Rental car insurance: Safe or senseless?

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PHOENIX - “About $90 a day, but that's without coverages. You're going to need to go with a coverage,” an employee for a rental car company told 3 On Your Side.

If you've ever rented a car, chances are you've heard the spiel about the importance of purchasing extra insurance for the vehicle.

“A lot of people's insurance doesn't cover our car so it's actually a good thing to have,” another rental car employee said.

Adding the insurance is supposed to give you the peace of mind of knowing if you wreck, you're covered.

“In case something happened, I wanted to make sure we're protected,” one Detroit traveler told us at Sky Harbor International Airport.

But at around $25 per day, the question is: Is it worth the money?

No, according to Rick Owens, who says he's spent hundreds of dollars on rental car insurance in the past, only to discover recently that his personal car insurance coverage automatically extends to rental cars.

“Progressive has, and that's my insurance company, has told me that I am covered because I have full coverage on any rental car, and that I don't need their insurance that they're trying to offer,” Rick said.

Ron Williams with the Arizona Insurance Council tells 3 On Your Side, despite pushy sales people you are not required to purchase insurance at the rental car counter, saying the coverage on your everyday vehicle likely transfers to any car you don't own, like rentals.

“Therefore, you're already covered, so why spend the money on the extra insurance,” Ron said.

Still, rental car companies like to push their insurance, claiming if you wreck your rental you'll have to pay for the time the car is out of commission.

“And another thing, Arizona charges for down time until it returns to the fleet,” a rental car employee said.

State Farm's Gus Miranda says the chances of you being charged for loss of use are slim, and that those chances don't change just because of the state you're in.

Above all, he recommends you simply check with your agent and ask questions before you ever walk up to the rental car counter.

“When one of our insured hopefully goes to rent a car, we hope that they've talked with their agent prior so that they don't have that feeling of angst when they're making the decisions based on what the representative from the rental car company is asking them,” Gus said.