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Customers wait in line at a Hertz rental car counter at San Jose International Airport in San Jose, Calif., in this 2011 file photo.

Paul Sakuma/AP Photo

Yesterday I paid $19.99 plus tax for insurance when I rented a car as I have no personal car insurance. Crazy me, I now believe. I hold a TD Visa Infinite First Class card - not a premium card. Any thoughts? -- B., Toronto

That 20 bucks a day is probably cheaper than replacing a totalled Chevy Spark. But before you get the collision damage waiver, check to see what's already covered by your credit card and your car insurance.

"Do you homework, find out where you have the most coverage," says Anne Marie Thomas, business development manager at Insurancehotline.com. "Your credit card might cover damage to the automobile but it will not cover liability."

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Your credit card might automatically give you coverage, as long as you used it to pay for the car rental. If your card doesn't, they might let you buy additional coverage for an annual fee. We checked with TD: your card will protect you against "loss arising from damage to the rental car of most rentals in North America and many foreign countries."

Look at the fine print in your credit card agreement, Thomas says.

"There might be a limit on what they'll cover," she says. "If it's $50,000, that may not cover the car you rented."

And, certain types of rental vehicles, such as cargo vans, may not be covered.

If you already have car insurance

If you do have car insurance, check that it covers damage to a rental vehicle. And, again, see how much damage it covers.

"It's optional so you have to purchase it from your insurance company," Thomas says.

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In Ontario, you have to buy an OPCF 27 waiver, which covers damage to a car you don't own. It's only valid in Canada and the U.S., so if you're driving somewhere else, you'll need to buy extra insurance.

Third party liability

Third-party liability covers damage to others and their property.

Check with the rental company to see what they offer. Thomas says it's typically at least $1-million.

"The liability usually stays with the vehicle," she says.

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Distracted driving cop out?

Why do police get to talk on the phone and use laptops while they're driving? It's not fair to the rest of us. -- Michael

Well, the rest of us don't to carry guns or fight crime either, says Drop it and Drive's Karen Bowman.

"This question comes up all the time," Bowman says, "Police need to do their job and that means they have to make calls and use their laptops."

If police had to pull over to make calls, it could mean they wouldn't make it to an emergency call in time.

"If I've called 911 because somebody's in my house, I don't want police to take an extra two minutes to get there," Bowman says.

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That said, everybody has to focus on the road when behind the wheel, says OPP spokesman Pierre Chamberland.

"That includes police officers," Chamberland says. "It includes me in my normal life – we all have to get better at this."

If you have questions about driving or car maintenance, please contact our experts at globedrive@globeandmail.com.

Follow us on Twitter @Globe_Drive.

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