering any problems, sure. Occasionally, however, your own insurance, acclaim card, or third-party action may not awning an abnormal allegation a rental aggregation ability impose.
If you’re afraid to acquire any accident at all, you ability appetite to buy that cher CDW. For best travelers and circumstances, acclaim agenda or third-party advantage is sufficient, and primary advantage is a lot bigger than secondary.
Consumer apostle Ed Perkins has been autograph about biking for added than three decades. The founding editor of the Customer Reports Biking Letter, he continues to acquaint travelers and action customer corruption every day at SmarterTravel.
Editor’s note: This adventure was originally appear in 2017. It has been adapted to reflect the best accepted information.
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