Does American Express Offer Rental Car Insurance?

Last Updated on February 3, 2022

Rental car insurance can be confusing. Some credit cards provide rental car insurance, while others do not. Some policies extend coverage to rental cars, while others do not.

Does your American Express credit card cover car rental insurance? Do you need to buy insurance from the rental car agency when using an AMEX card? How does rental car insurance work when paying with American Express? Today, we’re explaining everything you need to know about AMEX rental insurance.

Most American Express Credit Cards Have Basic Rental Car Coverage

AMEX rental car insuranceYes, most American Express credit cards come with complimentary collision damage waiver (CDW) coverage, which means you can safely avoid the car rental company’s in-house insurance. Just pay for the rental with your American Express credit card, and you should have basic CDW coverage throughout your rental.

American Express credit card holders can also purchase Premium Car Rental Protection, which provides extended coverage for drivers who want greater peace of mind during the rental period.

Check your American Express credit card documentation to verify rental car insurance coverage. Most American Express credit cards provide car rental insurance, although some cards (like cheaper cards with no annual fee) do not offer coverage.

What’s the Catch with American Express Rental Car Coverage?

American Express offers basic rental car insurance coverage on most cards. If you pay for your rental car using your American Express credit card, then you should have collision damage waiver (CDW) insurance on your vehicle.

However, there’s a big drawback to this rental car coverage: it provides secondary rental car insurance coverage – not primary coverage.

Because this is secondary insurance, it’s only activated after you exhaust the limits of your primary insurance. In this case, you would file an insurance claim with your personal insurance company first and then activate the American Express CDW coverage.

As secondary rental car insurance, American Express rental car insurance covers the loss of the rental car and damage to the rental car. It covers you in incidents where the rental car is damaged or stolen, for example.

There’s another catch with this coverage: you need to decline the rental car company’s collision damage waiver. If you accept the rental car company’s collision damage waiver (CDW) coverage, then your American Express CDW coverage will not apply.

How American Express Premium Car Rental Protection Work

Most AMEX credit cards come with rental car insurance coverage by default. However, drivers can save more on car rental coverage by buying American Express’s Premium Car Rental Protection.

This optional policy charges you an extra fee per rental but provides added coverage beyond the basic CDW protection.

Contact American Express to enroll in the Premium Car Rental Protection plan.

When activated, the Premium Car Rental Protection Plan charges your credit card an extra $12.25 to $24.95 fee for every car rental (the fee varies depending on your rental, your coverage options, and your state of residence).

Once coverage is activated, you get additional rental car coverage for up to 42 consecutive days. Instead of paying, say, $10 to $25 per day to your rental car company, you pay a flat fee of $12 to $25 for your entire rental period.

Other features of AMEX’s Premium Car Rental Protection include:

  • Pay a flat rate to get up to 42 consecutive days of coverage (not the per-day rate charged by most rental car companies)
  • Choose from two coverage options based on your budget
  • Only pay when renting a car using a credit card enrolled in the Premium Car Rental Protection program
  • Covers theft, vehicle damage, and other incidents without paying your deductible
  • Provides up to $100,000 of coverage for your rental car (coverage limits vary)

With American Express’s Premium Car Rental Protection Plan, you get significantly more rental car insurance coverage for a small extra fee. If you want an extra layer of protection for your rental car, then the Premium Car Rental Protection Plan may be worth it. If you’re okay with extra risk, then American Express’s basic CDW coverage may be sufficient.

American Express Rental Car Insurance Exclusions

Even if you buy the American Express Premium Car Rental Protection, you may face certain exclusions. American Express’s insurance company could deny your claim in certain situations.

Exclusions on American Express rental car coverage:

  • Any truck other than a pickup truck
  • Cube vans or box trucks
  • Leased or mini-leased vehicles
  • Vehicles with aftermarket parts or modifications (except for accessibility equipment for drivers with disabilities)
  • Vehicles more than 20 years old
  • Vehicles that have not been manufactured for the last 10 or more years
  • Limousines, off-road vehicles, motorcycles, motorbikes, mopeds, RVs, golf carts, campers, trailers, and other ‘unique’ rental vehicles

What Is Not Covered by American Express Car Rental Insurance?

Additionally, American Express car rental insurance does not cover certain damages or expenses, including all of the following:

  • Costs attributed to the rental company’s normal course of doing business
  • Damage that occurred to the vehicle before your rental period
  • Damage to the tires
  • Manufacturer’s defects on the vehicle
  • Wear and tear on the vehicle
  • Damage to items in the vehicle
  • Depreciation on the value of the vehicle

Read Your American Express Policy for Other Exclusions

As with most insurance policies, there are other restrictions to your American Express rental car policy.

Your claim could be denied if you were consuming excessive amounts of alcohol while driving the vehicle during the time of the incident. Your claim could also be denied if the vehicle is confiscated by the police, used for dangerous driving, or used for any illegal purposes.

Your claim could be denied in all of the following circumstances:

  • Using the rental car in violation of your rental agreement
  • Engaging in illegal activity
  • Driving the vehicle while intoxicated
  • Driving certain types of excluded vehicles, including cargo vans, leased vehicles, limousines, or RVs
  • Causing intentional damage to the vehicle or failing to secure the vehicle
  • Check your American Express rental car insurance policy to verify your claim does not violate any of the listed exclusions.

How to Make a Claim Through American Express Rental Car Insurance Coverage

To make a claim with your American Express car rental insurance coverage, you must meet the following requirements:

Step 1) Before renting the vehicle, read your American Express car rental loss and damage insurance plan.

Step 2) Pay for your entire car rental with a valid American Express payment method (i.e. pay for the rental using your AMEX credit card).

Step 3) Deny your insurance company’s collision damage waiver (CDW) coverage when prompted.

Step 4) Immediately notify law enforcement if your rental car is damaged, stolen, or vandalized.

Step 5) Within 30 days of the incident, contact the American Express benefits department at 800-338-1670 or 216-617-2500 (if overseas).

Step 6) Complete the claim form and provide supporting documentation to American Express within 60 days.

Before paying your claim, American Express may request an itemized repair bill, a police report, photos of damages, proof of your personal insurance coverage, and proof you paid the car rental using your American Express credit card.

If American Express approves your claim, you should receive a payment within 90 days.

Final Word – AMEX Rental Insurance

Most American Express credit cards have basic collision damage waiver (CDW) protection. This protection acts as secondary insurance if you need to make a claim. You make a claim through your own insurance first, and the American Express covers any remaining damages if necessary.

Alternatively, you can add American Express’s Premium Car Rental Protection to your credit card, which charges you $12 to $25 every time you rent a car. This gives you primary insurance coverage and higher limits. If you want primary insurance and better peace of mind, then AMEX’s Premium Car Rental Protection may be worth the added cost.

James Shaffer
James Shaffer James Shaffer is a writer for and a well-seasoned auto insurance industry veteran. He has a deep knowledge of insurance rules and regulations and is passionate about helping drivers save money on auto insurance. He is responsible for researching and writing about anything auto insurance-related. He holds a bachelor's degree from Bentley University and his work has been quoted by NBC News, CNN, and The Washington Post.
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