Car Rental Insurance FAQs

Q) Am I insured when I rent a car?

A) Yes. But not wonderfully. Car rental industry standards apply state minimum legal insurance requirements to our rental vehicles, and those driving them. 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).

Q) Not your car, but still your problem.

A) 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.

FYI, Progressive has historically been the most difficult insurance provider to deal with. We have had a couple of accounts where Progressive went really far out of their way to deny coverages to their Insured. They have paid in the end, but it usually only happens with the threats of getting lawyers and Insurance Commissioners involved.

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

A) Easy. Decline Physical Damage Waiver. What this does is place primary responsibility on you, and your personal auto insurance. So, 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.

Option 2) is to purchase additional Renter’s Collision Protection insurance. This insurance isn’t cheap (currently $19 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 walk away. We handle the rest and it does not show up on your insurance. RCP does not cover everything, like Loss of Use or towing, so it is not a perfect system for all cases. However, we try our best to avoid having to charge Loss of Use.

Option 3) Sign up and purchase the American Express Premium Rental Car Coverage 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.

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

Q) Doesn’t my credit card provide coverage?

A) Maybe. Credit cards really do not like to pay out for rental car damages. There are about 1-million exclusions, and they will drag their feet indefinitely on paying any claims. The only credit card coverage we have had any ease of dealing with is AMERICAN EXPRESS PREMIUM RENTAL CAR COVERAGE. 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.
  • Standard American Express rental car coverage (Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance) does not cover full-sized sport utility vehicles. Claim denied if you rent a Suburban. I imagine the small print for all other credit cards is the same with full-sized SUVs.
  • Premium American Express coverage is the best! Please buy this, it is better for you and for me! Premium Amex Coverage. We will happily accept AMEX’s higher rate if you buy this. They are so much easier to deal with.

OF EXTREME IMPORTANCE: We will not honor claims established with EClaims line. EClaims line is a third party Insurance Provider that some credit cards use for their rental car programs. They are an absolute nightmare of ineptitude. Claims take an unreasonable amount of time to process (3+ months) and life is simply too short to deal with this headache. Renter be warned: you will be charged the full amount estimated damages (pursuant with your rental contract) and will need to seek reimbursement directly from them. We will provide all documentation you will need for your claim, but we will not deal with Eclaims Line directly. In conclusion: EXPLORE RENTALS WILL NOT PROCESS ANY CLAIM WITH ECLAIMS LINE INSURANCE. RENTER WILL BE HELD IMMEDIATELY RESPONSIBLE FOR ESTIMATED DAMAGES FOR ANY CLAIMS FILED WITH ECLAIMS LINE AND RENTER WILL NEED TO PURSUE REIMBURSEMENT FROM ECLAIMS LINE PERSONALLY. Sorry, but we have been down this path too many times before- they are the worst. 

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.

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

A) 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 coverage!!!

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.

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

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

3) If you are a Tour Guide (or a fishing guide) that has been using your personal auto insurance, thinking that is sufficient coverage while you are transporting people for money, absolutely not. Not only will your personal insurance deny coverage, but you will also be voiding our rental contract and our insurance coverages. Been there, done that. Super not cool.

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

Q) Can you tell this all to me in plain English?

A) We’ll try! The best, safest, and cheapest way to rent a car (with Explore Rentals or anyone else):

  1. Make sure you have “Rental Car Coverage” on your personal auto insurance. This usually costs about $20 additional per year and extends your full coverage auto insurance to rental cars.
  2. Sign up and pay for the American Express premium rental car coverage. $25/ rental contract for $0 out of pocket $100,000 for damage or theft. This is the best deal on the planet. Just remember you must pay the entirety of the rental car with your Amex.
  3. Decline the PDW/ LDW/ CDW. You must decline in order to get coverages from your personal and purchased insurances!

Follow these three steps and you have pretty much eliminated your potential accident-related costs of renting a car.