If you frequently rent cars, it pays to be aware of some of the “hidden rules” regarding insurance coverage.
There are several ways rental cars can be insured, and rather than duplicate coverage, you should be aware of coverage you may already have which would pay for damages if you rented a car and caused an accident.
One way you may be covered for rental car damage is simply to take a policy out when you rent the car.
These policies are cheap and are available right where you rent the car.
However, if you already have liability insurance on your own car, you are generally covered when you rent a car, as well. Collision damage, however, may not be covered.
Some credit cards will actually pay your deductible if you use the card when renting a car, and are involved in an accident which your liability insurance or a rental contract cover.
However, not all cards cover these deductibles, so you must know if you have rental coverage with your current card before assuming your deductible will be paid. Other cards will offer you primary or secondary coverage beyond what your insurance policy covers.
For American Express cardholders, all cards except the Delta Options card provide “secondary” coverage. This means that the card will pay what your insurance does not pay. You can pay a fee of $24.95 per rental to have primary coverage, which means the card will pay the entire amount so that you do not have to file a claim with your insurance company.
American Express covers rentals up to thirty days, and excludes various types of claims; it also will not cover rentals in Australian, New Zealand, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, and Italy. For small business cards, coverage is limited only to the United States. American Express also offers towing and storage reimbursement and “loss of use” coverage.
Master Card offers secondary coverage up to $50,000 for Gold, Platinum, World, and World Elite cardholders. Vehicles excluded include pickup trucks, recreational vehicles, and any vehicle with a retail price of over $50,000.
The cards also cover loss of use and towing fees, and all cards except the World and World Elite exclude Ireland, Israel, and Jamaica from coverage.
Discover cards, except for student cards, offer secondary coverage up to $25,000. Discover does not cover fees such as towing, but has no location limitations on coverage. Rentals up to 31 days are covered, but coverage extends to 45 days if the card is used to rent a car used for business.
All Visa cards offer secondary coverage for rentals up to the actual cash value. Rental coverage is for 15 days in your country of residence and up to 31 days outside of that country. The cards cover reasonable towing and loss of use charges, but exclude the countries of Ireland, Jamaica, and Israel.
Diners Club cards provide the most comprehensive rental coverage of any credit cards. Diners Club offers primary coverage up to $100,000 for the Carte Blanche and $75,000 for other cards. Trucks, some SUVs, and recreational vehicles are excluded.
Coverage lasts for 45 days of rental, and towing and loss of use are covered. Diners Club does not offer coverage in Jamaica, Australia, Ireland, Italy, Israel or New Zealand.
If you are curious as to what your credit card covers regarding rental insurance, visit your company’s web page or call customer service for your card. Ask about renting a car and what particular coverage your card offers.