We’re flying to Newfoundland in September and renting a car there for three weeks. My husband and I aren’t sure if we should buy the expensive insurance they sell at the counter. I think we’re fine with our credit card’s insurance – it’s a fancy points card so I’m assuming it covers rental car insurance. But my husband thinks we should buy the extra insurance just to be safe. – Briana, Toronto

Before you charge off in a rental car without buying their insurance, check with your credit card company to make sure you’re covered.

“Not every card has collision and damage protection but most premium travel ones do,” says Matt Hands, senior business unit manager of insurance at Ratehub, a rate comparison site. “It’ll say in the pamphlet that came with the card, or you can call and actually ask somebody.”

Buying the insurance they sell at the rental counter can cost $35 (or more) per day, depending on what you get, and a lot of people just buy it to be safe – even though they may already be covered by credit cards or their car insurance, Hands says.

So what do rental car companies offer? It varies. Budget Canada, for instance, sells a collision damage waiver (CDW), personal effects and accident benefits insurance and liability insurance.

A CDW covers the damage to the rental car. Otherwise, you’re on the hook for it.

Accident benefits insurance covers death or dismemberment. Personal effects insurance covers personal items, like cameras or laptops, that may be damaged or stolen.

Liability insurance covers you if you cause injury or damage to property, including another vehicle, over the amount included in the rental agreement.

Canadian rental companies provide some liability coverage, but companies in other countries might not.

Typically, you’ll get the minimum amount of liability coverage required by the province – in Ontario, it’s $200,000 – included in the rental price. At the counter, you can buy more.

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