Our Agency’s short answer to this question is YES, you should always buy the insurance when you’re renting a car!
The longer answer is that yes buying the rental insurance is always a good idea, because in the event that something were to happen to the car while it’s in your charge your regular auto policy may have some coverage but depending on the circumstances it may not be enough.
For example, if you’re a US resident but renting a car outside of the US you have limited or no coverage under your existing auto policy, and in a situation like that the best thing for you to do would be to reach out to your agent or carrier and find out exactly what your coverage is for the destination you’re going to.
Another example of when your coverage would not apply to a rental car would be if you rented a car for, let’s say, 5 days and on the 3rd day you were to get into an accident and damage the car. You only have 2 more days left on your reservation but the car needs to spend the next 6 days in the shop to get back into working order, without the extra insurance that you could have purchased at the rental counter, you could be charged for a total of 9 days, the 3 of your original rental that you used it for plus the extra 6 that it spent in the shop. That’s what’s referred to as a “loss of use” charge which the rental car company can often times pass on to you if you don’t purchase the insurance to cover any damage you do to the car.
“But what if I have something in my policy called ‘rental reimbursement’?” you might ask, well that’s not to be confused with coverage FOR rented vehicles that you may have. The rental reimbursement on your policy is there for if your own car (not any rental you may have) is damaged and needs to be worked on for an extended period of time in which you must get a rental car in order to have a mode of transportation while the work on your car is being done.
So in summation, it is ALWAYS a good idea to purchase the insurance from the rental car counter when renting a car in order to be fully protected.