Car Rental Insurance FAQs

Question) Am I insured when I rent a car though Explore Rentals?

Answer) Yes. But not wonderfully. Car rental industry standards apply state minimum legal insurance requirements to our rental vehicles, and those driving them- just like all actual rental car agencies. So you are completely legal, and have liability coverage (again to state minimum requirements), but do not have great coverage in the case of collision (like hitting a deer). Ideally, you have a comprehensive personal auto insurance policy that will provide the same coverages that you have driving personal car, while driving our rental car.

Q) Not your car, but still your problem.

Answer) We can’t phrase it any better.

No matter what the situation, and what personal coverages you may have with your insurance- you, the renter, are responsible for paying damages. If you are not willing to accept responsibility personally, we are not willing to provide you a rental car. It is your, the renter’s, responsibility to know what insurance coverages you have. If you get in an accident with one of our rental cars and do not have sufficient insurance coverage, we will pursue you personally for damages. This is an unpleasant process that we never want to do, so please make sure you personally have sufficient insurance coverage.

Question) How do I get better coverage and coverage for collision?

Answer) As long as you have full coverage auto insurance, with rental car coverage, driving one of our rentals is just like driving your own car. Same coverages, same deductible. This is typically the best choice for 95% of renters.

If you only carry liability insurance on your personal auto policy, or do not have a US personal auto policy, we require renters to purchase our offered Renter’s Collision Protection insurance (RCP). This third party insurance isn’t cheap (currently $21 daily) but it will act as primary insurance in the case of collision, with a $250 deductible and $20,000 maximum payout. This means if you hit a deer and have purchased RCP, you pay us the deductible, sign some papers, and and we handle the rest. RCP does not cover everything, like Loss of Use, or towing, or if you do damage to the vehicle in excess of $20,000- so it is not a perfect system, but it is the best option we have.

Or) Sign up and purchase the American Express Premium Car Rental Protection plan. $25 per rental contract (not per day) for $0 deductible with up to $100,000 in coverages. This is by far the best (and cheapest) collision coverage available. You must do this personally, we cannot do it for you.

AMEX Premium Rental Car Coverage DOES NOT provide coverages for our rental 12-passenger vans!

Question) Doesn’t my credit card provide coverage?

Answer) Maybe. Credit cards really do not like to pay out for rental car damages. Generally, credit cards consider any rental car coverage as a card benefit, not insurance. This enables card services to avoid insurance regulations. The only credit card coverage we have had any ease of dealing with is AMERICAN EXPRESS PREMIUM CAR RENTAL PROTECTION. This is the service you have to sign up for and pay an extra $25 for the duration of the rental contract. However, it provides $0 deductible for collisions and they actually pay!

Some things we have learned about credit card coverages in the past:

  • Mastercard is the absolute WORST. It seems their technique is to drag a claim out so long that people eventually give up. Of the three claims we have had renter’s try to process, Mastercard has taken an average of 4-months to settle. Expect nothing but frustration dealing with MC.
  • Premium American Express coverage is the best! Please buy this, it is better for you and for us.  They are so much easier to deal with, we will happily accept AMEX’s higher CC rate if you buy this.
  • Costco Citi Card is the only card we have experienced to cover Loss of Use.

NOTE: Premium Amex Coverage DOES NOT provide coverages for our 12-Passenger rental vans!!!

Each credit card is different and provides different coverages. Again, the only one we have ever had a positive experience with is the premium AMEX coverage. The information provided above reflects OUR experience over the years. This information is not to be interpreted as definitions of coverages as provided by others. Use at your own risk!

Q) What is Loss of Use? 

A) Loss of Use stinks, but it is sometimes unavoidable. Example: Samantha hits a reindeer in one of our rental cars the day before Christmas. She is fine, and Rudolph ran off, but the car is undrivable for 7-days while it gets repaired. Consequently, Explore Rentals is losing revenue by not being able to rent the car out to the people that have a reservation starting Christmas day, the same day Samantha is leaving Bozeman. Loss of Use (regardless of cause or fault) is actually loss of revenue = not cool. We don’t like this, and therefore, have to charge Samantha the daily rental rate until the vehicle can be reentered into the rental fleet.

Most of the time we are able to schedule repairs in our slower shoulder seasons and can avoid having to charge Loss of Use. Sometimes we can’t, and as pursuant with our rental contract, we do have to charge Loss of Use. Very few insurance policies will cover Loss of Use charges, and we do not know of any tertiary policies available that provide LoU coverages.

Insider’s Tip: If you treat us with decency and honesty, we will likely be much more willing to work with you on Loss of Use charges.

Question) What is the Physical Damage Waiver? Do I want this? (BTW we do not offer this)

Answer) Physical Damage Waiver/ Loss Damage Waiver/ Collision Damage Waiver: they are all the same thing.PDW/LDW/CDW for short. None are insurance. You will see these three letters in any car rental contract in the US. The easiest explanation is that PDW/LDW/CDW is a way for car rental companies to make more money. PDW assigns an additional daily rate payable to the rental car company that provides a finite liability to the renter for accidents in involving collision only (i.e. hitting a deer). Example, PDW costs renter $15/ day with a $1,000 maximum. Renter hits a deer, they pay rental car company daily rate, plus $1,000, and they walk away. Regardless of the cost of repairs, Loss of Use, or just about anything else. This system can work well for the renter, but it is rife with wording designed to minimize the companies actual exposure. If you read the small print, you will see the Prohibited Use of vehicle on the back voids PDW/LDW/CDW agreements. So if you drive on a gravel road- at any point of your rental term- you have voided your PDW agreement. Not practical for a rental car in Montana.

If you accept the PDW/LDW/CDW your insurance company, and/ or your credit card company will most likely deny all coverages!!!

PDW in conclusion:
  • If you have personal auto insurance with rental car coverage, accepting the PDW is not a sound financial idea.
  • If you have additional primary collision insurance, such as our RCP Insurance, or American Express Premium Coverage, accepting the PDW is not a sound idea.

At Explore Rentals we do not offer CDW/ PDW/ LDW.

Question) Can I use one of your rental cars for commercial use? 

Answer) 1) UBER, Lyft, Taxi Service, Livery, Ride Share, Food Delivery: a giant, resounding, NO. Use of any of our vehicles for these, or similar purposes, voids all insurance coverages.

2) If you are a licensed Tour Guide and can provide a COI (Certificate of Insurance) proving you have coverages for Non-Owned/ Rental Vehicles, yes.

4) If you are a Production company and can provide a COI, no problem at all.

Question) What do I need to sign/ insurance to get when I rent a car?

Answer) As an owner of an independent car rental business, this is what I do when I rent a car:

  1. I have a comprehensive personal auto insurance policy that extends coverage to when I rent a car.
  2. I am signed up for the Amex Premium Car Rental Protection plan. Although this costs me an extra $25 per each time I rent a car, I know if there is a fender-bender, Amex will act as primary coverage and it will not go on my personal auto policy (potentially increasing my rates).
  3. I decline any offered insurance coverages from the rental car agency, such as CDW/LDW/PDW, personally accepting full responsibility for the vehicle. This is required if something terrible does happen in order for my personal auto and Amex plan to be able to work.
  4. I decline prepaying for fuel or any of the other million things the agent tries to sell me on.

Follow these steps and you will be as good-to-go as possible!