Consumer advice: Do you need to buy car rental insurance?

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Anytime you rent a car you can bet the agent will ask if youíd like to purchase Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) or Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) coverage. These add-ons can cost between $10 and $30 per day, so for a several-day car rental these fees can really add up. When you consider that the agent gets compensated on the value of what they can up-sell you, itís no wonder they get downright pushy about selling this coverage.

So do you really need to purchase the car rental companyís insurance? It might surprise you to know that you could be covered through either your personal car insurance or credit card benefits. In many cases, the coverage you have on your own car extends to a rental car. Either read the fine print in your policy or call your agent to find out what coverage you have.

Furthermore, if youíre traveling abroad or donít have insurance coverage, check the benefits your credit card offers. Many cards offer some rental car protection but the coverage is secondary to your personal car insurance in the U.S. However, it is primary internationally, except in countries excluded from coverage.

Some credit cards offer rental insurance as primary coverage, even if you have your own car insurance. This could be a good perk because if youíre in an accident, you wonít have to file a claim with your auto insurer.

Many consumers arenít sure which credit cards offer the best protection. Not knowing could be costing you hundreds of dollars. I checked my credit cards and found one is superior in terms of coverage, so next time I rent a car Iíll be sure to use that card.

And make sure if youíre counting on the coverage that you follow the rules specifically when renting the car. For example, you must decline the rental car insurance and in many instances the entire rental bill must be charged on the credit card, not just part of the bill. Also, check the rules if you use points to ďpayĒ for the rental.

One area of coverage worth exploring in detail is loss of use coverage. This is the amount a car rental company can recover from you in the event youíre in an accident and the car is taken out of service to be fixed. Policies I reviewed had varying coverages.

Suffice it to say that it isnít possible to detail the different car insurance coverages and credit card company benefits in this column, so the next time you need to rent a car, it would be worth checking out your own benefits before you pay for something you donít need.

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BLOCKING UNWANTED CALLS, LANDLINE EDITION: Iíve been writing about ways to block robocalls on cellphones but didnít have any useful tips to consumers with landlines ó until now.

One way to stop unwanted calls on your landline is to activate a feature called Anonymous Call Rejection. You can do this by pressing *77 on your home phone.

By turning on this feature, it will intercept calls from numbers that choose not to reveal their caller ID information. From your home phone, lift the receiver and listen for a dial tone. Then press *77 and listen for a confirmation tone. Thatís how you know the feature is working.

So now when an anonymous caller tries to reach you, two things happen: On your end, your phone wonít ring. On the callerís end, anonymous callers who press *67 to mask their number will hear an automated voice informing them that their call canít go through as dialed.

Even then, some calls will get through, like operator-assisted calls, calls that come up as Unknown or Unavailable, or calls that are listed as Out-of-Area. Anonymous Call Rejections will remain activated until you turn it off. Hereís how: On your landline, lift the receiver and listen for the dial tone. Then press *87 and listen for a confirmation tone. When you hear it, the feature has been deactivated.

Unfortunately, there isnít a guarantee that you can activate the feature on your phone but you wonít know for sure unless you try. I wasnít able to check it out because I no longer have a landline. Note: Do not press *77 from your mobile phone because this code could summon emergency officials. This tip is for landlines only.

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Remember: Iím on your side.

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If you have encountered a consumer issue that you have questions about or think our readers should know about, please send me an email at terridickersonadvocate@gmail.com or call me at 208-274-4458. As The CDA Press Consumer Gal, Iím here to help. Please include your name and a phone number or email. Iím a fulltime copywriter working with businesses on marketing, a columnist and a consumer advocate living in Coeur díAlene.

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