As I have gotten older, I have had the good fortune to take a number of vacations with my wife as well as travel on business where we mix in a couple of extra days stay. On a regular basis, I am renting a vehicle to drive during those trips. This year while in a car rental location in southern California, I was asked by the person behind the desk if I wanted to buy their insurance so I wouldn’t have the hassle of dealing with my own carrier in the event of an accident. I thanked the individual and declined his offer.
Later, while making my way through some miserable traffic, I began to think about coverage issues and whether I was or was not covered under my own policy. In the case of trips where there is some business being done but not exclusively the basis for the trip, prudence would dictate that you review your policy prior to leaving to see if it contains language such as, “Non-owned car does not include… rented car while it is used in connection with insured’s employment or business…”. Policies also sometimes require that the person driving be lawfully in possession. In the past, I had not always paid to have my wife listed on the rental contract and my failure to do so might have resulted in our not being covered if she were to drive the rental vehicle.
Some insurance policies clearly limit your policy, so they do not pay until after the coverage on the car pays. In the event of a significant accident, this could result in a dispute between carriers and may leave the insured stuck in the middle. Anyone who travels and rents cars, but does not choose to buy the coverage, should remember to check with their insurance agent regarding what their coverage is on rental cars. If you are traveling on business and your business has specific limited coverage that applies, you may wish to buy the coverage from the rental car company.