7 On Your Side investigates rental car insurance fees

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When you're renting a car and are asked if you want rental insurance, 7 On Your Side looks at what the best answer is for that question.

7 On Your Side investigates what happened, and the fine print you should read before signing a car rental agreement.

It's a question we inevitably get every time we rent a car -- would you like to purchase rental car insurance with that? One Oakland woman, Lynn Coles, refused it, but was charged for insurance anyway. So she called 7 On Your Side for help.

There was no doubt in Coles' mind that she did not want or need rental car insurance. That's why she was surprised when it showed up on her credit card statement.

Coles looked over her rental car bill and among the charges was more than $400 for rental car insurance. She recalls an agent at the Firefly rental counter going down a list of insurances she could buy.

Coles said to the agent, "I have insurance. Why do I need your extra insurance?"

She knew her rental car would be covered under her own auto insurance policy. She also had additional coverage from her credit card.

Jeff Blyskal is a senior editor with Consumer Reports. He said, "Your credit card provides additional insurance protection for things that your personal insurance may not cover."

One thing Blyskal says many credit cards cover that your personal insurance won't is loss of use of the car. Your own insurance will pay for any damage to the rental vehicle, but your credit card may cover any charges from loss of use while the rental vehicle is being repaired. Each credit card is different, so check with your issuer.

Coles said her rental car agent was persistent. She said, "I said, 'I don't need it' and she said, 'Well I still have to ask you anyway.' So she went through everything and I kept seeing her check, check, check."

She says she signed the agreement, but acknowledges she didn't read it in its entirety.

Blyskal says the rental car fine print can be long, but says you have to read it.

7 ON Your Side contacted Hertz, the parent company of Firefly. It told us by email, "We apologize for Ms. Coles' experience and have reversed the charges for the optional services.

We are investigating the details of Ms. Coles' rental and will conduct additional training with our employees at the location as appropriate."

Coles says she is grateful that the company understands what's going on and that she didn't have to pay those fees.

Firefly says anyone else who feels they've been charged inappropriately should notify customer service.
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