Travel Tip of the Day: Know Thy Insurance Policy

One of the biggest scams in the car rental business today is supplementary insurance.

I just recently rented a car from Budget and they convinced me that even though I KNEW that my insurance policy covered me in a rental car, BC has special rules and my policy likely only covers me in Ontario.  While I have no proof of this, I definitely get the impression -based on the well rehearsed sales pitch of the agent at the Budget counter- that they are motivated by their company to ‘upsell’ the insurance!

I was in a hurry, so I decided to take the coverage ($26 a day by the way), until I could give my  insurance company a call and confirm I am covered.  Since I was renting the car for 10 days, I definitely was motivated to get this sorted.

I deal with Belair insurance (who I am very happy with), and the agent there actually got angry at the idea that the rental company had tried to rip me off, and mentioned that this ‘scam’ was very common.  He quickly emailed me a form that would dispel any debate on whether I was covered or not, and said that BC is no different than any other province or state that my coverage WOULD apply in (there are some exceptions that he noted: Alaska, Hawaii, and anywhere south of the US/Mexico border).

I went back to the rental counter (15 km drive) and expected a battle.  When I mentioned that I was covered by my insurance and wanted the supplementary insurance dropped, the agent immediately went into damage control mode and made the changes to my policy.  Again, no concrete proof, but the reaction of the agent gave me the impression that this happens a lot!!

So hopefully when you next travel, you will take a little bit of time to understand how you are covered by your own policy, and avoid getting ripped off.


3 Responses

  1. My recommendation is that unless you are renting from ABC Rental Company in a back alley, liability insurance (damage to other peoples’ vehicles if you are in an accident caused by you) is always the responsibility of the car rental company (and you should check that the proof of insurance card is in the glove box before you drive off).

    In addition, a “gold” visa card usually, but not always will cover Collision Damage (damage to the rental car for most reasons). Print from the credit card website (or your Bank’s website) the information about your specific card and read it before going. Armed with this info, despite the scare tactics of the rental car company, initial with confidence the box that has you assume all responsibility for damages, loss etc. regarding collision to the rental car. I categorize the $19.99 or $24.99 that you pay for CDI at the rental desk in the same category as the “extended warranty” you get at Future Shop (don’t let me get into that now…)

    Certain exemptions apply to the CDI attached to your visa card – usually it says you have to pay fully for the car rental using the visa card, and usually you can’t rent exotic or luxury vehicles (so decline the insurance and decline the Jag).

    Speaking of “Jag” I once arrived at Pheonix and they ran out of the regular midsized cars I usually rent – their first option was for me to get upgraded to a Jag (for free).

    I declined, since the client i was visiting was in rough financial shape, so I didn’t want to give off the wrong impression that I was eating lunch on their dime… I downgraded to the economy car instead.


  2. Good points Chris!

    The Gold card can be quite handy. I managed to wreck the bumper of my rental car in England and Visa covered it with very little hassle!

    It was one of those minor incidents where the bumper should have handled it, but since the collision was with a commercial vehicle, their bumper was not so friendly and punched a hole in the car’s bumper.

    The one key benefit of the Visa insurance is that it never showed up on my personal insurance, so it didn’t impact my ‘no incident’ rating.

  3. Lots of of guys write about this topic but you said some true words.

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