Rental Car Questions

You have rented a vehicle for a personal* trip. You are pretty excited about your trip, but before you get the keys, the rental agency representative has asked you to make a few decisions regarding add on fees. Typically, fees that are added on can include: Physical Damage Waiver, Liability waiver, pre-paid gas, navigation, toll roads**, etc.

When considering if you should buy the Physical Damage and Liability Waiver, you should consider if traveling domestically or internationally. Further, you should review your personal automobile insurance policy and see what coverage you have on your personal vehicle(s).  Always contact your insurance  agent for any questions or to discuss specific situations. Your credit card company may offer some coverage as well. Make sure to read the fine print on the credit card offering as they can be very limited and quickly voided.


If you carry comprehensive and collision coverage on your owned vehicle, then you likely have coverage for a rental vehicle. However, some costs would very likely not be covered by your personal insurance. These costs can include:

  • The Deductible,
  • Loss of Use of the rented car,
  • The rental vehicles diminution value,
  • Fees associated with towing and storage

Overall, we do not recommend purchasing the rental agencies insurance when renting domestically. However, you need to contact your agent and make sure you understand the coverage available via your policy so that you can make an informed decision. If bureaucracy and paperwork drive you crazy, then buying the physical damage waiver may be worth the extra money.



We recommend always buying at least the minimum liability and physical damage coverage available via the rental agency. Liability is likely available under either a personal auto policy and/or an umbrella liability policy. However, local laws need to be satisfied. Without proof of local coverage, you could be detained after an accident until financial responsibility can be documented.

*Personal, not business trip

**Toll Road Fees. Christopher Elliott wrote and interesting article on this issue for the January 26, 2017 edition of The Washington Post. “How to avoid ‘gotcha’ toll fees from your rental-car company