When and How To Use American Express Car Rental Insurance

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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 car insurance policy, a credit card or by purchasing optional rental car insurance. However, rental car coverage can set you back between $8 and $47 per day.

American Express car rental insurance is an additional member benefit that could come in handy — and save you money.

American Express Car Rental Insurance Pros and Cons

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

Pros 

  • Free coverage for up to 30 days per rental
  • Benefit limit of $50,000 or $75,000 depending on the card
  • Will pay for your primary car insurance’s deductible
  • Does not require additional enrollment to activate
  • Includes coverage 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 steps in after your primary car insurance is exhausted

Who Is Eligible for American Express Car Rental Insurance?

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

Get Credit Card Perks

Premium personal and business cards with an annual fee such as the American Express® Platinum card, Hilton Honors American Express® Aspire Card or the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card bump up the car rental 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 generally be the first line of coverage in case there’s 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 car rental insurance will be the primary form of coverage — and a money-saving alternative to purchasing a rental car company’s insurance.

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

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What Does American Express Car Rental Insurance Cover?

Knowing what American Express car rental insurance covers takes digging into the fine print.

As mentioned, American Express car rental insurance provides secondary insurance on top of your primary car insurance. It’s meant to cover any additional costs above your primary policy’s limits. If you don’t have a primary policy, American Express car rental insurance will become the primary car rental coverage.

What Is Covered

  • Car rentals for up to 30 days
  • Repairs for covered perils such as theft or damage for up to the limit of $50,000 or $75,000, depending on the card
  • The actual cash value of the rental vehicle if it’s less than the amount of the repairs required
  • The wholesale book value or invoice price minus depreciation if the rental was stolen or a total loss
  • Additional related costs such as appraisal, storage or towing fees
  • Your primary car insurance’s deductible

What Is Not Covered

  • Commercial vehicles such as a cargo van
  • Vehicles rented in Australia, New Zealand or Italy
  • Off-roading
  • Illegal activity or driving under the influence
  • Liability and uninsured/underinsured motorist claims

The points provided aren’t 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 don’t have to be the cardholder to be covered by American Express car rental insurance. The primary cardmember, spouse or domestic partner and eligible authorized drivers who are listed on the rental agreement are also covered.

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How to Use American Express Car Rental Insurance

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

American Express Premium Rental Car Insurance

If you’re renting a luxury vehicle, the $50,000 to $75,000 benefit limit may not be enough. You could always buy 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 Car Rental Protection will provide you with a higher limit of $100,000.

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

If you’re wondering why you would 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 could increase your premiums due to the claim.

How to File a Claim

If you experience a loss or damage, American Express recommends you file a claim right away or within 30 days of the event. You can file a claim online or by contacting the American Express claims center at 1-800-338-1670 if you don’t have internet access.

To File an American Express Car Rental Insurance Claim

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

American Express car rental insurance claims are typically process within 45 days and paid within 30 days of the filed claim.

Takeaway

American Express credit cards have many value-added perks, such as American Express car rental insurance. Declining a car rental company’s coverage and opting for free coverage from American Express can save you money

If you already have car insurance for your personal vehicle, it may cover the rental car. However, it’s nice to know that American Express car rental insurance is there to provide secondary coverage to your car 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 for cardholders, known as Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance. To activate it, pay for the full car rental and deposit on the card and decline the rental car company's Collision Damage Waiver insurance.
  • Does American Express Platinum give you car insurance?
    • American Express Platinum cards come with a no-deductible Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance with a limit of $75,000.
  • Does American Express Bonvoy cover rental car insurance?
    • American Express provides Marriott Bonvoy cardholders complementary Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance with a limit of $75,000.
  • What insurance company does American Express use?
    • 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 those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express.

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    About the Author

    Cynthia Paez Bowman is a personal finance writer with degrees from American University in international business and journalism. Besides writing about 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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