If you’re thinking about renting an exotic rental car in Los Angeles, or anywhere for that matter, chances are you have a few questions about the process if it’s your first time renting an exotic car. The process is similar to renting any other car from a major rental company, with a few nuances. Besides the obvious (and humungous) difference in price between a typical rental car and an exotic rental car, the biggest difference is the insurance and your liability.
If you get into an accident in an exotic car, it’s not that simple, and quite frankly can be one of the most frightening experiences imaginable. That is depending on which company you choose to rent with.
It’s extremely important for you to do your research and make sure that whatever company you choose to rent with that they have commercial rental fleet insurance. In fact, if they don’t have commercial rental fleet insurance, they are operating illegally and yes, many small exotic rental car agencies exist without the insurance. Many are operated by foreign individuals or entities who if they shall ever get into a bind can simply flee to their country of origin. But even besides the fact of who the typical owner/management may be, if you rent an exotic car from a company that doesn’t have commercial fleet insurance, you could end up in a lot of trouble that could have been easily avoided.
So what’s the harm in renting with a company that doesn’t have rental fleet insurance? Well, besides the fact that you’re doing business with a company who doesn’t have high ethical standards or standards for operating within the law, if anything goes wrong, you have no way of protecting yourself. If you get into an accident and injure another person you could be completely liable. What happens if you happened to injure a high class brain surgeon in Los Angeles and they decide to file a law suit against the company only to find out that the company doesn’t have commercial fleet insurance? They are going to go after you, the driver.
The way that auto insurance typically works is that it covers you, the driver, while you are driving your car or someone else’s vehicle. 90% of the time most insurance policies will cover up to the full value of the vehicle you are driving, so for instance, if you own a Toyota Prius and rent a Ferrari 458 (~$270,000 value) your insurance will cover you in the event that anything happens ONLY under the condition that the Ferrari is owned by someone you know (e.g., not being rented, so you cannot pay that person to drive it) or if you are renting it from a company WITH COMMERCIAL RENTAL FLEET INSURANCE. If you were to rent a Ferrari and crash it, your insurance would verify that you are renting from a legitimate business with commercial rental fleet insurance and cover you. However, if they were to verify that you rented with a company that did not have commercial rental fleet insurance, you would not be covered and you would have to pay for any damages and liability out of pocket. Best case scenario if you crashed a Ferrari 458? Probably $15,000 in damages (e.g., bumper replacement). Worst case scenario? You total the vehicle and have to pay $270,000 and you injure someone else and you have to pay all their medical expenses and punitive damages. Not really worth the risk, is it?
So how do you verify that a company has commercial fleet insurance? One might think that it would be as simple as calling the company and asking them. But, pretty much every exotic rental car agency knows that they are required to have the proper insurance so if you call them and ask them if they have commercial rental fleet insurance, chances are they are going to say, “Yes, we have it” regardless of it being true or not. The point is, companies without commercial rental fleet insurance will lie. Let’s face it, they are operating illegally, so what’s to stop them from doing one more unethical thing and lie about it?
The only sure way to provide proof that a company has commercial rental fleet insurance is to ask for a copy of their commercial fleet insurance policy or to speak with their insurance agent. Obtaining commercial rental fleet insurance is very, very difficult, making it hard for anyone to just start an exotic rental car agency, hence why many companies operate illegally, so for the companies that are legitimate and do have the proper insurance, chances are they won’t share with anyone who their provider is, which is fine. You don’t necessarily need to know who their insurance provider is, but in California it is required that a company deal with an agent who represents the insurance company and so you can speak with their agent. (Just make sure that you can actually Google the number and it’s not just their friend’s phone number). Also, make sure to ask specifically if the policy is “Commercial RENTAL Fleet Insurance” not just “Commercial Insurance” or “Business Liability Insurance”. For instance, we called Elite Dream Cars and they let us speak to their State Farm agent (who by default never has and does not offer commercial rental fleet insurance) and their agent told us that they have commercial insurance because their vehicles are registered to their business and under business/commercial insurance, but they do not have commercial rental fleet insurance and that all renters must provide their own insurance. Lesson learned: Rent with Elite Dream Cars at your OWN RISK.
So what if an exotic rental car agency says that they require all renters to provide their own insurance? Don’t worry. That’s actually completely normal. Most commercial rental fleet insurance providers require this as part of their policy. Even “Hertz Dream Cars” which is a big brand and well known company, requires renters of their exotic fleet to provide their own insurance. In fact, if an exotic rental car agency tries to charge you additional insurance when you already have your own, chances are they don’t even have commercial fleet insurance. For instance, we investigated LA Exotics, LLC and they said that they charge a daily insurance fee and said that they do have commercial insurance, but after a little more digging we found that they do not have commercial RENTAL fleet insurance.
The point is, plan on being able to use your own insurance. If your insurance does not transfer to the exotic rental vehicle or you are an international renter and do not have U.S. coverage, you can still purchase an insurance policy as if you own the vehicle you are renting, but most insurance companies will not insure less than a 1 month policy, so for example if you rented a Lamborghini Gallardo, a typical 1 month policy would be $400 plus a $200 one time broker fee, making the policy $600. This isn’t bad if you plan on renting more than a couple days, but for a 1 day rental it is pretty pricey.
To make it a lot easier for you, we did all this research for you and listed all the exotic rental car companies in Los Angeles who have commercial rental fleet insurance and those that don’t. The problem is that there are so many small exotic rental car companies popping up all over, so our list may not include every company. If there’s a company not on our list, let us know and we will do the research for you! Check out the list right here: Rental Car Agency Reviews.
To make a long story short:
1. Don’t ever rent an exotic car from a company without commercial RENTAL fleet insurance
2. Verify a company’s rental fleet insurance by speaking with their agent or asking for a copy of their policy
3. Commercial insurance, Commercial fleet insurance, or Business liability insurance DO NOT WORK. Only Commercial Rental Fleet Insurance is legitimate
4. Plan on having to provide your own auto insurance for coverage, or purchase a 1 month policy through an outside insurance agent
5. If in doubt, don’t rent. It’s not worth saving a few bucks (or even a few hundred) to put yourself in a situation that could potentially cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars