Ok- obviously not art related at all, but I’ve looked all over the internet and couldn’t find anything helpful so I thought it might be useful information to put out there.

As some of you know, we are using the car crash as a cue and trying out life without owning a car.  Unfortunately, we are not people who don’t need a car at all and so we have been using City Car Share as well as renting cars about 3 days a month.  We’re also renting a car for 5 weeks to drive to and around Utah.

We also just learned a couple things about renting a car in California:

1. It’s illegal to drive a car without liability insurance

2. Car rental companies here do not include any state-required liability insurance into the base price of their rental cars.  Apparently, California, from what I have read, is the only state where this does not happen.  So, if you live in another state and have been buying liability insurance through your rental company, you should know that what you are buying replaces and adds on to what is already included in your rate.  I would still check with your specific company to find out if this is true, but it seems to be.  We use our credit card for our collision insurance.  Again, you still need to check with your credit card to find out what your terms are because they vary a lot.  We use Amex Blue (which we specifically got for it’s good rental car coverage)

So- 5 weeks of buying insurance at $13 a day is a lot.  What other options are out there, you ask?  Well, there are Named Non-Owner policies.  These policies are for people who drive either rentals or other people’s cars.  It is an insurance plan for the person, not the car.  However, you can only do this for cars that you do not own.

The plans seem to range in price quite a bit. So everyone knows: these plans are for two drivers with clean records who have had their licenses for 14 years (ack- oldness).  These plans are just for liability insurance.

Geico, to be fair, were the people who even told me that these plans existed and though I owe them that debt, I am not going with their plan.  (I was calling around seeing if I could get “temporary insurance” for the 5 weeks we would have the car – the answer is universally “no” just so everyone knows.  But, you can open a new policy and then cancel it- though it is hard to do when you have absolutely no information about the car you will be driving.)  They offered a 6 month plan for the two of us for $186.80.  Not terrible.  But, you can’t drive one car or be a regular user of one car for more than 30 days.  She offered that to get around this, we would just have to get two different contracts from the rental company.  That seemed unlikely.

Travelers insurance seemed incompetent and though they offered the policy, the woman on the other end of the line didn’t seem to understand it, forcing me to tell her what type of car I would be driving though I am renting and don’t know.  They never even got back to me with a quote after being on the phone with them for 45 min.

Progressive makes you go through a local agent, so I called Wayne at D Star Insurance in Oakland.  (OMG I thought he was awesome, but just found their website. He looks awesome too.) Wayne was very nice and told me about the rental car policies in other states.  He mistakenly believed that it was also true in our state, but I found out with a little research that that is not the case.  Progressive seems to be the most expensive option.  For a 6 month policy for just one of us it was $381.  If we wanted to cancel after the 5 weeks, it would be a $50 fee.  He included in the quote medical and uninsured motorists, which added $118.  Without that it would still be $263 for 6 months for just one of us.

AAA, our old car insurance and our current renters insurance policyholder, won out in the end.  Though I called them first, they didn’t tell me about the Named Non-Owner policies.  Then I thought I wouldn’t go with them as they only have 1 year policies.  But then they gave me a quote for just one of us and it was $141 for the year.  After learning about the other plans out there and the problems they posed, I confirmed that they do not have a cancellation fee and they have no limit on the number of days you drive the car, as long as it is not registered to your name. When I called to sign up, I found out that to add Oliver, it was just $4. For the year. So that turned out great. Hooray!

So, if you rent a car once a month in California and usually buy liability insurance through the rental company, I’d advise this plan.  It is less per month than one time of buying insurance on a car.