I had often read about and bought the credit card car rental insurance offered through the Chase Sapphire Preferred, but never had to actually make use of it until last September when I got into a minor accident in California. Here is what I learned from that experience. Hopefully you will find it informative and helpful.
What is credit card car rental insurance?
Collision Damage Waiver or Loss Damage Waiver (CDW or LDW) insurance is offered by some credit cards for car rentals. This benefit is often offered by popular cards such as the Chase Ink Plus, Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or American Express SPG, among many others. Review your credit card benefits carefully if you would like to make use of this benefit.
Credit card car rental insurance can be Primary Coverage or Secondary Coverage.
- If you have existing car insurance
- Primary Coverage: You file a claim for CDW with the credit card company
- Secondary Coverage: You file a claim for CDW with your existing car insurance company and secondarily file a claim with the credit card company if there is an amount remaining after your car insurance policy has paid out
- If you don’t have existing car insurance
- Primary or Secondary Coverage: Your credit card rental car insurance defaults to primary, and you file a claim through the credit card company
What does credit card car rental insurance cover?
It is important that you read the terms and conditions of the coverage carefully so you stay eligible for coverage.
Some common restrictions include:
- Coverage is often limited to $30,000-$75,000, depending on the card
- There is a maximum number of consecutive rental days, usually 30-31
- Not every country is covered
- Exotic and luxury cars are often not covered
- It almost never includes liability insurance coverage (see below)
How to use it?
To make use of the credit card car rental insurance, you need to do two things:
- Pay for the car rental with a credit card offering the CDW insurance benefit
- Decline the CDW insurance offered by the car insurance company
- It’s important to point out that the credit card car rental insurance covers damages to only your rental vehicle; if you are at fault in an accident, you would be liable for any damage done to the other party’s vehicle
- Thus, if you don’t have existing car insurance, it is important that you purchase the Supplemental Liability Insurance through the car rental company
What to do if you actually get into an accident?
Below is what to do if you do end up getting into an accident with your rental vehicle. I used the CDW insurance offered through my Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card and rented a car from Budget. If you use another card and go through another car rental company, your experience may differ slightly.
- Call the police and get a police report
- Some states, such as California, do not send police officers to non-injury accidents so you will not have a police report to submit to the online portal (see below), this is ok
- Take several (at least two) pictures of your vehicle and the other vehicles involved in the accident
- Exchange contact and insurance information with each party involved
- Call the car rental company and document the accident time and place
- If your car is damaged past the point of being driveable then the rental company will arrange another vehicle for you and tow your current one away
- If your car is still good to drive, you are free to go and continue using your vehicle until your rental period is over and you return the vehicle
- When you return the vehicle, let the workers know that your vehicle is damaged and they will remove it from service; you will then need to go in the office and fill out an accident report
- Make sure you take a copy of this accident report with you
- Within 90 days of the accident occurring, you need to go online to eclaimsonline.com and submit a claim
- Start by creating a New Claim
- Enter card number and name to proceed
- Select Collision Damage Waiver and proceed to the next page
- Fill in your contact information
- Enter in rental and accident information and dates
- From there, upload as many of the items the portal asks for as you have ready. Click on the image below and zoom in to see what information the site will ask you for. As mentioned earlier, California will not send a police officer to the scene of a non-injury accident, so you will not need to upload a police report in that scenario.
- It is extremely important that you submit the case even if you don’t have all of the required documents to upload (this is what you need to do within the 90 days)
- Once submitted, you will receive email confirmation; someone will review your case and follow up via email requesting missing items that you did not upload
- A claims adjuster from the rental car company’s side will be assigned for your rental vehicle
- If you don’t hear from anyone in a couple weeks, you may want to call the rental agency and check in
- After waiting about four weeks, I called in to initiate the process myself
- I told the adjuster I was using my insurance through Visa. Once she realized that, she asked me for the case number from eclaimsonline and told me she would follow up and negotiate with Visa directly.
- After speaking with the claims adjuster, the process went smoothly
- I received a phone call a few weeks later alerting me that they had been in touch with Visa, and that they would let me know when the case was closed
- A few weeks after that, I received a phone call from the car rental insurance company letting me know that everything was taken care of
- I also received a letter from Visa with a copy of the check that Visa sent to Budget to settle the claim
Hopefully you never find yourself in a situation where you have to use this credit card benefit (I used it via Chase Sapphire Preferred), but if you do, you need to pay attention to detail and have patience. The process will take care of itself if you do.