You're at the car rental counter in the airport and you need to find a convertible for the weekend - for business, of course. "No problem," says the sales rep. However, before she hands you the keys, she asks if you'd like additional Physical Damage coverage. This leaves you with a conundrum: Should you pay the extra money or trust your own insurance?

Although your Business Auto policy will probably cover you for liability on the business rental, coverage for damage to the rental vehicle is often subject to a myriad of conflicting provisions. You might have this coverage under your Business Auto coverage, your Personal Auto insurance, or even the credit card that you used to pay for the rental. Then again, depending on the situation, it's also possible that none of them will pay very much.

If coverage applies under any of the above, there will still be exclusions and limitations. To make things even more confusing, some states have laws that limit your responsibility for damage to the rental car.

Here are a few tips to help cut through this confusion:

  1. Rent from a reputable company. The national car rental firms tend to have standardized contracts with tested language. Local or smaller firms might have developed their own contracts - and without legal assistance it might be nearly impossible to determine exactly what you've agreed to.

  2. When in doubt, ask. The person at the rental counter might be unsure what they're selling, so be sure to ask to speak to someone who can clearly explain what you are and are not responsible for. If you're unsure, walk away.

  3. Talk with us before your trip. We'd be happy to explain your options.
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