car rental insurance facts/questions
After much investigation....I am very surprised to find out most if not all insurance companies in the continental united states do not cover rentals in the us virgin islands. It looks like my other options are pay the collision insurance through the rental agencies $12.00 a day plus if we are in a accident then we also have a $1500. deductable. I have investigated the credit cards that offer rental insurance coverage, but they are not for liability only for thefts, cost of days the car is not usable for the rental agency and things like that. What does everybody else do when they rent a car in the islands?????
Wow! Ignorance is bliss? Now I'm going to have to verify that what we've been doing has us covered or exposed.
I can personally confirm that Mastercard Gold -does- cover in the VI. It is a very slow process made even slower by the VI (waited 6 months for a police report that was never sent before MC gave up and processed everything). The rental company was frustrated and very, very rude to me taking out their frustration on me (only contact being a threating letters when matters were completely out of my hands) but other than speed and threats it worked rather seemlessly.
Get in accident (Jan 2009 in my case)
Wait for police
Fill out accident reports, etc
Report accident to rental company -- I filled out a form upon turning the car back in.
Report accident to MasterCard (1-800-MCASSIST)
Send in required paperwork (I can't find the original letter of what that was but IIRC it was just the rental agreement, CC statement with the rental, and my current insurance proving I don't have comprehensive)
Wait for rental company to turn in their paperwork
Wait forever for police to turn in their paperwork before giving up.
Claim is paid.
My final cost -- $0. Total bill -- $4000ish.
There was some hair pulling so factor in your peace of mind and the potential for lost rental days -- it may not be covered. This also isn't a promise your CC covers it, I double checked all before opting to not buy the insurance.
[edit: remembered some more details]
I'm wondering about my insurance coverage also now. Artifact, were you in an accident with another person where you would have needed liability as well??
My CC will cover the comprehensive part of it but they do not offer liability and the only way I can get liability coverage is to rent it through the car rental company.
Any input you can give me would be greatly appreciated.
American Express is now offering a Premium Rental Insurance Plan for $24.95 per rental (not per day) that purports to take all the worry out. I'll probably use it and hope I never need to find out how good it is.
Everyone's info has been interesting. I see I have probably opened up some eyes. I know how shocked I was to find out. I hope I didn't ruin any-ones vacation. I have made calls to our credit card companies, Triple A and a few others. What I found out is they will cover everything except liability insurance. I have came to the conclusion that we will be covered under a credit card policy as long we don't have an accident with another vehicle that is our fault that causes damage to their vehicle.
Has the American Express been verified on the coverage. If you read the plan, it states that the rental must be from a regular commercial agency. Do the local jeep rentals on STJ qualify? It also mentions the exclusion of "off-road" vehicles. Are the island jeeps considered off-road?
We are going in June.
I don't know about what is considered "regular commercial agencies". I did check it out as far as the liablity and it does not cover it.
Artifact, were you in an accident with another person
Oh, that was just me being an idiot and no one else involved. So I guess I can't positively verify liability :(.
One thing about your own personal insurance - often the agent is not really sure or just "assumes" that the USVI is not covered. It's like they just hear "'St. Somewhere" and don't know that the USVI is a U.S. Territory. If you can't find your policy to verify coverage in the US Territories call the company's main customer service number and ask to speak to an Underwriter and ask the question again. You may get a different answer and find you DO have liability coverage - especially with State Farm. Allstate, and Farmer's.
And, just my findings after researching these cc coverages: I have yet to find one that covers liability, not even the AMEX premium coverage. They are great for damage, maybe a bit of medical for the driver and passenger (not the person you hit) and coverage for the time the rental is out of service but that's about it. If anyone finds one, please post the particulars.
My State Farm insurance policy includes USVI. It is the same level of insurance I have in the US. It does not cover the loss of revenue the car rental company may claim by not having the use of the vehicle.
Liberty Mutual covers my St. Thomas rental at the same level as my own car. It's the same as Randy's State Farm policy in not covering the rental company's loss of use if the car's in an accident.
I also have State Farm insurance. When I first called they said they were covered, but when I called back and made sure they knew where St John was and they were out of the continental US then they were unsure. So they (State Farm) did some checking and made phone calls and then said the US territories were not covered. I am going to see if I can find a main # for State Farm and will double check. I am sure hoping you are right and I am wrong.
My agent stated US territories were covered and even stated that the first 50 miles into Mexico was covered. May vary by state as well as State Farm has several insurance entities.
I have State Farm and it covers the rental vehicle just like my own, there is a time limit as to how long they will do that, they only item that you might want to conisder is a rider that covers the rental companies lost of use of the vehicle if it is in the shop.
The deductible and all the limits are the same as I have on my own vehicle.
You guys are correct. I finally talked to someone at State Farm that knew what they were talking about. We are covered just like our own vehicle in the state of Indiana. We are going to get a temporary rider to cover the loss of use of the vehicle if we were in an accident. It only costs an extra $5.00 for the time we are there.
My vacation is looking up once again...... Thanks for everyone's input!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
After 7 trips to St. John, I have also recently discovered that there is not much coverage provided. Previously, I had Allstate and I think they would have covered me there. But now I have Auto Owners. They told me no once, but per your suggestion I am having them double check. I called their main office, and they didn't want to check it out for me. They directed me back to the main office. However, I did call the Virgin Islands Office of the Director of Insurance in St. Thomas. The woman was very nice. She had to check with someone else and then came back with this info: by law the rental company has to cover 10,000 per person bodily injury/25,000per accident and 10,000 property damage. Of course, this would hardly be helpful if two cars were damaged or someone was badly hurt. This coverage is a drop in the bucket if someone decides to sue you. I also had checked the extra policy from Amex, and yes, there does not seem to be any liability. So, if anyone comes up with some good rental car liablity insurance for St. John. Still have to check my visa and mastercards.
Late today I found out that my new Auto Owners policy is going to cover me in St. John.
OK...Here is the scoop directly from Allstate:
For Allstate policy holders, the US Virgin Islands are covered as a "policy territory". As long as you have full coverage (Comprehensive, Collision, etc.), there is no need for any additional rider. It is suggested, however, that you take a copy of your Insurance ID Card, just in case the rental company wants to see it.
I'm going sleep better now that this is one less thing to worry about.
You guys really stirred things up!
I think the additional "rider" is to cover the time the rental car may be out of service. Our State Farm policy covers us in the USVI just as we are covered at home but it does NOT provide for reimbursement to the rental car company for the time their vehicle is being repaired and won't be earning for them. For that, we have our MasterCard - when we use that for the rental we have some additional coverages that include this out of service recovery coverage for the rental car company. Other insurance companies may sell a "rider" to provide this coverage for a limited time and that's another way to go then using the insurance provided on the gold/platinum Visas and MCs or buying the Amex policy.
It's interesting to read this question come up over and over on the forums and to read that some folks assume that they are getting full coverage through the credit card companies. Not all coverages are created equal - or something like that - and liability coverage is pretty important.
Many insurance companies exclude vehicles operated abroad. If YOU read the policy coverage areas most also state coverage applies in US Territories and also while commuting with vehicle between the Territories. Also as and extra level of protection if you have an American Express Card you can purchase Primary Collision and passenger liability coverage for up to 42 days rental for $24.95. This is separate and different from the normal rental coverage provided by Credit Card Companies which is secondary Ins. and kicks in AFTER your own auto ins. The fee is charged when the rental occurs. You need to sign up for this option with AMEX. It's really great Primary coverage for the money. Check it out.
I HAVE checked out this AMEX policy and it is only primary coverage for damage or theft, if you choose to use it and not file a claim with your regular insurance company. It covers NO LIABILITY for someone or something you may hit. This is right from the Amex link provided and it lists what this policy covers and the key phrase here is "for you and your passengers" -(and, for your passengers, this is a drop in the bucket if someone is seriously hurt). There is NOTHING in this policy to cover the person or vehicle you may hit (liability) or extensive coverage for medical for you or your passengers.
Coverage (for you and your passengers)
Up to $100,000 of primary coverage for damage or theft of a Rental Car.
Up to $100,000 of Accidental Death or Dismemberment coverage.
Up to $15,000 for excess medical expenses.
I'm not willing to drive without liability coverage. What others do depends on how much personal risk they are willing to assume. But, let's not give people a false sense of security that they are getting liability coverage through any credit card policy - free, or for $24.95.
I posted the link so people like you could check for themselves. If you read the entire post it clearly states "passenger Liability". I don't believe that is misleading to most folks. I still feel this is a good option in lieu of the rental car company damage waivers which I might also add is not a Liability coverage for other vehicles or persons passengers or otherwise. I do agree that liability coverage is a must and if your own policy does not cover you than you should purchase coverage which some or most rental agencies offer. I would again suggest that people carefully read their own auto policy and check coverage areas and then the exclusions section. Your own risk assessment will then dictate what you should purchase in addition or in lieu of. Keep in mind that "Loss Of Use" charges can become very significant, especially on Island. Should you severely damage or total a vehicle they will bill you the going daily rate for each and every day the car is out of service. Just think what that could add up to if they had to order a replacement and have it shipped in. Now is that worth the $24.95 for you entire rental period up to 42 days? When on Island I feel I am largely in control of how I operate a vehicle. What I have no control over is how others drive on the road and in parking areas. One must way the odds and make an informed decision. I believe you can purchase enough insurance to cover any eventuality but the costs may well make renting a car ridiculous. Taxi's would be a far better bet in that regard. Just my opinion of course.
I still have cars in the US which my daughters drive, and I have two down here.
My US cars are with ALLSTATE and Allstate does indeed extend to the USVI.
But take note: If you have Liability Only on your stateside vehicle with Allstate, then Allstate will over extend liability coverage on your rental vehicle down here. Thus, if YOU cause the accident in your rental vehicle, you will have to pay for the damage.
Another USVI Insurance oddity:
Also in the USVI, if my college age Allstate insured daughter visits and drives my St. Croix insured car, my St Croix insurance does not automatically cover her. I must add her to the policy for a fee.
Insurance companies down here do not extend coverage to family members under the age of 26. "Underage" drivers must be separately insured. (In the states, Allstate and other car policies routinely add your children to the policy with the same coverages as mom and dad. ) Thus, if my Allstate insured daughter who only has Allstate's liability insurance on her stateside "college beater" comes down and cracks up my car -which is insured by an island insurance agency, my island insurance will not pay anything, and Allstate will only pay liability, not comprehensive (damages caused by the insured). Instead, I must purchase a "temporary" insurance policy to cover my daughter when she's down here and wants to drive my car. Costs about $75 a year. This is still cheaper than paying for full coverage with Allstate on her college beater.