American Express Car Rental Insurance

American Express Car Rental Insurance: Benefits, Coverage, How to Apply

American Express offers car rental insurance coverage as a benefit to many of its cardholders. This coverage provides protection against damage or theft when you use your eligible American Express card to pay for a rental car.

American Express car rental insurance acts as secondary coverage, meaning it kicks in after your primary insurance policy limits are reached. For example, if you have auto insurance with a $500 deductible, American Express would cover the deductible amount under its rental car policy.

Understanding how American Express insurance works for rental cars can ensure you have sufficient coverage when traveling and renting vehicles. This article will break down the key details including coverage amounts, eligibility, activation, claims process, and tips for maximizing benefits.

Understanding Your Coverage Options

Primary vs. Secondary Coverage

Most personal and business auto insurance policies in the US offer primary coverage for rental cars. This means they kick in first in the event of an accident or theft.

American Express rental car coverage acts as secondary insurance. It provides extra coverage above and beyond your primary insurance limits.

For example, if you cause $5000 worth of damage to a rental car, your primary insurer may cover the first $3000 under its collision coverage. American Express would then handle the remaining $2000 as the secondary insurer.

What’s Covered Under American Express Car Rental Insurance

American Express policies include the following protections:

Collision Damage Waiver (CDW)

CDW covers damage to the rental vehicle from an accident or vandalism. It will pay for repairs or reimburse the rental company for the value of the vehicle if it’s totaled.

Theft Protection

If the rental car is stolen, American Express insurance will reimburse the rental company for the value of the vehicle (minus any applicable deductible).

Towing Charges

Towing and loss-of-use charges are covered if they result from a covered loss, like an accident or theft. However, make sure towing coverage is not voided by driving the rental vehicle off-road.

Benefits Of Using American Express For Car Rentals

Car Rental Insurance
Credits: ChatGPT

Choosing American Express rental coverage over the car company’s insurance provides several advantages:

  • You avoid paying the daily insurance fees charged by rental agencies, which can add up quickly.
  • American Express coverage is primary for personal rentals while traveling internationally. So you have thorough protection without filing a claim with your primary insurer.
  • You can enjoy peace of mind knowing quality coverage is in place should anything happen to the vehicle.
  • Coverage applies worldwide with no geographical limitations.
  • Claims can be filed entirely online or over the phone – no need to coordinate with the rental agency.
  • American Express coverage may be secondary for business rentals, providing valuable extra protection.

What’s Not Covered

While American Express policies are quite comprehensive, some exclusions apply:

  • Coverage does not extend to vehicles rented for commercial purposes like package delivery.
  • Loss stemming from illegal activity, driving under the influence, or driving off-road is not covered.
  • Personal liability insurance for injuries to passengers or damage to other vehicles is not included.
  • Rental trucks, full-size vans, antique cars, and other specialty vehicles are often excluded.
  • Coverage may not apply in certain countries like Australia, Italy, New Zealand, and Jamaica.

Be sure to review the full policy terms to understand exclusions specific to your card.

Personal Injuries or Damages to Other Vehicles

The American Express policy only covers damage to the rental car itself. It does not apply to liability coverage for injuries to other people or damage you may cause to other vehicles or property. You’d need to ensure your own car insurance policy or the rental company’s liability insurance covers such scenarios.

Eligibility and Activation Process

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
Source: American Express

Eligible American Express Cards

Here are some cards that include car rental loss and damage insurance:

  • Platinum Card® from American Express
  • Business Platinum Card® from American Express
  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
  • Gold Card® from American Express
  • Business Gold Card® from American Express

Consult your card’s benefits guide to confirm. Terms vary across card versions and countries.

How to Activate Your Insurance Coverage

You need to take the following steps to activate the rental car insurance with American Express:

  1. Decline the rental company’s collision insurance/damage waiver.
  2. Use your eligible American Express card to pay for the full rental car payment.
  3. Activate coverage by calling 1-800-338-1670 if renting in the U.S. or 1-800-419-2122 (Toll Free) for rentals abroad. You must do this within 30 days of initiating the rental agreement.

Following this process confirms the transaction and policy details with American Express before driving off the lot.

How to Apply For American Express Car Rental Insurance

Since the coverage comes standard with eligible American Express cards, there is no separate application process. As long as you have one of the cards that includes the rental car policy, you can take advantage by following the activation steps when renting a vehicle.

The insurance is free for eligible cardholders. There are no extra forms to fill out or applications to submit outside of activating the coverage for each rental car transaction. As long as you use the correct card to pay, the benefits will apply.

How to Use American Express Car Rental Insurance

Woman Holding American Express Credit card
Credits: Canva

Properly utilizing American Express rental coverage involves a few best practices:

At the Rental Agency

When renting your vehicle, be sure to:

  • Decline the collision damage waiver (CDW) or loss damage waiver (LDW) offered by the rental company. Accepting their insurance may invalidate American Express protections.
  • Use your eligible American Express card to pay for the entire rental amount. Coverage only applies when you pay the full amount with the correct card.
  • Don’t let the agent pressure you into unnecessary add-ons. Politely insist on declining all additional insurance options.
  • Review the rental agreement to ensure no insurance was added without your consent.

In Case of an Accident or Theft

If the unfortunate does occur, be sure to follow these steps:

  • Contact the police to file an official report if the vehicle was stolen or involved in an accident.
  • Record details and take photos of any damage to the rental car.
  • Contact the rental agency immediately to inform them of the incident.
  • Call American Express at 1-800-338-1670 to begin your claim. Do this as soon as possible.
  • Do not voluntarily pay for any damages without prior approval from American Express, as it may invalidate your coverage.

How to File a Claim with American Express

Insurance documents
Credits: ChatGPT

Submitting an insurance claim with American Express for rental car damages involves gathering some key documentation:

Required Documentation

Be prepared to provide:

  • Rental car agreement showing eligible American Express card was used
  • Statement showing the rental car payment
  • Police report if applicable
  • Photos documenting damage/theft
  • Any invoices or documentation of repairs or value of stolen items
  • Rental company’s accident/damage claims report

Having this information ready will help facilitate the claims process.

Claim Process Timeline

You can expect:

  • A decision on your claim within 15 days of submission.
  • Reimbursement deposited to your account within 20 days of approval.
  • The rental agency paid directly within 45 days of approval.

Contact American Express immediately to start the process and avoid any delays.

American Express Car Rental Insurance vs Other Providers

Platinum American Express Credit Card
Credits: HNGU

How does coverage from American Express compare to other rental car insurance options? Here are some key differences:

Coverage Differences

American Express policies tend to provide higher coverage limits compared to some other credit card rental car benefits. For example, Visa’s coverage may max out at around $35,000 while American Express goes up to $50,000 or more.

However, American Express does not provide liability protection. Credit cards like Visa and Mastercard may offer supplemental liability in addition to collision/damage coverage.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

Declining the rental company’s CDW/LDW and using American Express coverage often makes the most financial sense. You can avoid markups of $10-30 per day added to the base rental rate.

For longer rentals or business travel, the savings really add up compared to paying each time. American Express coverage also tends to be more comprehensive in terms of included countries and vehicles.

Tips for Maximizing Your Coverage

Follow these best practices to make sure you get the most value from American Express rental car benefits:

Review Your Policy Before Renting

Don’t wait until you’re at the counter to understand your coverage. Read through the policy so you know key details like eligible vehicles, coverage limits, exclusions, and activation requirements.

Keep All Rental Documents

Save your rental agreement, receipt showing American Express payment, and any police reports or documentation from the rental company regarding damages/theft. This provides proof for your claim.

Report Incidents Immediately

Notify American Express and the rental agency ASAP in the event of any accident, damage, theft, or loss involving the vehicle. Quick reporting looks better when filing a claim.


Claiming insurance
Credits: Canva

American Express rental car insurance provides valuable protection for cardholders when renting vehicles. Taking advantage of this free coverage just requires having an eligible card, declining unnecessary options from the rental agency, and understanding how to activate and file a claim. Following the tips above allows you to rent with confidence knowing you have comprehensive protection against unexpected incidents.

Frequently Asked Questions

American Express rental car insurance provides secondary coverage that kicks in after your primary auto insurance is exhausted. It covers damage or theft when you use an eligible card to reserve and pay for the entire rental. You must decline the CDW/LDW offered by the agency.

Typical covered losses include:

  • Damage to the rental vehicle from collision, vandalism, or natural disaster
  • Theft of the rental vehicle
  • Valid loss-of-use and towing charges related to a covered loss