Maximizing Car Rental Insurance & Coverage Benefits with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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There are few topics more boring and confusing than car insurance.

If you ever rent a vehicle, however,  you’re sure to find value and save a lot of money by investing a few minutes to learn about the complimentary car rental coverage that comes with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

One of the decisions we’re all faced with when picking up our rental car is whether we should take the rental car company’s collision damage plan.

But if you’re charging your rental car to your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, the decision process becomes much easier.

This is because the card offers some of the best rental car coverage available when compared to other travel rewards credit cards.

The coverage is called car rental collision damage waiver (or CDW), and the protection comes complimentary on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

In this article we’ll cover:

  • What is collision damage waiver coverage
  • What’s covered with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card CDW
  • What you need to do to make sure you’re covered
  • What’s not covered
  • How you file a claim

Let’s get started learning about the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card auto rental collision damage waiver and the benefits of having this coverage.

What Is Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver?

Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) is protection that covers damage from collision or theft to most rental vehicles.

This coverage reimburses you for damages or a replacement if your rental car is involved in an incident. It’s required when you rent a vehicle and will be offered to you by the rental car company when completing the initial paperwork.

If you have coverage elsewhere, such as with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you can decline the coverage offered by the car rental company.

Bottom Line: The coverage offered on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is primary coverage, which means you do not have to access other insurance first.

What Makes the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Coverage Better?

Most rental car companies pressure you to accept their own CDW, which can be quite expensive.

The CDW coverage that comes with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card allows you to decline the rental car company’s coverage with confidence and still be covered.

In addition to receiving excellent rental car coverage, you’ll be earning 2 Ultimate Rewards Points per dollar spent on your car rental when using the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

You will also incur no foreign transaction fees on international car rentals.

Primary Coverage vs. Secondary Coverage

I’ll apologize in advance for the boring insurance terms, but these are important to understand. They’re also one of the reasons the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card’s auto rental coverage is superior.

Rental car coverage that comes with credit cards can be secondary — this means that you must first file a claim with your primary insurance company before the secondary coverage will kick in.

But the coverage on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is primary coverage — you do not have to file a claim with another insurance company first.

Another positive is that Chase’s primary CDW coverage is not limited to rentals outside the country (this is common with other credit card CDW coverage).

The coverage is provided on a primary basis in the U.S. and worldwide in most countries. 

Coverage Extends to Other Drivers

Another reason to use the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to pay for your rental car is the extension of coverage to other drivers. The following drivers are covered for CDW when using the card:

  • Primary cardholder when driving the car
  • Any additional driver listed on the rental agreement
  • Authorized users on your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card who rent with their card
  • Any additional driver listed on the authorized user rental agreement

Unlike other premium credit cards, Chase does not charge a fee for adding an authorized user to your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

Bottom Line: Authorized users receive the same CDW coverage as primary cardholders when using their Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to rent a car. 

Rental Car View
The peace of mind knowing you’ll be covered if your rental car is damaged or stolen is priceless. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Requirements During the Rental Sign Up

To ensure you receive coverage under the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card’s CDW, you will need to do the following:

  • Provide your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card when reserving, picking up, and completing the car rental transaction.
  • Decline the rental car company’s CDW coverage. This coverage is sometimes called “loss damage waiver” or LDW.

If you provide a credit card other than the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card when completing the rental, you will forfeit coverage. You will also forfeit coverage if you accept the rental car company’s CDW/LDW coverage.

It is acceptable to use a combination of Chase Ultimate Rewards points and your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to rent a vehicle — you will still qualify for CDW coverage.

Bottom Line: To ensure you have CDW coverage, use only your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card for all elements of your rental car transaction and decline the rental car company’s CDW/LDW coverage. 

What’s Covered

The card’s CDW coverage will reimburse you for covered expenses incurred on the rental vehicle, including:

  • Damage or theft to the covered rental vehicle (up to the actual cash value of the vehicle)
  • Loss of use charges assessed by the rental car company
  • Reasonable towing charges to the nearest repair facility

Primary coverage for car rentals is valid in most countries.

You should contact the benefits administrator prior to your trip to obtain a coverage letter and confirm that you will have coverage in the country where you’re renting the vehicle.

Family Rental Car
Having a credit card with primary CDW can help make those vacation dollars go further.  Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com.

What’s Not Covered

There are important exclusions to the CDW coverage, including the following:

  • Coverage is not valid for rentals that exceed 31 days
  • Expensive, exotic, and antique cars; certain vans and trucks; motorcycles, mopeds, and motorbikes; limousines; recreational vehicles
  • Open cargo bed vehicles and vans that carry more than 8 people
  • Losses due to using the vehicle off-road

It’s important to note that the CDW applies to damage and theft of the rental vehicle only. You still need to have personal liability coverage when renting a vehicle.

Liability coverage, which covers injuries/damage to others, is usually included in the cost of renting a car.  Your own personal car insurance can also be a source for this coverage.

Hot Tip: You can find a complete list of what is not covered, including which specific brands of cars are excluded, in the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card’s Guide to Benefits.

How to File an Insurance Claim

You have up to 60 days after the incident to report a claim, but you’ll want to do it as soon as possible. You may be charged immediately by your rental car company, so you’ll want to start the process quickly.

Be aware that the claim will be settled on a reimbursement basis, so you’ll be out some money during the claim processing period.

The first step is to call the benefits administrator when your rental car is in an accident or stolen.

You will be asked some questions about the incident and sent a claim form to complete.

Then, you will be required to submit documentation, which could include:

  • A copy of your credit card statement showing the entire rental was paid for with your card
  • A copy of the entire rental agreement
  • A copy of the accident report showing the amount you’re responsible for
  • A police report
  • Photos of the damage
  • Repair estimates
  • Any additional documentation the benefits administrator deems necessary

You have 100 days from the date of incident to send in the claim form, but if you are unable to retrieve some of the documents, the claim can be left open for up to 365 days total.

To summarize the important deadlines from the date of incident:

  • Contact the administrator right away. The claim will be denied if it has been more than 60 days.
  • Send in the completed claim form with or without all the required documents within 100 days.
  • Ask for assistance from your benefits administrator if you are unable to obtain the required documentation.

Hot Tip: It’s good to be aware in advance of the information and documentation you would need if you have an accident or your rental car is stolen. Some items can be difficult and time-consuming to retrieve after the fact. 

Everything Else You Need to Know

It’s always prudent to look over a rental car before driving away from the agency to ensure there is no existing damage.

Take pictures with your cell phone and let the rental agent know before leaving if you find any damage. Get written documentation of any damage found prior to leaving the facility so you are not held liable.

Both the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve® offer the same primary CDW coverage. The Chase Sapphire Reserve®, however, has a $75,000 maximum limit on the coverage.

Hot Tip: Foreign rental car agencies may not understand the coverage offered on U.S. credit cards. Request a letter of coverage from Chase before you leave on your trip by calling the benefits administrator at 888-320-9961, or collect outside the U.S. at 1-804-673-1691.

Chase Business Credit Cards With Primary Car Rental Insurance

While the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of our favorite travel rewards credit cards, you may need a business credit card that provides the same valuable car rental CDW benefits.

The Chase CDW coverage on these cards is primary and applies when renting for business or personal purposes outside your residence country.

In your country of residence, the coverage is primary when renting “primarily” for business purposes and secondary when renting for personal use.

The following Chase business credit cards offer this CDW coverage.

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card

Bottom Line: Chase business credit cards provide primary CDW coverage when renting a vehicle for personal purposes outside of your residence country.

Final Thoughts

The CDW coverage offered with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card can save you a lot of money if you frequently rent a vehicle. Having the coverage can also make the rental process easier as there are fewer decisions to make.

If you do not have auto insurance, there’s also a certain peace of mind gained by knowing you’ll be covered without accepting the expensive CDW/LDW offered by the rental car company.

If you do have auto insurance, you would benefit from having the coverage too — you will not have to file a claim with your own insurance company first (as you would with credit card rental coverage that is secondary).

This is a favorable alternative, because filing a claim with your auto insurance company could result in higher rates and even cancellation.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is not only one of our favorite choices as an excellent travel rewards credit card — it provides benefits that can actually save you money.

For additional information on this topic, check out our piece on The Best Credit Cards for Car Rental Insurance Coverage.


*Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock

FAQ

How does rental car coverage work?

The rental car coverage that comes with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card provides protection if your rental car is involved in an accident or is stolen.

The coverage is provided free of charge and reimburses you for damage, towing, and loss of use expenses you become responsible for due to damage or theft of your rental car.

You must reserve and charge the rental car with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and refuse the car rental company’s CDW coverage.

Is there a Chase credit card with rental car coverage with no annual fee?

Two of Chase’s business credit cards do not charge an annual fee and provide primary collision damage waiver coverage.

The Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card and the Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card do not charge an annual fee and offer complimentary CDW coverage.

Are other drivers covered when driving the rental car?

In order for other drivers to be covered under the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card CDW coverage, they must be listed on the rental car agreement.

Authorized users that you have added to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card are also covered for the same primary CDW coverage when renting a vehicle and using their card.

However, if an authorized user is traveling with you and driving, they should also be listed as a driver on the rental agreement to ensure coverage.

What is the difference between primary coverage and secondary coverage?

Secondary CDW coverage requires you to utilize other insurance first before covering you. You would need to file a claim with a primary insurance company first, then the secondary coverage would kick in.

With primary CDW coverage, you do not need to file a claim with any other insurance company first.

What does "pay for loss of use" mean?

When a rental car is damaged or stolen, the rental car company cannot rent out that vehicle and will potentially lose that income.

The amount of lost revenue due to the incident may then be charged to the renter.

The CDW coverage on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card covers this “loss of use” responsibility.

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