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Take Time to Talk

Get your insurance ducks in a row before you start your vacation.
By Robin Jones

Picture this: You just got off the plane, and you’re waiting at the rental car counter for the clerk to pull up your reservation. You’re daydreaming about driving along the beach, when the clerk interrupts your reverie. “Would you like to purchase our optional insurance coverage?” he asks.

It’s just one of several insurance-related scenarios you might encounter this summer. As you plan for your vacation, you also need to think about your insurance, to make sure you’re properly covered should something unexpected happen. Here are some common seasonal situations where it helps to have some insurance know-how.

Renting a car

Typically, if you have a full-coverage auto policy, it will apply, subject to deductibles, to rental cars in the United States. However, before you leave home, review your policy and declarations pages so you’re aware of what insurance protection you have. That way, you’ll know what you might need when you get to the rental counter.

The most common optional insurance coverage by rental car companies is Collision Damage Waiver (CDW). This CDW covers the cost to repair the rental vehicle if it is stolen, vandalized or if you return it damaged. The waiver may also cover loss-of-use fees that a rental agency might charge while a car is being repaired. Again, if your auto policy is a full-coverage policy, you would be covered for these losses subject to the limits of your deductible.

Optional insurance coverage offered by rental car companies can be very expensive and can vary depending on where you’re renting a car. Make sure you read the contract or talk to the rental agent if you have questions about what that optional auto policy covers before you go. Another possible source of coverage is your credit card. Check with your credit card company to see if it covers any deductibles in the event of a loss with a rental car that is charged on the card.

Going on a road trip

Before you hit the road, make sure your insurance is up-to-date and consider these questions:

Are you going to share the driving? Check to see if your auto policy covers a permissive user–someone else that you allow to drive the car. If it does, then your auto coverage remains in effect no matter who’s driving. However, if you’ve specifically excluded someone from your policy (for example, a person who has his or her own policy or a child who’s away at college), your loss wouldn’t be covered if that person was driving and became involved in an accident.

Crossing the border? Many U.S. insurance policies are valid in Canada. In Mexico, however, U.S. policies are often invalid. If you’re involved in an accident anywhere in Mexico, your insurance company might not be able to help you. You can buy Mexico auto insurance for your trip from any of the brokers along the border or at selected AAA branch offices in border communities.

Robin Jones is a contributor from Long Beach, Calif.

Make sure you have adequate insurance coverage for all your needs, including while on vacation. Your insurance representative can provide more details. Stop in at a AAA branch,
call 1-888-428-8625, or go to

May/Jun 2012 Issue


Joe Pruett

Q: I’m planning a family trip this summer to Canada and will be driving my car. Do I need anything special in the way of insurance documents or papers to take my car into Canada?

A: You should carry your vehicle registration, and you will have to obtain a Canadian Insurance Card showing that your vehicle has the required coverage. Most policies already have the necessary coverage limits for travel in Canada, and there is no cost to have your insurance agent provide you with a card. If you have a radar detector, however, leave it at home as they are illegal in Canada.

– Joe Pruett
AAA Sales Agent
Conway, Ark.

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