The two basic options that are usually available for purchase from a car rental company in North America are coverages for collision - CDW and for loss/theft - LDW.
Some rental companies offer only collision coverage or CDW on vehicles at a lower price than Loss Damage Waiver.
Note: a collision waiver will not cover theft of the vehicle. A loss damage waiver does. Both options do require that you are complying with all terms and conditions listed on your rental agreement * also, make sure to check with your preferred rent a car vendor to see if coverage on tires (think flat tires, or a blown tire) would be included.
Check first: You may already be covered for
LDW through your credit card.
Read more about Car Rental Credit Card Coverages
You may also have some coverage
through your own personal automobile insurance.
Read more about Personal Auto Insurance Coverage
One of the benefits of purchasing CDW or LDW for car rentals is that any claims made will not affect your own insurance premiums.
LDW relieves you and your authorized additional drivers of financial responsibility for a rental vehicle damaged by accident, vandalism or theft provided you have complied with the terms of your rental agreement. This Waiver usually costs between $15 and $30 per day.
Note: LDW may not be available in all areas with all companies. Check with your rental location.
Buying LDW coverage from the car rental companies can be expensive. It can sometimes cost more than the base rate per day on the rental!
You may also be able to get rental car collision insurance as part of a travel insurance package. Make sure to check all terms and conditions of coverage to make sure that it fits your car rental needs.
The bottom line is check into everything!!
If you don’t need to purchase the optional coverages from rental car companies you will certainly save money, but only if you are truly covered.
If you're renting a car outside the US or Canada, coverage offers (and rental insurance in general) are usually very different. Make sure to carefully check policies for your individual rental car company location.