credit cards

Does your credit card insure a rental car?

If the rental company won't release the fleet log, then you may have to pay the fees out of pocket, which the III says can cost "anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars if you are involved in an auto accident." Purchasing the CDW from the car rental company would shield you from these fees.

2. Liability coverage. Having this insurance protects you when you cause damage to other people or property in a car wreck.

"If you have liability on your own car ... then you don't have to necessarily get the liability coverage," says Salvatore. Of course, make sure the coverage level you have is high enough for the type of vehicle you will rent.

"If you don't have a car, then you probably need to get the coverage," she adds. Credit cards don't typically provide personal liability coverage.

3. Personal effects coverage. This coverage applies to theft and damage to personal belongings in your rental car.

Do you need it? If you don't plan to leave anything valuable in the car, maybe not. You also may have some coverage through your renters or homeowners insurance. Check to see if your policy includes protection for personal belongings when you travel.

Credit cards don't generally provide this benefit, but there are some exceptions. Premium Car Rental Protection from American Express offers secondary protection for personal property.

4. Personal injury or personal injury protection. This type of insurance covers medical expenses for you and the passengers in your rental car in the event of an accident.

If you have adequate health insurance coverage or already have this protection under your personal auto insurance, you may be able to decline this coverage. Credit cards generally don't provide this benefit.

Bottom line, your credit card likely only covers the collision damage waiver, which in most cases will supplement your car insurance. If you have no other insurance, you should strongly consider purchasing coverage from the car rental company.

Ask about exceptions

Once you know how much coverage you have through your auto insurance policy and credit card, find out if there are situations that would render coverage null and void. Collision damage waivers, for example, may be invalidated if damage or theft is caused by reckless or drunken driving, unlocked doors or driving off-road. In addition, the policy may exclude specific types of vehicles or rentals in certain countries. Your insurance may limit coverage to short-term rentals.

If you are traveling on business, the NAIC recommends checking with your employer about coverage. A personal auto insurance policy generally won't cover rentals for business use.


Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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