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 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 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 the rental car companies have a list of predetermined costs for various types of damage. In this case, Rear Bumper Damage is 439 Euro + 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. I chose to use this 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 did.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Rental Car Insurance: The Claims Process
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”. They said that upon their receipt of this completed document, they would get back in touch with me regarding 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.