Many are the questions that come to our minds before renting a car in the United States. Some of them you will see answered in this post about how to rent a cheap car. But today we bring you a post that emphasizes one point in particular: Car insurance in the USA. Which one to choose? How to choose the best one?
When to buy car insurance in the USA?
First of all, let's deal with this common doubt. As we told you in the post linked above, we usually look for rental cars in this comparator. Here are our tips to rent a car at the best price.
When renting a car, this comparator shows us what basic things are included: for example, if a second driver is included, if we have unlimited mileage or not, or if we have to return the tank full or empty. (We prefer to always return it full, by the way).
At the time of formalizing the car rental in the USA, or anywhere else, this comparator offers additional insurance to add to the "shopping cart" before paying. This is an insurance that can be cancelled at any time, even just before you receive the keys of the car.
In addition to offering it during the rental process, the comparator usually sends a reminder email in the following days: "you still have time to contract it".
One option is to purchase it and if when you arrive to pick up the car, you are offered a better one, call the telephone number indicated in the policy and cancel it. The other option is not to hire anything, wait to pick up the car and in the same rental office, formalize with them the car insurance that we want to take in the USA.
How to choose the most convenient car insurance in the USA?
In the USA, car insurance is divided into coverages. It is normal to start with basic insurance and "dress it up" with additional coverage. These coverages are contracted by each individual according to his or her needs/preferences.
Before contracting any car insurance in the USA, it is necessary to be very clear if our rental already includes some coverage or not. For that, and always in general, read the car rental contract well. There you should know what is or is not included.
Most common coverages when hiring a car insurance in the USA The coverages that you are going to see when contracting a car insurance in USA, in general, are the following ones:
CDW or "collision damage waiver": This is in charge of repairing any damage that the car may suffer due to a collision, but be careful, it only covers damages to the vehicle, not to people, ok? In this type of coverage, it is very important that you make sure if they will take care of the damage in full or if you will have to pay the first XX dollars. That is to say, you have to know if your insurance has an excess. If so, ask how much it is. An excess of 100 dollars is not the same as an excess of 600 dollars.
LDW or "loss damage waiver": Sometimes, you can find this coverage included in the description of the CDW. Look for it. This coverage pays for the car if someone steals it. If you do not have it included, we advise you to contract it. It is not a common practice in the U.S. for vehicles to be stolen, but the damage caused in the event of theft is high enough to be taken into account.
SLI or "Supplemental Liability Insurance": This is a liability insurance and if with the CDW we covered the damages that our own car could suffer, with this coverage we cover two things: the damages that other cars could suffer due to our fault and also the people involved, for whose damages we are legally responsible. We have read that car rental companies are not required to say that this is mandatory insurance for Californian drivers. So beware.
PAI or "Personal Accident Insurance": This coverage is in charge of financially covering the damages we may suffer as people in an accident: bodily injury. We never hire it, but not because we do not consider it necessary, but because we always travel with travel insurance.
Ours includes the possible bodily damages suffered in an accident, so it saves us from having to hire extra coverage. We leave you here a 5% discount when you purchase your health travel insurance.
PEC or "Personal Effects Coverage": this coverage takes care of the cost of the personal effects that someone may steal from your vehicle, normally up to an expense limit. It is up to you to choose whether to take it out or not.
However, if you are interested, pay special attention to the coverage and the conditions: Does the lock have to be forced? Broken windows? It never hurts to ask if you want it.
And we have not yet included...
Have you noticed that we haven't even mentioned roadside assistance, or damage to tires, windows or car windows? We have mentioned the most important coverages, but there are many more. It is important that you ask if these things are covered or not. And if not, I would add them for a more relaxed driving.
The most usual thing is that when you go to the rental office, before you pick it up, they will offer you ready-made packs.
It goes without saying that no car insurance in the USA will take care of fines or accidents caused by the effects of alcohol. Beware, as Stevie Wonder once said, "If you drink, don't drive".
The only thing that can happen if the police stop you and catch you drunk or even driving with a small can of beer or any other type of alcohol open, is that they send you directly to a free hotel. It is the one that does not appear in search engines and where they "give" you an orange jumpsuit. Let's go, the jail of a lifetime. Better not to fool around ever, but there, less... Let's leave "Orange is the new Black" for Netflix.
Our tips for choosing a good car insurance in the USA
When you pick up your new car, you will be given a rental contract. It should include a section that can be either a text or a drawing of the car, indicating any previous damages it may have. Well, before you take a selfie with your new California license plate, which we know is really cool, check if the car has any additional damage that is not reflected in the rental contract. If there is, call the supervisor who is there at the time and have him write it down on your copy and his copy, signed, in any way he wants... But prove that it is not your responsibility.
And with the rest of the things, act in the same way: if you see stains inside the vehicle, something broken... The best thing to do is to warn him before taking it.
On a personal level... During the trip we can adjust the budget for many things. But in this matter, it is better not to rely on credit card insurance or similar, if we are not 100% convinced and we know for sure that there is NO fine print.
Do not skimp on CDW, LDW or SLI. ALWAYS carry travel health insurance to cover you for any personal injury, especially to the USA! As for the theft of personal belongings, it is up to you, maybe you never carry luggage with you except when you go and you don't need it?
Do I need car insurance in the USA if I already have travel insurance?
Yes! !!!! Hopefully by this point in the post, it is clear, but when you take out the SO NECESSARY travel health insurance, it is going to cover you, not your car. Therefore, the answer to the question is a resounding yes.
Well, we hope this post about Car Insurance in the USA: How to choose the best one? has been useful for you. As we always say, do not hesitate to ask us any questions you may have when preparing your trips. You have at your service a free help service through the contact form.