What Is Credit Card Rental Car Insurance?

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Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver is something that often pops up on credit card reviews and benefit guides. But what is the car rental insurance provided by your credit card and how does it work? Here is everything you need to know about credit card rental car insurance – and if it’s worth it when you travel:

How Does Credit Card Rental Car Insurance Work?

Renting a vehicle comes with the inherent risk of an accident. Car rental insurance, available at the rental counter, can help offset these fears by providing coverage in the event of an accident, vehicle theft, or another incident.

Car rental companies offer four types of vehicle insurance: liability insurance, collision damage waiver, personal accident insurance, and personal effects insurance. Credit cards typically provide collision damage waiver when the cardholder uses their associated credit card to pay the costs of renting a car and waive the additional coverage at the rental counter.

What Does Car Rental Insurance from Your Credit Card Cover?

As mentioned, the rental car insurance from your credit card typically covers collision damage. The Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver you frequently see with Visa credit cards is the same thing as collision protection. This charge is usually the most expensive item when you can opt for additional coverage at the rental counter, so getting it with your credit card is a great feature.

Some of the other items covered through car rental insurance with your credit card include:

  • Towing expenses
  • Loss of use while a rental car is out of service.
  • Some administrative fees

Keep in mind that not all credit cards or card issuers offer the same services with their car rental insurance protection programs. Always consult your cardmember agreement and the guide to benefits, which is usually attached.

What Doesn’t Credit Card Rental Insurance Cover?

Car rental insurance through your credit card only covers collision damage and should not be considered a substitute for your primary coverage. Instead, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver should be considered secondary coverage, as it will not help with the following incidents, accidents, or costs:

Damage to any property beyond the rental vehicle Injuries to other people Lawsuits stemming from damage or injuries to others Theft/loss of personal belongings
Medical costs associated with accidents Special vehicle rentals, including exotic cars, antique cars, supercars, motorcycles, large box vans, or certain trucks Many credit card auto insurance programs do not offer insurance for longer rental periods, such as more than a month Some credit card rental car insurance won't cover car rentals made in select foreign countries

Rentals in specific international locations might also be excluded. Both Mastercard and Visa, for example, do not cover vehicle rentals made in Ireland, Israel, or Jamaica. Similarly, Amex will not cover vehicle rentals in Australia, Italy, or New Zealand.

How to File a Claim

So, how can you go about filing a claim for an incident with your rental card? Typically, th process is as follows:

① Rent a vehicle using your credit card with rental car coverage.
② Use the same card when checking in at the rental counter.
③ Decline the additional collision damage waiver offered by the rental car company.
④ Pay the full cost of the vehicle rental using the same credit card.
⑤ File a claim with the car rental agency should an accident occur.

Filing a claim for rental damage varies based on the card issuer. Typically, you will need to provide specific information, which will include:

Accident report Vehicle rental agreement Police report
Repair estimates Photographs (if applicable) Witness testimony (if applicable)

The time frame for filing a claim also varies based upon the card type. Visa, for example, requires a claim to be submitted by either 15 days or 31 days after the incident (depending on the Visa product), and requires claim documentation to be submitted within 90 days. Visa also sets a claim limit of $50,000 on their credit cards.

Mastercard requires eligible cardholders to claim within 15 days of an accident and requires documentation within 180 days of the claim. American Express offers a 30-day window to make a claim and requires the same 180 days to submit claim documentation as Mastercard. Amex also offers extended rental car insurance for up to $24.95 per rental period, which is a great option for those planning on renting a car for a week or more.

Discover does not currently offer car rental insurance on its U.S. consumer or business credit cards.

Related Article: Credit Card Purchase Protection: Everything You Need to Know

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About: Cory
Cory Santos

Cory is BestCards.com's "Jack of all trades" and resident credit expert, covering all facets of the credit card space. Cory holds academic degrees in both the U.S. and U.K. In addition to credit cards, Cory finds that jogging, cats, and memes are essential parts of a balanced day.

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