Should the worst happen and your rental car is stolen, not only will you have to deal with canceling your credit cards and the prospect of being stranded somewhere unfamiliar with no money, but you may end up being held responsible for the rental car itself. Unfortunately, rental cars are stolen just like other cars. Since they are owned by someone else, though, and put into your care, you are charged with their safekeeping. Rental car insurance is meant to cover you in the event something like an accident or car theft happens. You usually have two choices: basic and full coverage. In addition, you may be covered through your personal car insurer.
You have rented a car and decided to purchase the basic coverage insurance. That means you are protected in the event that you cause bodily harm or property damage to someone else, but you and the rental car are not covered. You have driven to another state and parked the rental car with your personal things in it. When you return, you find the rental car is gone and with it your things. Luckily, you have your wallet on you, but the rental agreement along with the contact information is gone. If you didn’t purchase the damage waiver, you may be stuck with a bill well into the thousands of dollars, provided your personal insurer does not cover rental cars.
The first thing to do is to call the police and file a stolen car report. If you don’t have the vehicle information, you may have to contact the rental car agency, have them track your name to find the car’s information, then give that to the police. After filing with the police and contacting the rental car agency, call your insurance company. If you have rental car coverage, find out the details on any deductible you may have to pay.
This is another name for full coverage insurance. It will usually add another $10 to $20 to your daily bill for the car, but it waives any damages to you in the event of an accident or theft. Double check this with the rental car agent before you drive away, though. Without purchasing this insurance, you will likely be held financially responsible for anything that happens to the rental car. Provided you don’t break the contract, such as by allowing someone else to drive the car, the damage waiver will protect you.
Personal insurance may, in fact, cover rental cars in the event they are stolen or damaged. You will want to check with your insurer, but if they do, don’t bother paying for the damage waiver. One way or the other, though, having insurance on a rental car is a must. If your own car is stolen and you’re not covered, you have lost a car, but you are not responsible to pay for the loss with your own money. With a rental car, you have lost a car that does not belong to you, which is negligent.
Having a rental car stolen can cause you tremendous inconvenience and ruin an otherwise nice trip. Should it happen, hopefully you lost nothing else in the process. If you considered the risk, you purchased the damage waiver or full coverage to protect you from liability.