I was at the car rental counter on vacation recently and rather matter of factly refused all of the extra insurance. Heck, I wrote about refusing all the extras back in 2005. But the agent tried to wear me down. "Sir, if you are in an accident and the car is out of service for a week or two while it's in the shop, we're going to send you a bill for loss of use and downtime."

I still refused the insurance, which would have cost me an extra $10 to $15 PER DAY, but I got on the phone to confirm that I am covered. According to Eric Rongstad of R.I.G. Metro Insurance in Golden Valley, the loss of use, collision damage waiver, and liability coverage sold at the counter are all unnecessary.

Why? Because we have auto insurance from the state of Minnesota. All rental car claims come from the property damage coverage. The minimum coverage is $10,000 but the state madates coverage of $35,000 when a person rents a car. That's not true in all other states.

What are the caveats? One, $35K might not be enough coverage if you total two cars in a crash. Experts recommend $100,000 coverage. Other caveats: Motor Home rentals are different. Check with your agent. If the car is for business use, the employer's insurance is probably the primary insurance, not the driver's personal insurance. Rental contracts longer than one month are also a different matter. Check with your agent for coverage longer than one month.

For more answers to car rental questions, call your Minnesota agent or the Minnesota Department of Commerce at 1-800-657-3602.