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Does my credit card give me car rental insurance?

Some credit cards provide car rental insurance, and your own car insurance policy may cover you for rentals as well. When should you buy the insurance rental companies offer you? 

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    Should you pay for the optional insurance offered by rental car companies or rely on your credit card for rental insurance?
    Tim Roske
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With the summer travel season fast approaching, we know many of you will be hopping in your cars to enjoy the national parks, take a tour of our nation's many great cities, or at least to see friends and family. A question I often get from readers and friends is, "Does my credit card give me rental insurance?" Well, here's your answer!

Check the Fine Print

If you rent a car and have your own personal insurance, that insurance will likely cover collision and theft coverage. Whether or not you'd like your insurance to find out about this, though, is your call. Purchasing the add-on at time of rental prevents your own insurance from going up when you rent a car and have an accident (plus, you're off the hook for the deductible).

So, if you thought your card provided you with personal insurance, check the fine print. The cards that offer primary insurance while renting a car includes the the United Mileage Plus Explorer, United MileagePlus Club, Fairmont Visa Signature, Discover Escape, Ritz Carlton Visa Signature and the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. American Express cards can add the perk for $24.95 per rental.

Again, Check the Fine Print

There's a maximum amount of coverage that credit cards provide. This is important for longer-term rentals. Amex is 30 days (42 days in the premium program). Chase is 31 days for World and World Elite (14 days for other types), Discover is 31 days, and Visa is 15 days in the USA. Also, if you're renting luxury cars, your card most likely won't cover it. Many countries aren't covered as well. Check the fine print!!

Should I Get the Rental Company's Insurance?

It seems to me that all the fine print and red tape, coupled with the potential for being on the hook for damages anyway, makes it easier to just take the rental company's insurance when you rent a car. But if you're a risk taker (or a lawyer), and have one of the cards mentioned, go for it!

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best personal finance bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.

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