A Quick Primer on Car Rental Insurance

You've probably been there before. You're standing at the car rental counter, and the agent is trying to terrify you into purchasing an insurance package that totals more than the rental itself. After all, they're not getting rich off that super $10 a day deal that you snagged through AutoSlash!

Before you dismiss the pitch with a wave though, and initial eight times in the 'DECLINE' section of rental agreement, there are some things you probably should consider to ensure sure you're adequately protected in the event of an accident. Here's a quick guide to covering your bases when renting in the US (policies outside the US vary greatly).

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Rental Companies and Airline Miles

Many rental companies allow you to collect frequent flier miles with a wide array of airline partners, often at the rate of about 50 airline miles per rental day. Hey, free miles are always a good thing, right? But watch out--those miles may not be free.

Most rental agencies are now charging surcharges if you choose to collect frequent flier miles with your rental. These fees, which often range from $0.75 to $1.50 per rental day, are imposed to "offset a portion of the cost of purchasing the miles."

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Car Rental Additional Driver Fees

Additional Driver Image One often-overlooked extra when renting a car is a fee for additional drivers on a car rental contract. Whether you plan on sharing the driving, or you're just looking to have the flexibility for a spouse or fellow traveler to get behind the wheel if needed, adding another driver your rental contract can be quite convenient. However, at $10 and up per day, these charges can add up quickly. Policies and fees vary greatly by company, location and situation though, so it's important to educate yourself beforehand to ensure you don't end up overpaying.

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Beware of Local Resident Restrictions at Airport Locations

Caution Tape

If you're looking for a car in your own backyard--maybe to drive while your car is getting fixed or something bigger with extra room for houseguests--it often pays to check rates at your local airport, too. Sometimes airport rentals can actually be cheaper than in-town rentals, and airport rental office hours are usually much more flexible than those at your neighborhood branch.

But if you live near an airport that you're renting from--typically within 100 miles or within the same state--make sure you keep reading. It turns out that a number of companies have some extra restrictions for locals renting at airport locations if they're not arriving by plane. Unfortunately, these terms and conditions are often buried in fine print that most people don't read, so in the spirit of full disclosure and making sure you don't have an unwelcome surprise at the rental counter, let's take a look at each company's policies individually:

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Atlanta Airport Car Rental Guide (ATL)


City of Atlanta

The Atlanta Airport Consolidated Rental Car Center is located at 2200 Rental Car Center Parkway, Atlanta, GA 30337.

Arriving passengers should pick up their checked luggage at the north or south baggage claim area and follow the overhead signs and hallway placards to the rental car center. Proceed out of the west end of the terminal under the covered walkway. Take the escalator up to the station and board the ATL SkyTrain for the five-minute ride to the rental car center. The wait time between trains during peak times is about three minutes.

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