The pandemic put a pause on most people’s travel plans, either by personal choice or due to COVID restrictions. Now that states are cautiously reopening and easing gathering limitations, people are traveling more frequently.

However, while travelers may be itching to jump in a rental car and go, they can and should follow these tips to protect themselves against costly claims.

  1. Review existing car insurance policies. Individuals with comprehensive, collision and liability coverage may not need supplemental rental car insurance. However, you should identify any limits in your policy, such as no coverage for diminished vehicle value.
  2. Use a credit card with insurance coverage to secure the rental. Many credit card companies offer complimentary coverage for rental cars as a member benefit. Check with your credit card provider to determine if car rental coverage is provided.
  3. Perform a thorough inspection before signing. Once an individual signs for a rental car, he or she can be held responsible for existing damage. Inspecting the vehicle before assuming liability allows individuals to document scratches, dents, or damage (both inside and out). Taking photos and video before you drive off the lot can prevent expensive or erroneous claims.
  4. List all drivers. Individuals going on road trips may want to switch drivers along the way. Make sure all drivers are listed with the rental agency. Though additional fees may result when adding drivers, your liability is greatly reduced.
  5. Reject arbitration provisions and ask about administration fees. Many rental agreements include a forced arbitration agreement, which leaves the customer with limited options for appeals. These private arbitration agreements skew heavily in favor of the rental company, so rejecting them is in your best interest. Some rental companies allow customers to opt-out of forced arbitration. And beware of the administration fees that some rental agencies charge after an accident. These are not covered by many insurance policies and can be costly. For example, as of this writing Hertz charges accident administrative fees. It’s worthwhile to inquire about this prior to your rental.
  6. Perform a thorough inspection upon your return. Inspect the vehicle when you return to help prevent claims and liability. It only takes a minute to take a few photos, both inside and out to contest potential claims about scratches, dents, or damages.

Following these tips can help travelers protect themselves from costly, and sometimes erroneous claims on car rentals.

If your existing insurance policy doesn’t meet your needs, contact an advisor at Windermere. Our top priority is to protect you from the unexpected with the best coverage at affordable rates.