Have you ever noticed how hard car rental agencies push their damage waiver while you’re standing at the rental counter? The reason for this is that these policies typically come complete with incredible profit margins. What a lot of people don’t know is that many car insurance companies provide rental coverage, especially if the rental is being driven in place of your regular car (as is usually the case when you’re travelling).
On top of your (possible) regular insurance coverage, all major credit card issuers provide some amount of rental car insurance coverage, though they differ a bit in what they’ll cover. Here’s a brief synopsis based on a Wikipedia article on the topic:
MasterCard and American Express: Collisions, theft, vandalism and weather-related damage.
Visa: Collisions and theft.
Discover: Collisions only.
Interestingly, MasterCard only covers you when driving on paved roads, whereas Discover and Visa cover you on all types of roads. It’s also important to note that none of the issuers provide liability coverage. It’s also important to note that debit cards don’t typically offer this sort of protection.
As always, be sure to read the fine print, as the finer details vary from one card to the next, and there are a number of exclusions.