To err is human, to forgive divine. However, to avoid making a mistake in the first place is the most supreme. There's no question that it's very easy to make a foolish decision when dealing with something new. There are 100 ways to do things wrong for every one way to do things right. Most people make these common mistakes when delving into the world of rental car insurance. In fact, car rental insurance companies count on novices making these mistakes to make them more money.
Luckily, it's possible to cheat the system. You don't have to learn from your mistakes. You can learn from everyone else's. Read on to find out the usual blunders made by travelers when getting car rental insurance. Avoiding them will save you everything from money to headaches and the occasional "I told you so" s. Here is a list of the five most frequently made mistakes and how you can steer clear.
Overkill can be a killer
Balance is important. While having too little or no car rental insurance coverage is foolhardy, the opposite also stands true. It's essential to keep your wits about you when selecting a car rental insurance policy. Carefully go through the coverage provided. Sometimes, less is better. Buying personal accident insurance that insures you against personal injury- which is probably covered by your primary health insurance- is a waste of money.
Chances are you have some overlapping coverage. A variety of auto insurance policies cover car rental insurance as well. Additionally, some credit card companies also have car rental insurance coverage as a benefit. The best thing you can do is double check your existing health, auto, and other insurance policies. Only get what you need, nothing more and nothing else.
Keep your eyes on the prize
Hint: the car isn't the prize. When you go on vacation, it'll be tempting to rent the fanciest car available. After all, who doesn't want to travel in style? Unfortunately, that comes with its own set of considerations. Specific policies don't cover some cars with particular makes or models. An oversight, coupled with bad luck, could lead to an accident that would have your wallet a few thousand dollars lighter.
Don't forget that the rental car is only a means of travel (probably) and not the trip's actual purpose. Renting expensive, luxury or sports cars will most likely lead to a pricier insurance policy. As a rule of thumb, the insurance premium proportionally increases with the price of the car. Instead of wasting money on a flashy set of wheels, try to get a compact and cheap car that is still comfortable.
The airport is for planes, not for rental cars
Becoming the stereotypical example of the oblivious tourist is not high on anyone's list. The savvy traveler knows that there's an inverse relationship between prices and distance from the airport. The same is true for rental cars. "Airport surcharge" is the additional fee you pay to pick and drop your rental car off at the airport. Simply put, it's a ripoff.
Car rental insurance companies bank off providing comfort to customers. However, this comfort isn't worth the discomfort of overspending on airport surcharge. Even the cost of the car rented from the airport is higher. These fees can sneak up on you when paying for your car rental insurance policy. A simple hack is to use public transport and rent a car from a company situated further away from the airport. You'll save a ton, and no one will ever think of you as a clueless tourist.
Get your head in the game
Car rental insurance may not seem like a high-stakes game, but it is. Therefore, you must make the best decisions during the play to win. The person looking out for your best interest is you, not the rental or the insurance company. They all have personal motivations and goals behind service and product placement.
You have to be smart and judge for yourselves. Do your research on the best prices from car rental insurance companies. Compare and get a rental car and policy specific to your circumstances- preferably before you arrive at your destination. Find out the types of insurance and coverage, which one you already have, which one is unnecessary, and tailor-make your insurance plan. Try to find the perfect balance of premium and deductible. These are all things you should plan for, not worry about when it's too late.
Look into third-party rental insurance since it's often much cheaper with equally great coverage. However, don't be duped into letting your guard down and purchasing from a shady site. Only buy from reputable or well-rated sites. The key is research. You don't need to be a Snowden level hacker to avoid making rookie mistakes, just well-researched.
Time is relative. Money is not
Being on the same page as your car rental insurance policy is essential. You don't want to end up losing money over miscommunication. Rental car companies mostly sell insurance based on a 24-hour clock basis. This means that you'll pay one whole day of rent only when 24 hours are up. On the other hand, third-party insurance providers often sell policies based on calendar days. This means that you'll pay for a whole day even if you drop off the car in the day's early hours.
To avoid this, keep an eye on the dropoff details mentioned in the policy. Also, keep an eye on the clock. Returning the rental car a few hours late is not worth the extra money you'll spend in rent. Alternatively, you can opt for a rental company with a relaxed return policy or be mindful of timings in third party insurance and book according to calendar days. Each case is different. Make sure you understand yours and act accordingly.
Needless to say, this list is not exhaustive. Car rental insurance is not simple and can be confusing to the uninitiated. However, that's nothing some research and confidence can't cure. You may be a rookie to the car rental insurance game, but it's essential not to let it show. By mentally preparing yourself and avoiding these rookie mistakes, you can improve your car rental journey manifold. Never again will you have to fear the brain-numbing paperwork or creeping paranoia. You're now insured from car rental insurance!