Avoid rental-car insurance redundancy

Accepting the collision damage waiver (CDW) offered by rental-car agents can add an average of $15 per day to your daily rental rate.

Before signing up, check to see if rental cars are already covered under your personal car-insurance policy. And take a close look at your credit cards.

Some credit-card companies provide rental-car insurance when you use their card. The coverage varies widely. Find out if it is primary or secondary. Primary coverage means the card pays - after you've met your deductible - before other insurers pay. Secondary coverage pays what's left after other insurers settle.

A good primary-coverage card is Diners Club. You get 100 percent coverage whenever you rent a car with their card. Other credit cards may provide primary coverage for their highest card levels, or their business-card holders, but typically, their coverage is secondary.

Note, though, that credit-card rental-car insurance is generally only valid if you use that card to rent the car, and if you decline the CDW. Make a few telephone calls before renting a car. Understand exactly what coverage you already have, get details about how your deductible is affected, and then drive away with peace of mind.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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