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Contacts:
Andrew Mais, NYSID, 212-480-5262
Scott Holeman, Communications Director, NAIC, 816-783-8909, news@naic.org

ISSUED 11/19/2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT INSURANCE BEFORE REACHING THE CAR RENTAL COUNTER

Survey Reveals Confusion Among Consumers Regarding Rental Car Insurance

A large percentage of U.S. consumers are confused about whether to buy insurance when renting a car, according to new research by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) and the New York State Insurance Department. In fact, many people purchase insurance at the rental counter without knowing whether their existing auto policies or credit card benefits already cover their needs.

“When renting a car, many consumers purchase unnecessary insurance and end up wasting money. Meanwhile, other drivers inadvertently underinsure their rental car, placing themselves at risk,” said New York State Insurance Superintendent Eric Dinallo. “As travel increases around the holiday season, the New York State Insurance Department encourages consumers to investigate whether their existing auto insurance provides sufficient protection for car rental.”

The New York State Insurance Department and the NAIC’s national survey of 632 consumers, conducted from Sept. 19-30, 2007, revealed these findings:

  • Approximately 42 percent of respondents said they were either thoroughly confused or had only a rough idea about insurance coverage when renting a car.
  • 34 percent of respondents said they purchased the rental company’s insurance just to make sure they were covered.
  • 24 percent of consumers were not sure whether their credit card provided insurance coverage when renting a car.

“Drivers should educate themselves before they reach the auto rental counter,” Dinallo said. “Carefully review your auto insurance policy and check with your credit card issuer about auto insurance benefits. Protect yourself and save money by taking a few precautions and asking the right questions.”

Prior to renting a car, Dinallo recommends that renters ask the following questions:

  • Ask your insurance agent: Are there any situations in which my existing auto policy would not cover a rental car?
  • Ask your credit card company: What are the limitations on rental car coverage?

The New York State Insurance Department’s Consumer Guide to Auto Insurance offers comprehensive information on auto insurance. This free booklet is available by calling the Department at 1-800-342-3736 or visiting the Department’s website at www.ins.state.ny.us.

Car Rental Insurance Tips from the New York State Insurance Department and the NAIC’s Insure U Web Site

  • Review your auto insurance policy or call your insurance agent before you reach the rental car counter.
  • Many credit cards include some level of collision and theft protection. In most cases, these benefits are secondary to your personal auto insurance or the car rental company’s insurance, meaning the credit card company will only pay claims after other insurance coverage has been exhausted. Call your credit card company and ask about benefits.
  • If you lack personal auto insurance and your credit card does not provide benefits, it might be wise to purchase the liability insurance and collision damage waiver at the car rental counter.
  • Keep in mind that if it is a longer-term rental (e.g., a week, a month or more), there might be limitations on the coverage your existing auto insurance policy provides. Check with your insurance company or agent for details.
  • If you don’t own a car, you might want to consider purchasing a non-owner auto insurance policy, because it provides benefits in addition to coverage for a rental car.
  • When traveling on business, a personal auto policy will generally not apply, so check with your employer for guidance.
  • Know that you are not alone if you find car rental insurance confusing. If you are unclear about the car rental insurance options, or are concerned that a rental company is misrepresenting information, check with the New York State Insurance Department at 1-800-342-3736 or www.state.ins.ny.

Get more information about the types of insurance products car rental companies tend to provide, as well as additional auto insurance information by visiting www.InsureUonline.org and the New York State Insurance Department’s website at www.ins.state.ny.us. You can also get extensive information, tips and considerations regarding life, health and home insurance by life stage. The entire site is available in Spanish at www.insureuonline.org/espanol.

ABOUT THE NAIC

Headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) is a voluntary organization of the chief insurance regulatory officials of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories. The NAIC’s overriding objective is to assist state insurance regulators in protecting consumers and helping maintain the financial stability of the insurance industry by offering financial, actuarial, legal, computer, research, market conduct and economic expertise. Formed in 1871, the NAIC is the oldest association of state officials. For more than 135 years, state-based insurance supervision has served the needs of consumers, industry and the business of insurance at-large by ensuring hands-on, frontline protection for consumers, while providing insurers the uniform platforms and coordinated systems they need to compete effectively in an ever-changing marketplace. For more information, visit NAIC at www.naic.org/press_home.htm.

ABOUT THE NEW YORK STATE INSURANCE DEPARTMENT

Established in 1849, the New York State Insurance Department supervises and monitors the financial condition and market conduct of insurers in the state. The Department has responsibility for approving corporate formations, mergers and consolidations of insuring organizations, licensing insurance agents, brokers, adjusters, consultants and reinsurance intermediaries and disciplining licensees who violate the Insurance Law. The Department regulates premium rates and policy forms and provisions, services complaints and inquiries from consumers, administers the affairs of companies that are placed in liquidation or rehabilitation and investigates insurance fraud. For more information, visit www.ins.state.ny.us.

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