Rental Car Insurance: Know Before You Go

Not sure if you need that insurance the rental car company offers you? The rental car companies will try to make as much money off of you as possible (through insurance policies and various “administrative” and “convenience” fees). Beware. Chances are you’re already covered and purchasing that damage or accident waiver will be a huge waste of money.

Personal Auto Insurance Policy

If you own a car and have an auto insurance policy, you’re likely already covered on a rental vehicle. Do your homework. You need to know what and how much your insurance policy covers. Call your insurance company and make sure you are covered for damage/theft/loss of use/personal injury while using the rental car.

It may turn out that you have adequate coverage and don’t need to purchase any extra insurance. If not, you should consider increasing your insurance coverage to cover rental vehicles. By doing so, you may still save money compared to the policy offered by the rental company in the event of an accident. To make an informed decision, you must know what your personal auto insurance policy covers with respect to liability when driving a rental car.

Credit Card Coverage?

Some credit cards offer rental car insurance policies. If you have a credit card, check with your card’s service department to see if they offer such coverage. Coverage by credit card companies tends to be more limited than a standard auto insurance policy. For example, most credit card rental insurance policies do not cover personal injury. Some only offer damage waivers. You may also be limited to renting certain types of vehicles and will have to use the card to pay for the rental car. If you’re relying on a credit card policy, you might need to supplement the coverage.

Other ways to save:

Read the rental agreement. You’ll likely find that it requires you to return the car with a full tank of gas. The rental agent may offer to fill up the tank for you upon your return, for a discounted gas price, but they usually charge you a hefty convenience fee for this service. You’re likely better off filling up the tank on your own.

Opt out of add-ons. If you have a smart phone, there is no need to pay for GPS in a rental car because you can access GPS on your own.

Finally, return your car to the same location you picked it up. It can cost hundreds to return to a different location. Renting from an airport location is typically more expensive. If you can, try renting from other locations.

Before you rent a car, do some research. Know the source and scope of insurance you do (or do not) have. Know exactly what terms you are agreeing to. Be wary of additional services that are advertised as convenient or complimentary. You could end up saving hundreds of dollars on your rental car.

How to File a Complaint with the CFPB

The CFBP Platform

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) was created by the Dodd-Frank Act after the financial crisis to protect consumers from unfair lending and finance practices. Specifically, the Dodd-Frank Act required the CFPB to receive and resolve consumer complaints.

The CFPB has recently launched their online dispute resolution platform where consumers can submit complaints regarding financial products and services including, but not limited to:

  • Mortgages
  • Credit cards
  • Debt collectors
  • Credit reporting agencies
  • Bank accounts
  • Money transfers
  • Payday loans
  • Student loans
  • Vehicle loans
  • Other consumer loans

Additionally, if a consumer wishes to not file a complaint but merely to share their story, the platform provides them the opportunity to do so.

How it works

The process is very simple. A consumer will simply select “Submit a Complaint” from the main page, describe the underlying issue, and specify their desired resolution. Next, the consumer will provide the company or creditor’s information, their personal information, and attach any relevant documentation. Once the complaint has been submitted, the CFPB will forward the complaint to the company for a response.

The company will review the complaint, communicate with the consumer as needed, and report back to the CFPB about the steps taken. Complaint data is shared with state and federal law enforcement agencies to better enforce federal laws and promulgate new laws to protect consumers.

Will I actually win my complaint?

While there is no guarantee that you will win your complaint, this enhanced and streamlined process may improve your chances for several reasons. First, the company will be working with federal regulators that have greater bargaining power than most consumers do. Second, the process ensures that your complaint gets to the right people at the company. Third, dispositions will be shared with other consumers- thus increasing transparency and protecting future consumers from unfair practices.

To see complaints submitted to the CFPB and consumers’ success on their complaints, click here.

What happens to the data that I give the CFPB?

The complaint data is shared with state and federal agencies, as well as with congress twice a year. The data is analyzed to help supervise companys’ practices, enforce laws, and write new laws. The data is published in the Consumer Complaint Database. No personal information is published including your name, contact information, account numbers, social security number, etc.

I want to file my complaint, now!

Just click here!

If you would prefer to speak with someone at the CFPB about your complaint, call 1-855-411-2372

If you do not have a complaint, but want to let the CFPB know about potential violations of federal consumer financial laws, you can email them or call 1-855-695-7974.

Have You Ever Lost Your Wallet? What To Do When It Happens To You

Have you ever lost your wallet? I most certainly have. I recently lost my wallet while traveling, and I had to go through the whole process of calling credit card companies, calling my bank, filing a police report, and dealing with different law enforcement agencies.

The process is actually fairly complex. When relating my story to the police and various TSA agents, I had to go through a list of everything important in my wallet: credit cards, cash, driver’s license, and etc. It made me realize how much very personal information we keep on our persons on an everyday basis. So what do you do when you lose your credit card?

I found a very helpful checklist on the website for the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions:

1. File a Police Report

2. Notify your bank

3. Cancel all of your credit cards immediately

4. Notify major credit reporting agencies

5. A few weeks after the loss or theft, get a copy of your credit report to determine if

fraudulent transactions have been made in your name


These are all important steps. I’d like to give a little bit of advice on each one and include some personal tips that I have had the misfortune of needing to learn.


1. File a Police Report.

Contact the police department in the city where you lost your wallet. Some cities, such as Denver, have an online police form that you can fill out.

Make sure to keep a copy of your case number so that you can track whether the report was actually received. Keeping a copy of your report is also important for several reasons. Some states (like Illinois) will allow you to obtain a new driver’s license for less if you bring in a copy of the police report and meet certain other conditions. Definitely make sure that you know what your individual state’s policy is on replacement licenses so that you have the necessary documentation on hand.

2. Notify your bank.

If you happened to have a debit card or checks in your wallet, it is a good idea to notify your bank so that they can flag your account and issue a new debit card. You should try to report the loss as soon as possible to limit your liability.

It is a good idea to have an account statement on hand with your account number ready. If not, it isn’t a huge problem. Most local banks are willing to work with you, but I have found that it makes it easier to get through the various automated prompts. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is a useful resource for figuring out some of the laws that govern how much you can be held liable for if you lose your debit card. Under federal law, you are only liable for up to $50 if you notify your bank of your lost debit card within two days of the loss.

3. Cancel all of your credit cards immediately.

By cancelling your credit cards as soon as possible, you help prevent fraudulent charges if someone else tries to use your credit card after it has been lost. Under the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) you are only liable for unauthorized credit card use up to the amount of $50. However, if you cancel as soon as possible, you can avoid liability entirely by canceling before anyone can make fraudulent charges. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) outlines some helpful tips for dealing with lost credit cards and for protecting your personal account information.

If you need to cancel your credit card, try to have the account number on hand (although this isn’t absolutely necessary). If you call the customer service number for your credit card company, a representative can usually help direct you to their fraud departments to report the loss. Different companies have different policies for how long it will take to mail you a replacement card, so it is a good idea to have a spare card at home if you are used to relying on credit cards. If you have a replacement card at home, you won’t be left high and dry when you lose your wallet.

4. Notify Major Credit Reporting Agencies

If you notify major credit reporting agencies in advance, it can help protect you from the negative consequences of fraudulent credit card transactions.

Your credit report is important because many lenders use it in determining whether you are qualified for certain loans.

Three of the major credit reporting agencies are:

  • Equifax
  • Experian
  • TransUnion

5. A few weeks after the loss or theft, get a copy of your credit report to determine if fraudulent transactions have been made in your name

***Make sure that you only contact the major credit reporting agencies through for a Free Credit Report. You can also only get a free credit report once every twelve months.***

For more information on credit reports visit the FTC’s website here.

You can also find more information on the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau’s website here.


I know that it is a hassle to go through the process of cancelling cards and filing police reports, but it is important for your financial safety. The best tip that I can offer is to try to take care of everything as soon as possible (It will help minimize your liability risk).

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