Saturday, May 31, 2008

Car Rental Insurance with American Express Cards

In the never-ending battle against car-rental ripoffs, here’s another tool to consider.

American Express offers a $19.95 car rental insurance policy that is primary rental insurance. Insurance provided by all other credit cards (except Diners) is secondary – in other words, the credit-card insurance only kicks in after you’ve gone through your personal auto insurance provider to try to resolve the issue. The Amex policy is valid anywhere in the world except in Australia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, or New Zealand (which is typical with most credit-card car-rental insurance coverage).

(There are some slightly different coverages and options, depending on what state you live in. See the Amex site.)

The Amex coverage is for the entire rental period (for up to 42 days), not per day. This seems like a cheap way to give yourself an additional layer of protection, especially if you’re a leisure traveler who rents a few times a year for longer periods (rather than a business traveler renting for a day or two many times a year). You are required to register your Amex card, but there are no charges until you reserve and pay for your rental with your Amex card.