Jan Zobel, a tax preparer in Oakland, Calif., rents a car when she travels to Hawaii several times a year. Zobel receives coverage using her American Express card, which charges her $17.95 per rental. "I'm not a big AmEx card user, but you can bet that I pay for every rental now with that card," she says.
If you decide to purchase insurance through the rental car company, be sure to read the fine print. "Most people do not read the rental agreement," Scheiber says. "Every car rental agreement can be different, and you should be aware of that when renting a car. Most agreements are similar but like anything, when you sign your name to something, or agree by signature to a contract, you should know what you are signing. You can be contractually obligated." For example, the agreement might only cover one driver, so that would prevent you from taking turns on the road with your spouse. Don't be afraid to call the rental car company and ask questions before you take the insurance policy.
Above all, make sure you have some form of insurance on the rental car. The last thing you want is to get into an accident and be underinsured—or worse, uninsured. Many rental companies will allow uninsured customers to rent a car. For example, if you reserve from Hertz at the airport, the reservationist will not ask you for your insurance policy, nor do you have to show proof of insurance, Abrams says. "If not insured, the renter must understand exposure and liability, what coverage they may have through credit card or homeowners, and look at protection packages offered from the rental company," he says.