Rental Car Insurance: To Buy or Not to Buy?

Picture this: you’re visiting the family in another state for the holidays. After a long, less-than-comfortable flight you make a beeline for the rental counter to get some wheels. Within a few minutes, it seems like you’re good to go — but then the rental agent asks, “Would you like to buy rental car insurance?”

And all you can think is, “Do I?”

With Thanksgiving and the holidays just around the corner, we thought it would be the perfect time to answer this all-important question once and for all.

Know your coverage to see if you need rental car insurance

Knowing how to answer the rep at the rental agency is all about knowing the answer to an entirely different question: “What insurance do I already have?”

The fact is, for most people, insurance purchased from the rental company is unnecessary. Why? Because if you have car insurance, you likely already have all the coverage you need.

The following standard coverages will continue to protect you while you’re driving a rental:

  • Bodily injury and property damage liability
  • Comprehensive
  • Collision

Note that the existing limits on your liability coverages and the deductibles on your comprehensive and collision policies will still apply. Your comprehensive and collision coverages will pay up to the actual cash value (current market value) of the rental vehicle for repairs or replacement.

Sounds good, you might say, but what if someone steals my stuff from the rental? No worries: your existing homeowners insurance or renters insurance will, much like your car insurance, continue to protect you when behind the wheel of a rental.

Business travelers, beware

There’s another caveat, though: if you’re renting a car for business rather than personal use, there’s a chance that your personal car insurance coverage won’t protect you. If you’re just commuting to and from work or some work-related event, your personal policy should be sufficient. But if you’ll be transporting products or work-related equipment, you’ll want to check with your insurance company to be certain you’re covered.

Give your credit card company a ring

Another thing you may not know is that your credit card company might offer additional rental coverage as well. So before you fork over extra money for insurance, give your credit card company a call.

How a rental car claim could affect your premium

Keep in mind that if you have to file a claim to cover the cost of an incident in your rental car, that may affect your policy premium in the future. Thus, the advantage of buying the rental agency’s coverage is that you’ll be able to use it instead of your own coverage, thereby avoiding the need to file a claim on your personal policy. Plus you avoid needing to front your deductible.

Want to know more about rental car coverage?

Our myth-busting article on rental car coverage provides in-depth info on what coverages most rental agencies offer, why you might or might not need them, and what your existing insurance policies may offer when you’re behind the wheel of a rental.

Veterans Day: 11/11/11

November 11 marks the anniversary of the end of World War I and was first proclaimed Armistice Day in 1919. Somewhat fortuitously, the end of the war occurred the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, when Germany signed the Armistice. In 1954, Congress changed the name to Veterans Day to honor all veterans.

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. –John F. Kennedy

Today (and every other day) we live our gratitude and express our appreciation to all who have served our country.

Drowsy Driving Prevention: 6 Tips for the Road

Sometimes, it seems like 24 hours isn’t enough time to get all the things we need to do done. Between working, working, making time for family and friends, and working, it’s easy to scrimp on sleep.

While one less hour of sleep might seem relatively innocuous, sleep deprivation can lead to a host of problems, not the least of which is drowsy driving.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates (conservatively) that drowsy driving results in about 100,000 car accidents and $12.5 billion in losses each year. And as if that’s not enough, a recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 16.5 percent of fatal crashes involved a tired driver.

What’s more, sleep deprivation can cause microsleeps, brief sleep episodes lasting a few seconds. If you’re in a meeting, a little shuteye will only result in a few snickers and some embarrassment on your part. Microsleeping behind the wheel, on the other hand, could quite possibly mean the difference between life and death (or at least an accident or not).

In honor of Drowsy Driving Prevention Week®, here are some tips from the National Sleep Foundation to help you stay alert behind the wheel.

Before hitting the road

  • Get your safety sleep. The average person needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep to function optimally. Getting 6 or less hours of sleep triples your risk for drowsy driving. So before long trips, or anysure you’re caught up on your Zs.
  • Get a copilot. Not only will your drive be more enjoyable with a buddy or 3, passengers can look for warning signs of fatigue (like lane drifting) and can also help with driving when needed. Plus, during those unending stretches of highway when the only things of interest are a few lone trees and slow moving cattle, stimulating conversation could keep you engaged and alert.
  • Don’t imbibe. Sure, everyone knows that when you mix drinking and driving, you get a risky (and expensive) cocktail. But did you know that alcohol, even just a tiny bit, can increase the effects of fatigue? Practice safe driving: don’t drink, drive, and drowse.

While on the road

  • Schedule regular stops. Plan on stopping every 100 miles or 2 hours to give yourself a break and freshen up.
  • Take a 15-minute nap. If you’re feeling drowsy, or find it hard to focus or stay in your lane, pull over to a safe spot and snooze for 15 minutes.
  • Caffeinate. Yeah, it works. Experts recommend drinking the equivalent of 2 cups of coffee to keep awake. Just remember that it takes about 30 minutes for caffeine to enter your bloodstream and work its magic.

This week and every week, make sure you catch your 40 winks and then some. Not only will you feel more refreshed in the morning, you’ll stay safer on the roads as well.

Related links

Driving at night and drowsy driving go hand and hand
Drowsy driving app
Drowsy driving and automobile crashes

6 Must-Haves for the Perfect Tailgate

Are you ready for some tailgating? That’s right. It’s football season once again and the perfect time of year to grab the barby, load up the truck, and head out to a game. If you’re a college ball fanatic or an NFL junkie, you probably already know a thing or 2 about throwing the perfect tailgate party. But if you happen to be a rookie, we put together a few tips to help you out with the fundamentals of this time-honored tradition.

1. Vehicle

The ultimate tailgating vehicle is a truck or a van, something with a back or side door. Show your spirit by investing in some car flags, a license plate frame, or magnetic emblems from your favorite team. And don’t skimp on the maintenance (like oil changes, checking fluid levels, and tire pressure). You don’t want to miss the big game just because you had a flat tire.

2. Foods and drinks

This is probably the single most important item. It’s also what your friends will want to know about. Food can be anything you like, but finger foods work best (leaving you a free hand with which to hold your beverage).

Some classic tailgate foods are brats, burgers, dogs, ribs, chili, dip (guacamole is always a favorite), cookies, brownies, and cake, but you can find almost anything imaginable if you stroll around the parking lot. Sautéed shrimp and deep-fried catfish, anyone?

And it’s hardly a party without beer, wine, or the makings of your favorite cocktail. But be sure to choose a designated driver beforehand, drink responsibly, and bring nonalcoholic beverages along for the kids and driver. And, of course, a cooler with plenty of ice.

3. Supplies

Not sure about what you’ll need? A quick list includes matches, plates, napkins, cups, plastic utensils, foil and plastic bags, garbage bags, paper towels, hand sanitizer, and condiments. Now, of course, there are those who go all out and use real knives, forks, dishes, and linens, but that’s your call.

4. Tools

The grill can be anything from a tabletop to a big standup charcoal grill or one that attaches to the trailer hitch of your truck. Whatever type of grill you have, don’t forget fuel (propane or charcoal depending on your grill).

You’ll also need cooking tools: a sharp knife, spatula, tongs, maybe a wooden spoon, serving spoons, and a cutting board. Don’t forget the corkscrew or bottle opener (or both).

5. Entertainment

To keep the pre-game party jumping, pack a flat screen TV (just kidding, but yes, we’ve seen it), music player with speakers, and a football or bean bags for tossing. The important thing is to choose whatever fits your style.

6. Comfort

Bring stacking resin or folding camp chairs (preferably with cupholders), a pop-up tent (to protect against sun or rain), and folding card tables.

So there you have it. Check online to find out when your local stadium opens and make sure you know the rules. Call your friends and agree on how to meet up. Maybe you want to caravan to the park so you know you have enough adjoining spots.

The bottom line: get your game gear on, your supplies packed, and head on out. And don’t forget to enjoy the game!

Tailgating pro? Tell us your tips.

Related link

Accessorize with the finest items from your favorite team.

Expert Insurance Advice (No Consultation Fees)

If you have a plumbing question, you see a plumber, right? With questions about the law, you talk to a lawyer. And if you have insurance questions, come straight to Esurance. Right?

In a world saturated with (mis)information, it can be surprisingly difficult to find the answers you need. We get that. But when it comes to insurance — and car insurance especially — we’ve worked hard to fix the problem.

You see … at Esurance, we’ve got experts galore and, collectively, more industry expertise than you can shake a stick at. So when it dawned on us, “Hey, why not make life easier for everyone by putting all that knowledge to good use,” that’s exactly what we did.

Where to get expert insurance advice

So, if you’re looking for expert advice and information on gap insurance, rental car coverage, or 100 other insurance-y topics, you’ve come to the right place. Or rather, if you visit our insurance resources page, you’ll be in the right place.

Check it out for all the insurance- and driver-related info you’ll (likely) ever need. Stay as long as you want and get answers to all your questions. We’ll never send you a bill or charge a consultation fee (unlike some experts). Insurance expertise is always on the house at Esurance.

Related links

Car insurance myths
Insurance learning center
Car insurance tips for your state
Auto insurance glossary