Expat purchasing Rental Car Insurance / Umbrella Policy (?)

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Expat purchasing Rental Car Insurance / Umbrella Policy (?)

Post by canga » Sat Aug 22, 2015 10:53 am

I'm an expat and will be renting a car in the USA in a few weeks at JFK for a personal trip. I am over 25 years old. Because of my country of residence I do not have any insurance, and trying to understand the different insurance types has been very confusing. My understanding is that there are 4 basic types of insurance:
- Collision Damage Waiver (CDW)/ Loss Damage Waiver (LDW)
- Personal Accident Insurance (PAI)
- Personal Effects Coverage (PEC)
- Supplemental Liability Insurance

I have a few questions broken down into categories. Any help would be appreciated, thanks!

1. Liability Insurance - Should I purchase Supplemental Liability Insurance through the rental car company or a third party? Is there anywhere that rates are clearly listed? Rates and coverage limits seem to vary substantially, and most rental car reps seem to be clueless. Any rental car companies that have recommended coverage or ones to avoid?

2. Umbrella Policy - Would an umbrella policy be recommended and where can/should this be purchased? Net worth high 5 figures so this may be recommended.

3. CDW/LDW - I plan to use a Visa Signature card which states that it provides CDW for the full cost of the car, and that I would need to decline the rental car company's CDW policy. Out of all of my credit cards this coverage appears to be the best (I also have Mastercard and Discover). Talking to the Visa rep this coverage seems to be sufficient, and I will meet the terms needed to get Visa's coverage (i.e. under 15 day rental, etc). Anyone see a reason to use the rental car company's CDW in lieu of Visa's?

4 Other Insurance - The PAI and PEC do not seem worthwhile. My wife and I will be using the rental car, and we both have excellent health insurance (that will cover us in the USA) and we do not plan to store any valuables in the car when not occupied.

5. Other Concerns - Any issue driving through other states including NY, NJ, CT, MA, and RI? Most rental cars state that unlimited mileage is provided.

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Re: Expat purchasing Rental Car Insurance / Umbrella Policy (?)

Post by TravelGeek » Sat Aug 22, 2015 5:21 pm

Your credit card would likely be a sufficient substitute for CDW/LDW. Make sure there are no time restrictions (I think my cards cover only rentals up to 30 days) impacting your trip.

The only think I would be worried about is liability coverage. As understand it, car rental companies in most states are required to provide coverage, alas only at the state minimum. Those tend to be ridiculously low ($25k?) and the supplemental coverage offered by he rental agencies seems to address that. Not sure if there is an easy and more cost effective way to get it from another insurance provider.

Actually, since you are not a U.S. resident, one thing you might want to look into is booking the rental with a foreign travel agency or package tour provider. They tend to bundle insurance and often have pretty competitive rates, too.

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Re: Expat purchasing Rental Car Insurance / Umbrella Policy (?)

Post by Watty » Sat Aug 22, 2015 6:47 pm

canga wrote:I'm an expat and will be renting a car in the USA in a few weeks at JFK for a personal trip.
I don't know about the insurance but car rentals at the airport typically have additional fees and taxes on the rental that a rental from the same company at location other than then airport do not have. As I recall $10 to $15 dollars a day is not unusual. I have gotten around these and saved a lot for longer rentals by renting a car at the airport for a day or two, then dropping that car off at a different non-airport location and picking up a different car at that location that would not have the extra airport fees. I have then been able to drop off the are at the airport on my way out of town, usually without an extra fee. Be sure to check the details of the non-airport locations carefully since they only be open limited hours and they may be hard to find if they are in a hotel lobby or car dealership.

By "expat" it sounds like you are a US citizen but may not have a US drivers license. If so it would be good to check the states that you will be driving in to see if your foreign drivers licence and international driving permit, IDP,(basically a translation of your drivers license if it is not in English) will be valid for a US citizen. For example if your were a German Citizen and had a German drivers licences and the IDP you should be OK. The problem is that some US citizens with revoked US drivers licenses have tried to get a foreign drivers license so they could drive in the US so a German drivers license may not be valid in the US for a US citizen.

Getting a US drivers license would take time and might be hard to do since you would not be a residence of a state. In some states getting a state drivers license might also make your a resident of that state for tax purposes and you might end up having to pay that states income taxes.

If you are in the US military there are likely a different set of rules.

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Re: Expat purchasing Rental Car Insurance / Umbrella Policy (?)

Post by bpp » Sat Aug 22, 2015 10:16 pm

I would think that a non-US license plus IDP should be sufficient in any state. Some states will not require an IDP for licenses from certain countries (California allows Japanese licenses without IDP, for example), but with an IDP you should be fine anywhere.

Be careful of credit card limitations of coverage if you are a non-resident. But I guess you've already checked that fine-print.

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Re: Expat purchasing Rental Car Insurance / Umbrella Policy (?)

Post by canga » Sun Aug 23, 2015 1:20 am

Good responses so far, thanks. I still have a valid US driver's license and I can get CDW coverage through my credit card.

Any thoughts on an umbrella insurance policy and where to get one? One concern I have is that the umbrella insurance policy would only be active in the USA, and I only spend up to 3 weeks a year back in the USA. However if rental insurance coverage provides extremely low liability coverage then it may be worth a few hundred dollars for peace of mind.

What about resources comparing liability coverage for the different rental car companies?

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