American Express Car Rental Insurance: Your Guide


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If you’ve ever rented a vehicle, you probably know that the rental company requires you to insure the vehicle through your existing auto insurance policy, credit card, or by purchasing optional rental car insurance. However, rental car coverage can cost you between $8 and $47 per day.

American Express rental car insurance is an added member benefit that can benefit you — and save you money.

Pros and Cons of American Express Car Rental Insurance

Here’s a quick overview of what you get when you choose American Express car rental coverage.

Professionals

  • Free coverage for up to 30 rental days
  • Benefit limit of $50,000 or $75,000 depending on the card
  • It will pay the deductible on your primary auto insurance
  • It does not require additional registration for activation
  • Includes cover for cardholder, spouse and authorized drivers

cons

  • Does not provide liability or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
  • Not available for car rentals in Italy, Australia and New Zealand
  • Secondary coverage, meaning it only kicks in after your primary car insurance has run out

Who is eligible for American Express car rental insurance?

All American Express® cardholders qualify for rental car coverage known as rental car loss and damage insurance. The level of insurance depends on the card. Typically, American Express cards with no annual fee have a maximum rental car loss and damage benefit of $50,000.

Premium personal and business cards with an annual fee such as the American Express® Platinum Card, Hilton Honors American Express® Aspire Card or Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card increase the rental car insurance benefit limit to $75,000.

When to use American Express car rental insurance

American Express car rental insurance is a secondary type of insurance. This means that your existing vehicle policy will usually be the first line of cover in the event of a loss such as an accident, fender bender or rental vehicle theft.

If you don’t own a vehicle or don’t have car insurance, American Express rental car insurance will be your primary form of coverage—and a money-saving alternative to purchasing insurance from a rental car company.

If you’re wondering when you should use American Express rental car insurance, the answer is whenever you rent a vehicle. Even if you have personal vehicle insurance that covers rental cars, the extra level of free coverage provided by American Express wouldn’t hurt.

What does American Express car rental insurance cover?

Finding out what American Express car rental insurance covers requires digging into the fine print.

As mentioned, American Express rental car insurance provides secondary insurance in addition to your primary car insurance. It is designed to cover any additional costs over and above your main policy limits. If you do not have a primary policy, American Express rental car insurance will become the primary rental car coverage.

What is covered

  • Car rental up to 30 days
  • Repairs for covered perils such as theft or damage up to a limit of $50,000 or $75,000, depending on the card
  • The actual cash value of the rental car, if less than the amount of repairs needed
  • The wholesale book value or invoice price less depreciation if the rental was stolen or a total loss
  • Additional associated costs such as appraisal, storage or withdrawal fees
  • Your basic auto insurance is a deductible

What is not covered

  • Commercial vehicles such as cargo van
  • Vehicle hire in Australia, New Zealand or Italy
  • Off road
  • Illegal activity or drunk driving
  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Liability and Claims

The points provided are not exhaustive. It’s important to read the American Express car rental insurance terms for your card type to know the details of what is and isn’t covered.

Who is covered by American Express car rental insurance?

You do not need to be a cardholder to be covered by American Express car rental insurance. The primary cardholder, spouse or domestic partner and eligible authorized drivers who are listed on the rental agreement are also covered.

How to use American Express rental car insurance

No special activation is required in advance to take advantage of American Express car rental insurance. All you have to do is pay the entire rental vehicle and deposit with your American Express card and decline the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) offered by the rental car company.

American Express Premium Car Rental Insurance

If you’re leasing a luxury vehicle, the $50,000 to $75,000 limit may not be enough. You can always purchase American Express® Premium Car Rental Protection for a flat rate of $12.25 to $24.95 per rental, for up to 42 days of coverage. Premium Protection Car Rental will provide you with a higher limit of $100,000.

Its best feature, however, is the primary nature of the coating. Unlike American Express’ free but secondary car rental insurance, Premium Car Rental Protection from American Express provides primary coverage. This means you can opt out of using your primary car insurance to cover theft or damage to your rental.

If you’re wondering why you’d want to avoid using your car insurance for a rental vehicle, consider this. If your rental car is stolen or damaged, your personal car insurance will step in to pay for the loss, but may increase your premiums due to the claim.

How to file a claim

If you experience loss or damage, American Express recommends filing a claim immediately or within 30 days of the event. You can file a claim online or by contacting the American Express Claim Center at 1-800-338-1670 if you don’t have Internet access.

To file an American Express rental car insurance claim

  • Log in to the Claims Center.
  • Click on “Submit a claim”.
  • Select the American Express card you used.
  • Enter the required details such as hire date, incident description and more.
  • Provide the necessary “Proof of Loss” documentation, such as a rental car contract, an American Express statement showing the rental car charge, a police report, a repair bill, and photos.

American Express car rental insurance claims are usually processed within 45 days and paid within 30 days of the claim being submitted.

Take-out

American Express credit cards have many value-added benefits, such as American Express rental car insurance. Forgoing car rental company coverage and opting for free coverage from American Express can save you money.

If you already have car insurance for your personal car, it may cover the rental car. However, it’s good to know that American Express rental car insurance is there to provide secondary coverage to your auto insurance policy or primary coverage if you don’t own a vehicle.

FAQ

  • Does American Express protect rental cars?
    • American Express provides free rental car coverage to cardholders known as Rental Car Loss and Damage Insurance. To activate it, pay the full rental car and card deposit and decline the car rental company’s collision damage waiver insurance.
  • Does American Express Platinum Get You Car Insurance?
    • American Express Platinum cards come with non-deductible rental car loss and damage insurance with a limit of $75,000.
  • Does American Express Bonvoy cover rental car insurance?
    • American Express provides Marriott Bonvoy cardholders with additional rental car loss and damage insurance with a limit of $75,000.
  • Which insurance company uses American Express?
    • Claims are investigated, processed and paid by AMEX Assurance Company based in Phoenix, Arizona.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, ratings or recommendations expressed in this article are solely those of the author and have not been reviewed, endorsed or otherwise endorsed by American Express.

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About the author

Cynthia Paez Bowman is a personal finance author with degrees from American University in International Business and Journalism. In addition to personal finance, she writes about real estate, interior design and architecture. Her work has been featured in MSN, Brex, Freshome, MyMove, Emirates Open Skies magazine and more.

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