No matter how many times I travel for business, there are always new things to learn. Because I travel for a living, I often get asked to share these experiences with fellow travelers. One of the topics I get asked about is car rental tips and whether to get insurance.  

Some people don't realize that there are different types of coverage and that their credit card may come with what they need. Additionally, business travelers may unintentionally add hundreds of dollars to their rental vehicle bill if they are unclear about what they may already be covered with. Here is a guide to what to look for when renting a vehicle for business travel.

The Four Main Types of Car Rental Insurance

It's important for travelers to understand that there are four main types of insurance when renting a vehicle. If you don't have primary auto insurance, you should consider investing in traveler's insurance. Because you are traveling for business, check with your employer to see if there is any company coverage.

Government employees, including military and postal service workers, are often covered when traveling for business. However, check with employers to be sure. Also, some of the best travel credit cards 2019 can cover you.

You may find that your personal or credit card insurance is enough to cover any incidents while on a business trip, provided that you pay for your rental with the applicable credit card. If you don't have either, let your employer know.

Collision or Loss Damage Waiver (CDW) is a waiver that says the rental company will waive some or all of the fees if the rental is damaged or stolen. However, if the vehicle was damaged because it was driven recklessly, was driven by someone not on the agreement, or other variables, the CDW will be void. This coverage is also known as Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) or Physical Damage Waiver (PDW).

You may already have this coverage with your primary auto insurance or with your credit card. However, there is likely a deductible and no guarantee that all of the costs will be covered. Additionally, your credit card may only come with secondary coverage, meaning that claims will go to your insurance provider first who will determine what they will pay.

From there, the credit card that you used to pay for the rental can help pay the difference. If you don't have a primary insurance provider, your credit card may become your primary provider, though this may have limitations. I highly recommend checking with both your primary auto insurance provider and your credit card issuer to learn the specifics on what you have.

Supplemental Liability Protection (SLP) is coverage to damage of other people's vehicles or properties and any medical costs for people involved in an accident caused by you. Note that all states in the U.S. require this insurance. Unless you have a rare vehicle, you should be covered. However, when renting a vehicle abroad, you will likely have to purchase this coverage.

Personal Effects Coverage (PEC) covers the theft of possessions from a vehicle that you are renting, up to a certain amount. Most people will not need to purchase this insurance, as their personal insurance likely covers most travelers. However, if you're traveling with high-value items, you may want to consider your options.

Personal Accident Insurance (PAI) is the coverage of the rental car driver and passengers in the event of an accident. Medical assistance (including an ambulance) is usually covered as well as assistance should there be a fatality. You likely don't need to purchase this insurance, as your personal health or life insurance would cover this. However, if traveling abroad, having emergency travel insurance for such instances may be a worthy investment.  

Other Factors to Consider

If you are under 25, you may have to pay more. However, you may be able to negotiate a waiver of additional fees since you are traveling for work.

When driving abroad, your protections may not work. You may also need an international driver's license. Plan ahead.

If you are traveling with more than one person, keep the costs down by designating one person to be the authorized driver. Also, fill the tank yourself before returning the vehicle to save money. Otherwise, you risk paying double for gas.

Additionally, if applicable, ask how they charge for toll roads. Be prepared to pay with cash to avoid any hassle. Also, be aware that any extra add-on items like satellite radio or certain Bluetooth capabilities may come at an extra cost.

Finally, consider renting a vehicle outside of the airport area. As convenient as it may be, there are often extra fees tacked onto vehicles rented at the airport. Be sure to check the business hours, though, as they may be limited.

Published on: Jun 28, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.