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A Heads-Up about Insuring Your Rental Car through your Credit Card company

A Heads-Up about Insuring Your Rental Car through your Credit Card company

Old Oct 31st, 2007, 06:09 PM
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A Heads-Up about Insuring Your Rental Car through your Credit Card company

Maybe others are aware of this, but I wasn't and it caused me a great deal of stress on my recent trip to England.

I had reserved a rental car through AutoEurope last March; paying for the rental with my American Express card. When we arrived at Europcar in York last week to pick up the car, I declined the company's collision damage waiver and theft protection insurance as I had been instructed to do by American Express.

A couple of days later, I was reviewing some of the paperwork relating to the rental when I noticed that American Express had stipulated that "the Card Member must be the Primary Renter of the vehicle". Well, I had used MY Amex card to arrange for the rental, but had listed my husband as "Primary Renter" since he was going to do the driving. I hadn't really given it much thought since both my husband and I have Amex cards and we are billed with a single statement, but actually the two cards are slightly different in that the last two digits of the card numbers are not the same.

I called American Express and discovered that this was, in fact, a problem; so essentially we had been driving around for a couple of days with no collision or theft protection on the vehicle. I was advised to go back to Europcar and get the contract amended; fortunately there was a Europcar rental agency just a few miles away so we did so the next day. But the entire experience made me feel anxious about whether we were fully covered or whether there was perhaps some other loophole that I wasn't aware of.

Just wanted to let others know of this experience. I came away thinking that maybe for peace of mind it would be better to just pay for the car rental company's collision and theft insurance, rather than depend on the vagaries of the credit card company.

Or maybe next time I should just go by train!
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Old Oct 31st, 2007, 07:21 PM
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You bring up a very good point. And it's important to find out what the deal is if there are two drivers. I haven't checked this out as I haven't needed to, but it's been suggested here than some cards will only cover the driver whose card was used. That could be tricky also. I'm not sure if that's what you meant by primary renter.
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Old Nov 1st, 2007, 02:15 PM
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You could have listed both of you as drivers, but the rental car company probably would have charged more for the second driver.
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Old Nov 1st, 2007, 04:19 PM
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We've dealt with this many times, as my wife has the Amex in her name only and I'm the only one who can drive a manual transmission. We just list her as the primary driver and myself as the secondary driver, and then I just do all the driving. Usually there's no extra charge for spouses.
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Old Nov 1st, 2007, 04:22 PM
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Yup, important point. Thanks for bringing it up. Next time sign both of you up as drivers and pay the extra $25 for the second driver.
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Old Nov 1st, 2007, 04:30 PM
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I just go ahead and pay for the insurance, when I travel outside the USA, for peace of mind.
 
Old Nov 1st, 2007, 05:34 PM
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Here's another credit-card insurance complication that can arise:
http://tinyurl.com/ywx62w
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Old Nov 1st, 2007, 05:37 PM
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Lil Ricky. I used to do that too, but when we got talked out of doing that by the AutoEurope phone rep for a two week rental from London to Wales, it immediately saved us several hundred dollars. But even more important when we totaled the car in Wales, and the credit card insurance paid for EVERYTHING, it saved us about another thousand dollars for the "deductible" of 500 pounds we would have had to pay if we had taken the full insurance package.

It's sometimes funny that people here will grouse about the big "rip off" of a bank charging them $5 for an ATM withdrawal, but think nothing of throwing away a couple hundred dollars for insurance they truly don't need, and CAN even be better off without.
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Old Nov 1st, 2007, 08:43 PM
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Neopatrick....your last sentence so very true...we do insurance and it is one of the worst ripoffs...

but you do have to know the rules...you rent in the states extra drivers arent covered....we never break the rule
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Old Nov 2nd, 2007, 04:08 AM
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Ji A

>I came away thinking that maybe for peace of mind it would be better to just pay for the car rental company's collision and theft insurance, rather than depend on the vagaries of the credit card company.<

I don't understand this.

You now know (as you would have known had you asked Amex) that the primary renter has to be the CC holder.

Thus, in future, you can use whichever CC you wish and list whichever person is the holder of the CC as the primary driver.

Why would you rather pay for insurance coverage that is likely to have a high deductible from the rental agency?

ira is offline  
Old Nov 2nd, 2007, 04:41 AM
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It is so easy to phone your credit card company before your trip, tell them what you are planning to do and follow their advice. A few other caveats:
1. Your credit card insurance may not cover a sports or luxury car rental.
2. There is often a maximum time limit - some as little as 31 days - that you can be insured.
3. If you "top up" with any other insurance it will probably void your cc insurance.
4. If you prepay extra money into your cc to make sure you will have credit card room, your cc insurance may be void as this is offered because you are paying by credit.
Personally, if I had a claim, I would rather deal through my (bank) credit card at home than a car rental agency in a foreign country.

In WillTravel's example above the author admits that he didn't go back through the broker (AutoEurope). Bad decision.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2007, 05:08 AM
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I have sympathy for you because we had a mix-up last fall in France.

I rented and paid for a car which we picked up in the Dordogne. My friend was to be the driver. (I cannot drive a stick shift)

We eventually messed up the car (trouble with the clutch in Domme) and were charged more than $1200.US by the rental agency. Because I was the renter of the car, I was the one covered by my VISA insurance. But since my friend drove the car, the damage was charged to her card and was not recoverable. (She had to give her card at pick-up to insure against any damage). Autoeurope was of little help and eventually my friend had to pay for the damages. (Actually the story is a bit more complicaed since there was a third driver, who actually incurred the damage...and who was listed as a driver of the car but was not insured..but that is all too complicated to describe here.)

The morale is to make sure that the person who pays for the car is the driver...

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Old Nov 2nd, 2007, 06:53 AM
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And here's another thing to pay attention to, though I believe mine is a rare situation.

My husband and I moved to Germany two years ago, but we kept the same Amex that we've had for years in the U.S. We simply changed the billing address to Germany.

We don't own a car here and therefore do not have any auto insurance policy. We rented a car several months ago with our Amex and declined insurance offered. Somewhere at some point, the front bumper got scratched. We didn't think too much as we thought we were covered by Amex. Unfortunately, we were told that the Amex policy only covers cardholders with a U.S. billing address. I even called Amex before our trip to confirm coverage, but my negligence to mention that I live in Germany resulted in a 400 euro charge. Lesson learned!
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Old Nov 2nd, 2007, 08:06 AM
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Hi all,

Amex, MC, Visa, etc will send you a copy of their insurance policies by snail mail, or you can download them at their respective websites.

It helps to read them before you rent a car.

ira is offline  
Old Nov 2nd, 2007, 08:41 AM
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To Ira: Yes, I agree that if we rent cars in Europe in the future, the important thing is to be sure that I use my husband's card to secure the rental, AND list him as the primary renter. Our situation resulted from the fact that I thought our card numbers were the same, but they weren't, and not noticing that was entirely my fault.

But I was a little discouraged by AmEx's total lack of interest in assisting me when I called them to report the problem. Also, I've since been reading about car rental agencies failing to cooperate with credit card companies in order to get damages paid for (see willtravel's entry), with the result that the renter gets stuck with the repair bill anyway. We were fortunate not to have incurred any damage to the vehicle during our trip, but the whole experience seriously impacted our enjoyment of motoring in Britain, and by contrast the days we spent using public transportation (in London and to York) seem so carefree in retrospect!

I really think I might look into train and bus travel next time. It's just my personal opinion, but it seems as though that would be a less stressful option for us.
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