Car Rental Insurance

Personal Accident Insurance (PAI): Expensive but Limited Coverage that Doesn't Help Much in an Accident

Personal Accident Insurance

The rental car industry is proficient in creating insurance coverage options few renters should purchase but with some sense of importance in the title. One of those options is Personal Accident Insurance (PAI) which is often paired with the Personal Effects Coverage (PEC) we've addressed previously. At the most basic level, Personal Accident Insurance covers the occupants of the rental car in case of vehicular accidents, whether those result in injury or fatality. Like other forms of insurance offered by the rental car companies, it's expensive, the terms and conditions limit the actual coverage, and it's primarily just a profit center for the rental car company. Most renters discover that the insurance offering also happens to be entirely duplicative of coverage held elsewhere!

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What Happens if my Rental Car is Vandalized and My Possessions Stolen?

Car Vandalized

San Francisco gives the AutoSlash blog so much material; the city provides gifts no one wants! The airport has the honor of the highest in the nation taxes/fees on free rental days. The City and County decided to sue a rental car company because of decisions made by government agencies. Given rampant theft from cars (rentals and non-rental alike), the police decided to eliminate the task force addressing the issue. Even human remains get stolen from rental cars in San Francisco! Then the government decided to level additional restrictions on rental car companies because the government can't slow the pace of theft from all cars. And thefts from cars are still increasing to the point that has become a major policy point in upcoming elections and residents don't even report thefts anymore! Even the AutoSlash team doesn't rent cars in San Francisco. But here's a hypothetical -- what if our brain temporarily went missing and we decided to rent a car in San Francisco, then were shocked (shocked we say) to discover that our vehicle was vandalized and our possessions were stolen. What are the implications for a renter? The answer has two parts -- the possessions lost and payments that would be due to the rental car company.

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Rental Damaged in an Accident by a Third-Party? The Renter May be Responsible for the Claim

Hit and Run

One of the pervasive fears among our team has been another party damaging one of our rental cars. We're conscientious drivers, tend to park remotely, and even have off-street parking available in most places we drive. That's all because we know one hard truth about rental cars -- when a renter signs a contract to give a company a few dollars to borrow a very expensive asset, the renter is responsible for returning the vehicle in effectively the exact same condition. The rental car company doesn't care about the source of any damage. So just what happens if someone else damages our car during a rental?

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Renting a Car in California? Watch Out for this Insurance Gotcha.


We speak about many of the considerations of insurance in our Primer on Rental Car Insurance. Yet many renters who don't read insurance policies and terms every day forget that personal automobile policies are a common part of the rental car coverage equation. Most renters know that many credit cards provide secondary damage protection if there's an incident with the rental car; when a credit card provides secondary coverage, the driver's own policy is the primary. And those damage waivers only cover the rental car - cause an accident and harm other individuals and property, and the potential liability is huge. And many renters would be surprised to learn liability coverage isn't included on rentals in California, which makes personal insurance policies even more important.

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A Hurricane of a Billing Issue—But Budget Steps Up

Hurricane Irma

Despite being car enthusiasts and avid road trippers, we at AutoSlash are most definitely not always fans of the rental car industry. It's replete with shady business practices, overly aggressive salespeople, and a lack of transparency (although some—National—are a little higher up on the scale than others—Payless), and we have no problem calling out problems when we find them.

Between that and our relentless pursuit of helping people get the lowest possible rate on their rental car, you can believe that we aren't exactly best friends with the rental companies.

But we're also fair, and when a company steps up and does the right thing, we want to give credit where credit is due. This time, it's a personal experience.

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