American Express Premium Car Rental Protection Review

I’ve previously mentioned this in passing, but a forum member was asking for details so I thought it would be a good idea to write a review…

What is it?

All American Express cards (and most major credit cards) include car rental loss and damage insurance free of charge. This coverage is usually secondary, which means it is only paid out if you don’t have regular car insurance that will foot the bill.

Since most car insurance plans cover you while driving rentals too, the likelihood of actually using credit card insurance benefits is slim. However, travelling internationally is a different story, since regular auto insurance typically will only cover you within the United States.

The American Express Premium Car Rental Protection is an optional upgrade that will give you primary coverage, additional benefits, and higher caps on coverage amounts.

Premium Car Rental Protection vs. Car Rental Loss & Damage Insurance

comparison chart for the premium car rental protection vs. regular

How does the pricing work?

Compared to the cost of buying insurance from the car rental company, the AmEx Premium Car Rental Protection is probably cheaper if you will be renting for at least one or two days.

At the time of this review, the fee is a flat $24.95 per rental, up to a maximum of 42 days (30 for Washington state cardmembers). Think about it – if you’re renting a full week, that works out to be only $3.57 per day. For 3 weeks, it’s barely more than a buck a day. This is much cheaper than paying the $10 to $35 per day for coverage from the rent-a-car company.

And for California residents, the price is even cheaper at $17.95 per rental. Imagine that… California being cheaper for something? That has got to be a first!

How do you sign up?

You can enroll your American Express card in the Premium Car Rental Protection program. From that point forward, you will be charged each time you rent.

American Express Premium Rental Car Protection — the 3 biggest advantages

  • 1. Helps to avoid claims on your personal insurance: With the basic secondary coverage your American Express already includes, you risk having your personal auto insurance premiums hiked if you get in an accident, since that is who will be paying first. However with American Express Premium Car Rental Protection, you won’t have to file a claim with your personal insurance company (assuming to cost of your claim doesn’t exceed AmEx’s coverage limits). That means you won’t have to worry about your premiums going up for having a claim.
  • 2. Saves you paying for a deductible: You won’t have to worry about paying a deductible if a claim is made. If you’re like me and most Americans, you probably have a deductible of $500, maybe even $1,000!
  • 3. Might cover vehicles your basic card coverage won’t: The secondary car rental loss and damage insurance that is offered for free on most credit cards excludes a number of vehicles, including SUVs, pickup trucks, luxury cars and others. As you can see from the chart above, the Premium car rental insurance claims to cover a broader array of vehicles, but definitely check with AmEx before renting to confirm the make/model you’re renting is covered.

The disadvantages:

  • As with any type of insurance, there are always rules, exclusions and limitations. Consult American Express for all details regarding their Premium Car Rental Protection program. This article is only a summary, last updated Jan 2013, and it may be outdated/incorrect now and/or in the future. Accuracy of this article is not guaranteed!
  • Vehicles rented in Australia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, and New Zealand don’t qualify for coverage.

Verdict?

The American Express Premium Car Rental Protection offers you a lot for very little money.

Best AmEx credit cards in 2015 for benefits + rewards?

For 2015 here are my top recommendations. Please click the links to see the applicable Terms and Restrictions associated with each card.

Gold Delta SkyMiles: If you are partial to Delta Airlines, then this is the card you want to go with. The main reason is because of the benefits, such as free first checked bag, priority boarding, and more.

Starwood Preferred Guest: Don’t think of this as just a hotel card. Why? Because it’s actually the most versatile card for frequent flyer miles in my opinion. This is the only card which let’s you convert points to nearly 30 frequent flyer programs on a 1 for 1 conversion. Go here to see my review.

Blue Cash PreferredBlue Cash Preferred: This doesn’t offer travel rewards, but it does dole out some serious cash back. You get Get 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on the first $6,000 spent per year, 1% thereafter), 3% cash back on gas at U.S. gas stations and select department stores, and 1% cash back on other purchases. For more details, go here to see my review.

 

Written or last updated September 1, 2015

 
Comments
The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Guys
There are exclusions that are not paid for by Amex when you use their Premium Car rental protection. I paid $19.xx for my rental for 3 days. My car was hit by hail in dallas. Avis came back with 6.5k in expenses including 3 charges of Diminished Value of car , Loss of rental and Miscellaneous (collection) fees.
Avis was not willing to provide details on loss of rental, miscellanous fees details to Amex to process. Diminished value was not covered by Amex. I cannot seem to get them to talk to each other to even partially process the fees. End result i am going to have to pay upto 1000.00 from my pocket, I might have been better of applying this to my own insurance, I would assume every accident will generate a diminished value of the vehicle which is not covered by Amex Premium car rental protection program.
K

I had signed up for AMEX Premium car rental for 5 years. Last month, while returning to Enterprise car rental the car to the airport in Tampa, they pointed out a small dent on the non-driver side door. They claimed USD 400. AMEX was thoroughly professional in handling it with personal touch. Their online tracking and keeping me posted of the progress by text messaging . I certainly would recommend it.

Called the toll-free # today to speak to a “Customer Care Professional. Placed on hold as “All C.C.P’s were assisting other customers”. On hold for 32 minutes before hanging up. Have had this insurance for over 20 years but this is the final straw. Contract will be canx.

Not recommended. I purchased the “premium” protection and learned after submitting a claim that it doesn’t even cover tire damage. Moreover, I had many hassles with the company. I submitted a claim electronically, received a confirmation, and then learned after several weeks that it was never processed because of a computer glitch, so I had to submit the claim all over. Then the company charged my Amex card several times for insurance on one car rental. One charge is still being disputed. In the end, this insurance was nothing but headaches.

@Tawnie. AMEX PREMIUM ($24.95 per rental) is indeed the PRIMARY insurance on the rental car that was paid for with AMEX card (e.g. if you drive into a tree – damage is covered and AMEX is the primary).

If you are at fault in an accident and damage another car – then your private insurance company gets involved. I suspect this is what happened in your case.

I purchased the Amex premium car rental protection insurance in 2009; used and paid for the premium of over 5 years thankfully without any problems with rentals. However, in June 2014 I had an slight accident on vacation. Called Amex immediately to file claim and was told that they were the secondary insurance after my personal insurance. My personal insurance covered all the damages and AMEX rental protection paid nothing towards the claim and of course my personal insurance increased… Very upset that after paying $24.95 for every car rental in five years (which was at least 2-3 times per year) that they refused to pay anything…. READ THE FINE PRINT…. they are not the PRIMARY as listed above. Maybe it only works well out of the country where your personal insurance would not apply. I felt like I was covered for many years only to be disappointed and having FALSE sense of security…. Wish I knew earlier. BEWARE and read carefully….

I called customer support for a simple question on the coverage and was held for over one and a half hour before I gave up. I can’t imagine filing a claim with them!

Harriette Seiler

American Express Premium Car Rental Protection recently left me with a $280 balance to pay to a Canadian car rental agency because the AMEX claims agent would only pay 4 1/2 days loss of use for body damage to the roof of a 2014 rental car. Nor would they pay the rental company administrative fee. I was totally blameless–a bough fell on the car roof during a storm. I followed all rules. This international claim was handled in a timely fashion but the arbitrary AMEX decision to pay only half the loss of use days should be troubling to potential purchasers of the premium plan.
And I’ve been an AMEX card holder since the 1970s. No way to treat a longtime and trusting card member!

When I enrolled in the Premium Car Rental Program, I was told that I would be 100% covered for damage and vandalism. I had a few scratches on my rear right corner bumper when I returned the vehicle – had no idea as to how it got there but it was there. Enterprise quickly charged my card 500.00 for coverage. Amx told me to dispute the charge as part of the process, but paid Enterprise the full amount anyway immediately afterwards. The dispute did not show up on my Amx account only the 500.00 charge, but Amx lied to me and verbally told me that it was disputed. Enterprise settled the damages to 399.00 and sent me a check for 100.00. Amx would not pay me the remaining amount but covered 80% of it. They didn’t cover Enterprises 50.00 Administrative Fees? They covered a partial amount of Loss of Use, and their explanation of Loss of Use Coverage was Enterprise uses a different calculation for loss of use than Amx. I told them that they shouldn’t of released the money to Enterprise until they can settle out all charges, including loss of use. Enterprise could have doubled their loss of use charge and Amx would not have cared one bit. That would be less for Amx to charge me. Here is the scarey part – if this was a serious accident where a lot of repairs is at stake, paying 20% of a huge bill can be a costly thing. If your bill is 10,000.00, then you better have some deep pockets.

I rented an auto and had the American Express Premium Car Rental Insurance. The windshield was hit by a rock while on the interstate. I submitted the claim to American Express and the claim was paid without any trouble at all. I love the protection and not having to file a claim with my private insurance company.

A “scratch” in Germany netted us a $760 repair bill charged to our rental. We had the premium rental car coverage with AE. That was June 2013. It’s now almost May 2014. American Express still hasn’t settled it. I’m very disappointed. Hertz has sent it to collections. We call them. They say they’ll have a supervisor return the call. No one calls.

Reading all the comments online , I’m getting scare , wondering now if I will renew my memberships with Amex next year 🙁

Beware! Several years ago I rented an Infiniti M35 for a week. While returning the car to the drop-off, another driver side-swiped the driver’s side and damaged the side mirror which was a powered heated dimming unit($700+ to repair). AMEX PCRP denied the claim because the rental car didn’t fall into it’s ” rental use percentage” or something like that. Meaning that if the car your renting is only rented 70% in a given time frame and AMEX PCRP percentage is 75%, you’re on the hook. Not only did I have to pay for the mirror, l had to pay Loss of Use, which is how long the car is out of service, which was another week. I ended up paying 3 weeks for a car I only used for 1!!!

WE use premium car rental insurance and it was great when we had a damaged windshield in France. When we returned the car we had to sign a form to pay 437 euros for the cracked windshield and charged it to our Amex. We did the online form and it was resolved within the billing cycle with no charge to us. They even covered the foreign transaction fee.

I called up customer support twice now in the past 30 minutes and they can’t even tell me if I am covered. If they can’t function on as simple a basis as that, I can only wonder how they will be if I am in an accident in a rent-a-car.

I signed up for the premium version and liked the idea. I went on a trip and had a blowout on the freeway and damaged the tire. After almost three months waiting for the claim, they informed me they do NOT cover tires. So now I will cover the over $300 claim. Next week I also cancel this insurance.

Sondra Dougherty

Tires are listed in the Policy as not covered

@Paul: If you try to enroll again, the website will state that you have already enrolled to the product and disable the option that you had chosen before.

My investment partners sent me the information above on your car rental protection. I am very interested.

We already have an American Express card through SAMS Club can we add this protection to our current card ?

Thanks

Richard Noteman

I signed up for AMEX Premium Car Rental Protection earlier today, but I have had no confirmation that it went through. What do I need to do to confirm that I am covered? Is there someone I can phone?

Yes, you should definitely call customer support to confirm you are enrolled.