Travel: Do You Really Need Rental Car Insurance?

With every car rental transaction comes the slightly uncomfortable moment when the agent behind the counter tries to foist the company’s insurance on you. When this happened to me at Hertz at the Hilo International Airport in Hawaii a few weeks ago, I did what I always do: I firmly and politely said no, thank you.

It’s been ingrained in me that buying into the rental company’s insurance is a waste of money. In my case, it would have nearly doubled the price of my rental. I have personal auto insurance and was vaguely confident the credit card I used to rent the car, a Chase Sapphire Preferred card, offered some kind of coverage. Besides, I thought, nothing had ever gone wrong.

And then something went wrong.

One minute I was on my way to an afternoon tasting on a Kona coffee farm, the next I was on a rocky shoulder with two flat tires in an area with no cellphone service and few houses, trying to find some way to call for help. In the ensuing hours and days, I learned some valuable lessons about what happens when you damage your rental car.

If something happens, you’re responsible.

Of the umbrella of insurances Hertz tries to sell you, the one you need to pay attention to is the loss damage waiver, which covers damage to the vehicle. If you don’t buy it through Hertz, it doesn’t matter if you were saving orphans from a burning building — if any part of the car is damaged, you are responsible, regardless of how it happened.

In my case, two flat tires was a “no-fault” incident that involved no other drivers. No matter: I was on the hook. Hertz would demand remuneration, be it out of my pocket or through personal auto, credit card or other insurance.

Know what your insurance covers.

Before you rent, find out what your card and personal auto insurance offer, and then supplement what they don’t through the rental agency. If you have personal car insurance with comprehensive and liability, it most likely will cover your rental car. Call your insurance company to verify. Filing a hefty claim with your insurance, keep in mind, will probably raise your premium.

Credit card rental car insurance can be primary or secondary. Primary means it’s a first line of defense. Secondary means it’s, well, secondary. “Many people incorrectly assume that all credit card rental protection is the same,” said Mark Orlowski, Marketplace Morning Report travel contributor. “If it’s secondary coverage, you’ll be forced to involve your primary personal auto insurance company and file a claim before you can get anything from your credit card company.”

The coverage offered by my Chase Sapphire Preferred card is primary, and offers reimbursement up to the value of the car if the car is damaged or stolen. It does not cover personal liability — that is, if you or someone else gets hurt.

Some cards, like the American Express Platinum Card, offer limited personal liability. Car rental companies offer supplemental liability insurance, typically increasing the coverage amount to $1 million. Do you need that much coverage? Probably not. Are there times when it makes sense? Sure, especially if you have a high deductible.

AAA is worth it.

Instead of using Hertz roadside assistance to tow my car (which would have cost hundreds of dollars), I used my own AAA Plus membership, which provides up to four free tows per year, up to 100 miles each. The AAA Plus membership has other benefits too, like flat tire service — provided you have only one flat tire. In my case, with two flat tires, they would only tow my car.

Note that this applies within the 50 states — overseas it becomes trickier. There are international auto clubs, some of which offer reciprocal services.

It’s not over till it’s over.

When I got back to Hertz, I filled out an incident report, signed off on a vehicle inspection form that noted two tires were damaged, and paid $148 for the two tires right at the desk. I returned home, smarting from the additional cost but happy little else was damaged but my pride.

Then, nine days after the incident, I received an email with a lengthy attachment from a collections specialist at Hertz informing me that, upon further review, two wheels on my rental were scraped and needed to be replaced. The bill? $1,475.88. (Weeks later, I still haven’t resolved this.)

Call your personal insurance. Or don’t.

In the event your credit card claim is denied, you may find yourself calling your personal insurance provider months after the fact. And when that happens, they’ll probably ask why you didn’t call them sooner to report the incident.

Even though I was using my credit card as primary insurance, I called Geico to let them know what happened with my rental. They then filed their own report without starting an actual claim. That way, I will have the option of opening a claim later in the event the credit card insurance doesn’t come through.

Word of warning: Don’t call your insurance company with hypotheticals like “Hey, what if, say, my tires blew out on a rental car and I wasn’t sure if I should report it to you?” They’ve already started a report before you even finished the sentence.

Get copies of everything.

I was directed by Chase to a third-party site, eclaimsline.com, to file my claim. Upon filing, you’ll need copies of things you didn’t even know existed, let alone were in your possession.

You’ll occasionally get the feeling that benefits administrators are making you jump through hoops to wear you down, knowing that many people will give up on their claims if the process is difficult enough.

Some of these items can be comically difficult, or impossible, to obtain. I was bounced around for hours on the phone before getting my “proof of service” from AAA.

Itemizations can also be tricky: Card Benefit Services told me they required an “itemization” — not just a bill, or receipt — for the $148 I paid for the two tires. When I wrote to the specialist at Hertz asking for this itemization, she informed me that such a thing did not exist.

Take lots of phone pictures.

You shouldn’t only take pictures in the event of an accident: It never hurts to get before and after pictures as I did.

Mr. Orlowski, the Marketplace Morning Report contributor, referring to his own experience, said doing that “saved me many hours of headache when Avis billed me $518 six months after the rental was over for a golf-ball sized hole in the front bumper. I sent them the photo I had taken showing the bumper damage at pickup and the issue was quickly resolved.”
Turn down the arbitration provision.

When you rent a car through Hertz, you are, whether you like it or not, agreeing to private arbitration in the event of a dispute — an arbitration process that, among other things, does not allow for meaningful appeals and is heavily weighted in favor of the corporation.

With Hertz, the arbitration provision is buried deep in the fourth page of the rental agreement. Fortunately, you can opt out of forced arbitration with Hertz if you email them within 30 days of renting, saying you reject the provision.

More than 670 auto dealers across Canada ask for customers’ help to end distracted driving

More than 670 auto dealers across Canada ask for customers’ help to end distracted driving

Customers walking through the doors of their neighborhood auto dealership over the next month may be asked to do more than check out the latest vehicle models. They will also be encouraged to take a pledge against distracted driving – a dangerous and growing trend that is responsible for 4 million vehicle collisions a year in North America.

Today marks the official start of the 2016 Auto Dealers Against Distracted Driving Campaign across Canada, with 670 auto dealerships currently registered nation-wide to participate. By lending their name to the cause, auto dealers are joining forces in their communities to say: we are not okay with distracted driving.

Throughout the month of March, customers who visit participating dealerships will be asked to make a personal pledge against the fatal behaviour and make a formal commitment to improve road safety by not driving distracted. Pledges from customers and dealership employees can also be submitted online at www.distractionfree.ca.

“This is our second year participating in the campaign and we’re hoping to build off of the great response we saw from our customers last year; our Applewood Kia location in Surrey, BC, was among the top dealers in the country with 618 individual pledges collected over the course of campaign month,” says Linda Thomas, a campaign champion for Applewood Auto Group. “It’s important we engage directly with our customers because we believe that the act of physically signing your name will encourage a real behavioural change. We hope our campaign will encourage them to think twice before reaching for their phone while behind the wheel.”

LGM Financial Services Inc. instigated the campaign as a platform for Canadian dealers to step up against a growing industry issue; more importantly, to influence consumers directly through their automotive retail point-of-sale. As a collective force, dealers have the ability to bring more awareness to a form of impaired driving that puts their communities at risk – both drivers and pedestrians alike.

The campaign aims to educate drivers on the easy and simple solutions to resist the urge to drive distracted, such as pairing to blue tooth and securing potential distractions before starting a trip.

“A total of 433 dealerships registered for our inaugural campaign last year and today, we are already sitting at 670 dealers, which is approximately a 50% increase– and there’s potential for that number to grow since dealers can register right up until the end of March,” says Marc-Andre Lefebvre, vice president of sales for the Quebec region at LGM. “Measuring registered dealers is only one form of engagement; we are also aiming to surpass last year’s campaign pledge count of 3,000 and I’m confident we will do that.”

This campaign is generously supported by Sovereign General Insurance Company and The Co-operators.

This March, help keep roads safe across Canada by visiting a local participating dealership or by making an online pledge of support against distracted driving from home at www.distractionfree.ca. Follow the national campaign on Twitter (@LGMCanada).

About LGM Financial Services Inc. –
Since 1998, LGM Financial Services Inc. has been a leader in Canada’s automotive industry by supplying branded warranty, insurance and finance products to distinguished automotive manufacturers across the country. Driven by innovation and service excellence, LGM is focused on maximizing dealership performance and customer satisfaction through quality products that are backed by an elite F&I sales training program and a comprehensive claims, service and support network. Read more at LGM.ca.

Background material:

Campaign video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OiKFnYD-HAc.

SOURCE LGM Financial Services Inc.

Surprise, surprise: Female buyers still encounter sexism in the dealership

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The Most Expensive 2016 Cars To Insure

Let’s face facts, if you’re financially able to purchase a high-performance sports car or top-shelf luxury vehicle you’re probably already prepared to fork over the proverbial arm and a leg to insure it.

But to indulge the schadenfreude of those less financially fortunate – or more fiscally responsible – we present the 2016 list of the costliest cars to insure, as compiled annually by Insure.com, in the accompanying slideshow.

The car that tops the charts this year is the hot-blooded Dodge Viper GT sports car, with an average annual auto insurance premium of $4,048. The Viper displaces the Nissan GT-R Nismo sport coupe that led the list for the past two years, and for 2016 drops to the number six spot.

Though its unlikely anyone would ever cross-shop the two models, those who would eschew the Viper and instead make a far safer and saner choice like the Honda Odyssey LX minivan, which the website cites as being the cheapest car to insure for 2016 at an average of just $1,113, would wind up saving $2,935 annually in premiums or a total of $14,675 over a five-year ownership period.

Source: Forbes

Garneau seeks Senate advice on rules, regs for future of driverless cars

By Joan Bryden

THE CANADIAN PRESS

OTTAWA _ Canada’s Senate, often accused of being an anachronism, is being asked to wrestle with the futuristic dream of driverless cars.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau wants the Senate’s transportation and communications committee to launch a study of the regulatory, policy and technical issues that need to be addressed so that Canada can safely and smoothly make the transition to self-driving vehicles a coming automotive revolution that’s already being road tested in Ontario and elsewhere.

His request for a Senate study is part of the Trudeau government’s attempt to recast the much-maligned upper house as an independent and valued institution that has an important parliamentary role to play.

It follows Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s creation of an arm’s-length advisory board to recommend non-partisan nominees for appointment to the Senate.

Among other things, Garneau says the committee should examine the potential for Canada to set standards for the development of automated cars that can operate safely on icy winter roads.The technology I’m talking about is not science fiction,” Garneau said during an appearance late Wednesday before the Senate committee.

“The technology I’m talking about is not science fiction,” Garneau said during an appearance late Wednesday before the Senate committee.

“It is in development today and has the potential to improve safety, efficiency and the environmental performance of transportation in Canada and other countries.”

Still, he said there are many questions that must be addressed, including the long-term impact on privacy, energy, land use, transportation demand and employment.

Garneau and Canadian Heritage Minister Melanie Joly were invited to appear Wednesday before the committee to discuss the mandate letters given to them by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when they took charge of their portfolios. Garneau took the opportunity to ask the committee to launch a driverless car study.

“I’m one of these people who believes that the Senate is part of Parliament, that has done some very serious and very important and groundbreaking studies and I want to engage with them in the most productive possible way,” Garneau said in an interview.

Self-driving vehicles have the potential to make driving safer, he said, noting that automated vehicles “don’t fall asleep, they don’t drink.” And they’re potentially more energy efficient because “there’s less of a heavy foot on the gas and heavy foot on the brake kind of driving.”

But there are also challenges, like ensuring vehicles have backups should their computer systems fail and figuring out how to replicate human judgment in unpredictable winter driving conditions.

Driverless vehicles will automatically keep a safe distance from other vehicles but, Garneau noted: “We in Canada have to make judgment calls in the winter time when we’re on icy roads and black ice. So that’s got to be part of it as well because they’re not all nice California roads.”

Moreover, Garneau said automated cars raise issues of liability and insurance, cyber security, to ensure that vehicles’ computer systems can’t be hacked, and privacy, to protect those who don’t want their whereabouts constantly tracked.

“There are rules and regulations that will have to be put in place that don’t exist at the moment.”

canada-press

 

Uber launches campaign to push Alberta NDP on insurance needs

JODIE SINNEMA | Edmonton Journal

Uber is hoping a grassroots uprising will push the provincial government to move faster to approve insurance for the ride-sharing company.

The California-based company is urging its fans to tweet their support and write to their MLAs and cabinet ministers to make sure the government meets a March 1 deadline to approve broader insurance and licensing needs for Uber.

Even though Edmonton became the first Canadian city to pass an Uber-friendly bylaw in January, the company can’t get a licence under the new bylaw without provincially approved insurance to better cover consumers. An Uber driver caught without proper insurance could face a $5,000 fine.

“Without approval by the NDP government before March 1, thousands of Albertans will lose their ability to earn by providing rides, and tens of thousands will lose access to a much needed transportation option,” says a statement from Jean-Christophe de Le Rue, in senior communications for Uber Canada. “We are eager for continued collaboration with the province and are hopeful they will act soon.”

As of mid-afternoon Tuesday, Premier Rachel Notley’s office had received at least 300 letters through the Uber campaign.

“Government is currently looking at options,” a statement from the office of Transportation Minister Brian Mason said.

Alberta is committed to finding an appropriate solution allowing ride share companies to operate in a fair manner, while also protecting drivers, passengers, and other road users.”

Mason was unavailable for further comment.

De Le Rue, based in Montreal, said if “the provincial government doesn’t act on driver’s licensing and insurance before this bylaw comes into effect on March 1, Uber will be forced to cease operating in Alberta.”

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