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I have always wondered about the rental car insurance that comes with your credit card and how well it would really work if you needed it. Well, as luck would have it, I was able to put the insurance question to the test on a recent trip to Florence, Italy where my Chase Sapphire Preferred Rental Car Insurance saved me over $700 on a fender bender…
Putting Chase Sapphire Rental Car Insurance to the test…
I had almost made it. We were on our way to the Avis rental car lot at the airport, having finished a great 2-day drive through the Tuscan countryside, which is probably the best driving experience I have ever had. Driving a manual transmission through the winding hillside roads and villages of Tuscany. I highly recommend it!
However, driving around the Florence airport is anything but relaxing. Traffic can get very congested and the signs leading to the rental car return and not well marked.
As we were approaching the airport, I made a wrong turn into the airport emergency vehicle lot. The entrance was blocked, so I thought I would just put it in reverse and get back on the road. But…..I didn’t see the concrete barrier behind me and bumped right into it…
Darn it! I was minutes away from a perfect driving record in Italy…
Oh well… I finally found my way to the rental car return and told the guy at Avis about the incident. He quickly printed out my receipt with a damage estimate. Apparently, rental car companies have a list of predetermined costs for various types of damage. In this case, Rear Bumper Damage is 439 euros + 20% VAT tax (making that a $700 bone-headed move!)
Luckily, I paid for the rental with my Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and waived the insurance from Avis, since the Sapphire Preferred card comes with Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver.
Why I used my Chase Credit Card for this rental
I chose to use my Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card to pay for the car rental for two reasons:
1. No Foreign Transaction Fees: This is a great benefit for international travelers. It will save you from having to pay the 3% surcharge placed on international credit card transactions.
2. Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver: The Chase Sapphire Preferred Rental Car Insurance feature provides coverage, at no additional cost, for damage due to collision or theft when you charge the entire rental to your covered card and decline the collision damage waiver offered by the rental policy.
I must admit that I was a little skeptical if they would actually honor the coverage.
It took a little while, but they covered it!
The Claims Process: Step by Step
September 30 – Date of the Accident
October 1 – I returned home and called Chase. They actually redirected me to Visa, as it is actually Visa that covers the claim, not Chase. Visa asked me to fill out an “Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver Benefit Claim Form” – via Eclaims.com. They said that upon their receipt of this completed document, they would get back in touch with me regarding the next steps.
November 2 – I received the following letter from Visa, indicating the remaining information that is needed to finalize my claim.
November 2 – December 15 – It took me a little while to gather all of this information. I had to call the Avis international customer service number to get the relevant repair information and incident report, but they eventually got it for me.
January 16 – I get an email stating that I will get a credit on my upcoming Visa statement for the damage. They covered everything. I went to my Chase.com account and saw that the credit for the claim actually posted on the same day I received this email.
Saved by my card! The Chase Sapphire Preferred Rental Car Insurance Coverage is the real deal!!
Overall it was a bit of a pain to go through all of the paperwork associated with making the claim. But the reality is, I screwed up and they covered me. Going forward I will always make sure to use my Chase Sapphire Preferred Card for any international car rental.
Key Point – Check with your credit card provider to see if they provide Primary or Secondary Insurance for the car. This makes a big difference and you need to be aware of the implications.
Primary insurance is good, Secondary insurance really only covers you beyond what your “primary insurance provider” (your car insurance provider) is willing to cover OR if the primary coverage doesn’t apply (such as on international trips).
In my case, this was an international trip, so Visa acted as my primary coverage.
Other important things to know:
Here are some other frequently asked questions and important things to know when filing a claim using your Chase Sapphire Preferred Rental Car Insurance.
What is the Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver (“CDW”)?
Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver benefit is a card benefit made available to you at no additional cost which applies when you use your covered card to initiate and complete a rental car transaction. The benefit provides reimbursement for:
- Physical damage and theft of the covered rental vehicle.
- Valid loss-of-use charges imposed and substantiated by the rental agency. (This is a fee that the rental agency charges while the vehicle is out of service due to damage).
- Reasonable and customary towing charges, due to a covered loss, to the nearest qualified repair facility.
- Reasonable administrative fees are charged by the rental agency.
Does this waiver require a deductible?
No, there is no deductible.
How do I ensure Auto Rental CDW is in effect when I rent?
This is very important! Here’s what you need to do:
- Initiate and complete the entire rental transaction using your card that is eligible for the benefit.
- Decline the rental company’s collision damage waiver or similar provision if it is offered to you. The company may refer to the collision damage waiver as CDW or LDW in their contract or when speaking with you.
If you accept the collision damage waiver offered by the rental company, you will not be eligible for Auto Rental CDW!
What types of Vehicles are covered?
While the benefit is designed to cover most rental vehicles, some exclusions do apply. The following types of vehicles are excluded in all locations and on all card types: antique cars; cargo vans; certain vans; vehicles with an open cargo bed; trucks; motorcycles; mopeds; motorbikes; limousines; and recreational vehicles.
Certain cards also exclude expensive or exotic cars. Examples of expensive or exotic cars are the Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Bentley, Corvette, Ferrari, Jaguar, Lamborghini, Lotus, Maserati, Maybach, McLaren, Porsche, Rolls Royce, and Tesla. However, selected models of Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac, Infiniti, Land Rover, Lexus, Lincoln, and Range Rover are covered, which may also vary depending on the location of rental.
An antique car is defined as one that is over twenty (20) years old or one that has not been manufactured for ten (10) years or more.
Vans are not covered. But those designed as small-group transportation vehicles (seating up to nine (9) people, including the driver) are covered.
If you have questions about whether coverage would apply to a specific vehicle you have rented or are considering renting, we urge you to call the Benefit Administrator at 1-800-348-8472.
What situations are not covered?
It is important to know what is not covered under the damage waiver. Some of the more common exclusions are listed below:
- Any obligation You assume under any agreement (other than the deductible on Your personal auto policy)
- Any violation of the auto rental agreement or this benefit
- Injury of anyone, or damage to anything, inside or outside the Rental Vehicle
- Loss or theft of personal belongings
- Personal liability
- Expenses assumed, waived, or paid by the auto rental company, or its insurer
- The cost of any insurance, or collision damage waiver, offered by or purchased through the auto rental company
- Depreciation of the Rental Vehicle caused by the incident includes, but is not limited to, “diminished value”
- Expenses reimbursable by Your insurer, employer, or employer’s insurance
- Theft or damage due to intentional acts, or due to the driver(s) being under the influence of alcohol, intoxicants, or drugs, or due to contraband, or illegal activities
- Wear and tear, gradual deterioration, or mechanical breakdown
- Items not installed by the original manufacturer
- Damage due to off-road operation of the Rental Vehicle
- Theft or damage due to hostility of any kind (including, but not limited to, war, invasion, rebellion, insurrection, or terrorist activities)
- Confiscation by authorities
- Vehicles that do not meet the definition of covered vehicles
- Leases and mini leases
- Theft or damage as a result of the authorized driver’s and/or cardholder’s lack of reasonable care in protecting the Rental Vehicle before and/or after damage or theft occurs (for example, leaving the car running and unattended)
- Theft or damage reported more than forty-five (45) days* after the date of the incident (This timeframe may vary depending on the terms and conditions of your card. Please refer to your Guide to Benefits provided to you by your Issuing Bank).
- Theft or damage from rental transactions that originated in Israel, Jamaica, the Republic of Ireland, or Northern Ireland (This does not apply to all Cards so please call the Benefit Administrator to determine if this exclusion applies to your Card).
Answers to additional questions about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Rental Car Insurance Policy can be found here