American Express comes through on car rental coverage!

Some of you may remember that back in early August I had a bit of an accident with a rental car in Germany. You can find the original post here, and the follow up post here.

Fortunately I paid for the rental with my American Express Platinum card, which provides secondary collision coverage through their basic car rental protection (though in the meantime I’ve signed up for their premium car rental protection, which costs a flat $24.95 per rental and provides both primary and secondary coverage, along with a bunch of other benefits). You guys helped me figured out the exact benefits, though there seemed to be about a hundred different opinions as to whether I’d need to report this to my insurance company first or whether I could deal exclusively with American Express.

So I figured I’d provide the “final” report. A week after getting home I opened a claim with American Express, which could be done online and took all of 10 minutes. I simply had to fax or scan all of my correspondence from Europcar from thereon out.

I didn’t hear from Europcar for a while, and then in early September they sent me a bill for roughly 1,100 Euros (not as bad as I thought, actually). I faxed that to American Express, and today received an email from which, which in part reads:

This email is to notify you that your claim has been reviewed and that payment has been made.

Sweet! As much as I spend so much time focusing on the points earning benefits of credit cards, this whole experience was awesome. I spent a total of maybe 15 minutes on this (filling out the form online and faxing American Express the Europcar bill), and they took care of the rest.

Kudos, American Express!

Filed Under: American Express, Credit Cards
  1. Another reason to move to California. Amex Premium Car Protection is only $15.95 per rental (not $24.95) for CA residents.

  2. Credit card insurance is truly a lifesaver.

    I’ve had two claims in the last few years on my RBC Visa Infinite Avion card and in both cases, I simply made one phone-call to advise them of the claim number with Enterprise/Avis respectively and they handled it completely from there. I didn’t even know it had been settled until I got a letter in the mail with the final receipt.

  3. Why did Amex cover it if they only provide secondary insurance?

    Also, I thought you said earlier that Europcar includes 1000 Euros of coverage for all rentals? Was the total claim over 2000 Euros or something?

  4. Just wanted to praise AMEX premium car insurance. Was in a head on collision with a drunk driver in South Africa last January. Rolled 7 times and totalled the car. AMEX was phenomenal with their response and coverage. Would absolutely recommend anyone who rents in a foreign country to have their insurance. Would not ever rent any car in the future without the AMEX insurance.

  5. Yeah can you explain the seemingly opposite claims here. 1) You are now paying extra per rental because of what you learned and 2) Without paying anything extra you were 100% covered anyways.

  6. What’s the difference between primary and secondary coverage? …maybe a dumb questions, but I don’t know! Thanks…

  7. You can have many cards in your Hertz profile to get the platinum benefit for the four hour grace period on rentals, you do not have to use an Amex card for the rental. I use my Diner’s Club card with an Amex Platinum CPC code as Diner’s Club provides first person coverage for car rental insurance. Another trick is that you can use your Amex card for the reservation and if you do not have any damage when returning the car just provide another credit card for all of the charges so it does not trigger the insurance charge from Amex. Sometimes this does not work in foreign countries because they will charge the full amount at the time of vehicle pickup.

  8. The claim only took 15 minutes, but how many hours did you obsess over it? 🙂

    Can you do a post “Car Rental Insurance 101”? I think most people find this topic overwhelming, so a guide would be helpful.

  9. Most credit cards are secondary coverage in the US but they become primary elsewhere, when you own car insurance doesn’t provide coverage.

  10. Sometimes great customer service and how easy it is to deal with a company is more important than how many points you earn

  11. @ John — Right, I believe Europcar had about 1,100 Euros of coverage, though that wasn’t mentioned in the letter I received from them. I assume AmEx covered it because it was out of the country, and very few insurance policies cover that.

    @ Nathan — Yes, in this case I was covered, but if I had hit another car (instead of a pole) I would have been responsible for the damage to that car, which wouldn’t have been covered. This whole situation made me so worried that $25 is a small price to pay for the peace of mind of literally being able to walk away from a rental car accident without paying a dime if something were to happen.

    @ Blake — Secondary means your insurance company is usually contacted first and they only pay the difference, while primary means they handle it directly.

  12. Does any amex card provide the secondary benefits, or is it just the particular card you referenced? Going to HI and driving the road to Hana in January… would love to not have to worry about rental car insurance! Currently only have liability policies for our (US) insured cars… from the way I understand your post amex would cover any damage to the rental car that wasn’t covered under our personal insurance?

  13. I have a nice little story like that too. I signed up for the rental insurance through American Express several years ago and always forgot that I had it until I saw a $19.95 charge tagged on after each car rental and it always made me grumble. But this August, my husband rented a car and scratched and dented it and we ended up finding a $1000.00 charge to our American Express from the car rental agency when I checked our online statement a couple of weeks later (no communication from them about it- nice). Fretting, I wondered how we would be able to pay for it but then I noticed the $19.95 charge from American express for the insurance and gave them a call. They’re taking care of it and I’m so happy that I signed up for it. Love the great customer service they have too.

  14. Can you explain why the Amex standard coverage was insufficient? If you had hit another car, your liability insurance would have kicked in for that car. The Amex CDW coverage is supposed to be for damage to your car.

  15. Ben, this statement here is not true:

    @ Nathan — Yes, in this case I was covered, but if I had hit another car (instead of a pole) I would have been responsible for the damage to that car, which wouldn’t have been covered.

    Germany collision is mandatory and the other car would have been covered.

    I tend to rent from Avis and Hertz but use the European web sites then basic CDW is included (and the rates tend to be lower) but you have a 500-1000 Euro (or 1000 CHF) that you need to cover.

  16. @Mac, regarding your comment “Another reason to move to California. Amex Premium Car Protection is only $15.95 per rental (not $24.95) for CA residents.”
    This might sound absurd, but I actually just got a call from AMEX regarding this program. The rep said that the program is free to enroll (covers all personal AMEX cards) and is only billed when you use an enrolled AMEX card at a car rental agency. The only difference was that he told me coverage was $17.95 for any rental up to 42 consecutive days with residents in California. Are you sure that your $15.95 rate is correct?

  17. I have it on my AMEX to and used it on a rental I had in DC. Someone hit my car in a parking lot when I was not in the car and drove off. AMEX covered the damage payment fast and easy.

  18. I too, have registered my card with AMX for the primary rental car coverage. There are actually 2 different levels to choose from. The first level is $19.95 per rental period and will provide up to $75,000.00 worth of primary coverage. This was good for me. I believe the level that Lucky describes for $24.95 provides $100,000.00 coverage and the limit for medical is 2x more, if I remember correctly. Well worth it – for peace of mind. At least it is for me.

  19. Oops, I just put a ding in my National rental bumper.
    I used Thank You points to get the car for 10 days. I was surprised the TYP agents did not accept my Amex card, so I used my Ink Bold. I do not even know if it provided rental card protection.
    When I got to the National counter I handed then my Amex card, but don’t expect any additional charges on it.
    I wonder if either card will help with the bumper?

  20. @ Ann W — It’s only the American Express Platinum. That being said, since it’s secondary coverage, my understanding is that your primary insurance would have to cover the damage within the US, unless you got the American Express premium primary insurance.

    @ Chris — Ultimately I value that it’s primary coverage instead of secondary coverage, so if I have an accident in a rental I wouldn’t have to report it to my insurance company. Also, it covers higher amounts to the best of my knowledge. Though maybe I’m wrong about the basic insurance not covering damage to other cards?

    @ German Expat — Interesting, so you’re saying their car would have been covered through my AmEx policy, or something else?

  21. @ BeachMiles — To the best of my knowledge the Ink Bold doesn’t offer any coverage.

    Unfortunately on the AmEx front you would need to pay with the Platinum and secure the reservation with it in order to have them cover it, to the best of my knowledge.

  22. American Express membership miles transfer 1:1 to almost all airline programs. However, a great opportunity is being promoted whereby transfers to British Airways frequent flyer miles (known as Avios points), get a 40% bonus, meaning for example that 100,000 miles transferred will get 140,000 Avios points.

    is it worthwhile to convert?

  23. What are your thoughts on JP Morgan Select for primary insurance? I was considering this card as I do not have Diners and the United MP annual fee is much higher.

  24. Lucky: Do you know if this claim will have any influence in your car insurance premium in the US? I mean, will this be in your “driver profile” anyhow and maybe increase your premium when it is time to renew your policy? I know you did not use your personal insurance to cover it but I was wondering if by using Amex it would show in your profile that you had a claim in the last year.

  25. @ MM — It does offer primary coverage, and I’ve heard pretty good things about it, so seems like a good option to me if that’s what you’re looking for.

    @ Santastico — To the best of my knowledge it won’t… at least I sure hope not!

  26. I believe you’re incorrect about the AmEx premium coverage covering liability. According to the AmEx website “Coverage is primary for theft and damage to a Rental Car”, not to damage you do to other property.

    With that said, everywhere I can think of (including in the US) has basic liability coverage for all rental cars, it would be illegal in most places for a company to rent a car without this coverage. Typically this coverage is far too low to really protect you (often only $10,000 or whatever the state limit is in the US).

    As far as I know there is no credit card available in the US that provides liability coverage.

  27. Correct me if I am wrong but all these primary and secondary insurance are worthless, a HUGE risk and completely misleading the laymen.

    If you don’t take insurance that covers other vehicles and property as well as bodily damage you might inflict on yourself and others, you may loose everything and end in bankruptcy!

    Disregard all CC companies coverage and buy FULL insurance!

  28. from the amex plat website…..they got you totally covered

    5) If You are found legally liable for injuring another person or damaging their property, the Insurer will pay any related compensation and legal costs up to US$/750,000 (or US$1,000,000 in the USA) arising directly or indirectly from one cause.
    6) As a result of this benefit You do not need to purchase additional or optional insurances from the rental company which include:
    Collision Damage Waiver (CDW)
    Loss Damage Waiver (LDW)
    Removal/reduction of excess (Super CDW/LDW)
    Theft Protection (TP)
    Top Up/Supplemental Liability (SLI)
    Personal Accident (PA) (See Personal Accident benefit, Page 26)

  29. This last post is erroneous. I just called Amex and even as a centurion card holder there is no liability coverage whatsoever.
    I don’t know if it’s old information but currently you’re NOT covered for liability under even the Premium rental coverage for $24.95

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