Edited by: Jessica Merritt
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If you commonly rent a vehicle during your travels, chances are you’ve depended on the complimentary car rental insurance on your credit card. Or, perhaps you’ve felt better protected paying the per-day charge for the protection offered by the car rental agency.
Either decision comes with tradeoffs.
Relying on the car rental insurance that comes with your credit card could serve you just fine, but few travelers take the time to understand what is and what is not covered. The coverage could be secondary, meaning you would need to first file a claim with any other applicable insurance before card coverage.
Paying the rental agency’s per-day fee for coverage can be expensive. According to the financial information website MarketWatch, the cost of car rental insurance, based on coverage offered by the top popular car rental companies, can be between $31 and $60 daily.
Today we will discuss an additional and unique coverage option available to American Express cardholders. Premium Protection car rental coverage is a cost-effective way to avoid relying on secondary car rental credit card coverage and an alternative to paying those high daily fees charged by rental companies.
We’ll cover all the features of this product, its cost, and whether it’s worth considering for your next car rental.
How Amex Credit Card Car Rental Insurance Works
The car rental insurance included complimentary on your American Express credit card can cover damage to the rental car, theft of the rental vehicle, associated towing, and reasonable loss of use charges by the rental agency.
American Express cards come with secondary car rental insurance, so you must first file a claim with any other applicable insurance before card coverage kicks in. Reimbursements you receive from any other source are also considered before coverage applies.
There are 60+ American Express cards that include this complimentary secondary car rental coverage — corporate cards are not included. The level of coverage you receive will vary by card.
Here are some of the best American Express cards that offer the option to purchase Premium Protection:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
- American Express® Gold Card
- American Express® Business Gold Card
- Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
- Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card
To activate card coverage, you must reserve and pay for the entire car rental with your card and decline the rental agency’s CDW/LDW coverage.
How Amex Premium Protection Works
Premium Protection is an optional coverage you can add to your American Express card. The protection stays on the card, then anytime you rent a vehicle using that card, the coverage becomes active for the current rental period.
You pay only for the coverage when renting a vehicle with just 1 flat fee that covers the entire rental period, up to 42 consecutive days. Depending on your state of residence and the level of coverage you select, prices range from $12.25 to $24.95 for the entire rental period.
For example, if your state of residence is Florida, you can add the highest coverage option to your Amex Gold card (or another American Express card). When you use that enrolled card for your car rental, you would pay just $15.25 for coverage that would cover you for the entire rental period, up to 42 consecutive days.
We’ll talk about how to add Premium Protection to your card shortly, but first, let’s look at the coverages you can expect to have when renting your next vehicle with Premium Protection in place.
Once you have enrolled your American Express card, each car rental charged to that card from that date forward will have coverage. You won’t be charged for Premium Protection coverage until you’ve used the enrolled card to pay for a car rental.
Here is an example of the coverage you’ll receive (the coverage limits can vary depending on your state of residence and your chosen plan):
- Primary coverage for theft, damage, usual and customary towing, storage, and loss of use expense
- Coverage of up to $100,000 per covered vehicle, depending on the selected plan
- Up to $15,000 in secondary medical coverage per person
- Up to $10,000 in total secondary personal property coverage, up to $5,000 per person (up to $15,000 for Florida residents)
- Accidental death and dismemberment coverage up to $10,000 per person, up to a maximum of up to $100,000 for all covered persons (can vary by state)
- Liability, uninsured or underinsured motorist, and disability coverage are not included
You’ll be charged 1 flat rate for each rental period of up to 42 consecutive days in length (30 days for Washington state residents). No policy deductible applies.
Once enrollment is complete, the card member and any authorized driver are covered. Also covered is “any passenger who is boarding, sitting in, riding in, or alighting from the rental car.”
Examples of Exclusions
As with all insurance policies, there are exclusions. Here are examples of the types of vehicles not covered under Premium Protection:
- Any truck other than a pick-up truck; no box truck or cube vans
- Leased vehicles
- Customized vehicles
- Vehicles more than 20 years old and vehicles that have not been manufactured in the past 10 years or more
- Limos, off-road vehicles, motorcycles, mopeds, golf carts, motorized carts, campers, trailers
- Vehicles in Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Italy, Ireland, or Jamaica
- Rentals made by rental companies such as moving van companies, car dealerships, peer-to-peer arrangements, or vehicle-sharing companies
In addition, some actions are excluded. Here are some examples of those:
- Violation of the rental agreement
- Intentional damage
- Leaving the rental vehicle unattended while unlocked or with windows down
- Racing or off-road use of the rental vehicle
- Confiscation by a government authority
- Criminal act or act of war
- Under the influence of alcohol or drugs not prescribed by a doctor
- Pushing or towing anything
Finally, here are some examples of losses that are not covered:
- Depreciation or diminished value, as required by law
- Manufacturer’s defects or wear and tear
- Pre-existing injuries and injuries not covered under secondary medical coverage or accidental death/dismemberment coverage
- Tire damage that is not part of a covered accident or theft of the entire rental car
- Furniture, art, money, securities, tickets, or documents
This is not an all-inclusive list but an overview of paraphrased key exclusions.
The Advantage of Premium Protection
Adding Premium Protection to your card has several advantages over the standard car rental insurance included on an American Express card.
Here is a sampling of those advantages:
- Primary coverage versus secondary coverage
- Up to $100,000 vehicle coverage versus $50,000 to $75,000
- Up to 42 consecutive days of coverage versus 30 days
- Up to $15,000 in secondary accidental medical coverage versus $5,000 or less
- Up to $10,000 in total personal property coverage versus minimal or no personal property coverage
How To Activate Coverage
To activate Premium Protection for your next car rental, log in to your online American Express card account or call the number on the back of your card.
At the top of your card account home page, you would select Rewards and Benefits, then Benefits. Scroll down to choose Premium Car Rental Protection.
After selecting Learn More, you’ll have the option to enroll. You’ll be taken to a page that describes the coverages, then once selecting Enroll Now, you’ll see the page below.
The card you selected initially will be the default card shown, but you can change the card you’d prefer to add coverage to.
Next, you’ll select the level of coverage you prefer. In this example, the options are either $75,000 or $100,000. Coverage options will vary by your state of residence.
Review and accept the terms, and you’ll immediately have the coverage added to your card.
Simply use your enrolled card to reserve and pay for your next car rental to activate coverage. You’ll also need to decline the rental agency’s CDW/LDW coverage and personal accident and personal property insurance for coverage to be valid during the rental period.
Your card will be charged the applicable premium when your card is charged for the rental. If your card is charged for the rental in advance and you end up canceling the rental, you may request a refund of the coverage premium.
You may also remove Premium Protection from your card at any time.
How To File a Claim
You’ll want to contact American Express promptly if you have a claim. It’s also essential to gather information, take photos, and obtain the necessary documents as soon after the loss as possible.
In the case of a claim, start by doing the following:
- Notify the local police of damage, theft, vandalism, or accidents
- Contact the car rental agency and let them know what happened; tell them you have American Express protection and will file a claim
- Notify American Express as soon as possible at 800-338-1670 or by calling the number on the back of your card
- Complete a written statement of loss, including a completed claim form and any requested documentation, within 60 days of the loss
The requested documentation could include any or all of the following items:
- Police report
- Photos of the damage
- Invoices received from the rental agency
- Rental agreement
- Any associated medical records
- Any additional documentation deemed necessary to support the claim
Everything Else You Need To Know
Like other supplemental car rental insurance that credit cards offer, liability coverage is not included. Most rental agencies have this coverage with your daily rental or charge a nominal fee.
We have abbreviated coverage descriptions for this article and have not included all the terms and conditions that apply for Premium Protection car rental coverage. Complete information about the product can be found in the Premium Car Rental Protection coverage description document available before enrollment.
The Premium Protection car rental insurance option is an excellent upgrade to the car rental insurance that comes with your American Express credit card.
The most you’ll pay for the added protection is $24.95 for up to 42 days of coverage. Having primary coverage instead of secondary coverage can eliminate having to deal with an extra claims administrator should you have a claim. That alone and the peace of mind could be worth the fee.
Additionally, with Premium Protection, you will not have to file a personal insurance claim that could increase your car insurance rates.
If you’re an American Express cardholder, adding Premium Protection is a cost-effective way to have primary car rental coverage automatically in place for your next car rental.
For the car rental loss and damage insurance benefit of The Platinum Card® from American Express, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, American Express® Gold Card, American Express® Business Gold Card, Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, and Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card, eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. Car Rental Loss or Damage Coverage is offered through American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Business Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® card, click here.
Featured Image Credit: Hamann La via Pexels
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. For a modest fee, you can secure primary car rental insurance for up to 42 days which is much longer than coverage that comes complimentary on most credit cards.
Protection for the vehicle can also be higher, up to $100,000, versus the normal $50,000 or $75,000 for complimentary coverage.
In addition, secondary personal property and accidental injury medical are included, which you might not find with credit card car rental coverage.
The Amex Platinum card comes with secondary car rental insurance, not primary. Secondary coverage means you must first file a claim with any other applicable insurance before card coverage.
You can add Premium Protection car rental insurance to your Amex Platinum card and enjoy primary car rental coverage for just 1 low fee for the entire rental period of up to 42 consecutive days.
Premium Protection car rental coverage covers the eligible rental car for up to $100,000, which could cover many types of luxury vehicles. You must select this higher limit option when adding the plan to your card.
Coverage options can also vary by your state of residence.
No. Amex Premium Protection excludes peer to peer and car-sharing services.
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