Credit, Insurance, Personal Finance 

American Express Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance Plan

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While in Lake Tahoe, I’ll be renting a car for about a week and the usual Collision Damage Waiver (insurance) cost approximately $15/day and they’re generally regarded as a waste of money because most credit cards will cover you as a secondary insurance (your primary auto insurance comes first). I saw that my Costco American Express TrueEarnings card has a Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance policy as a free benefit for all cardholders but was concerned at the fine print: “Coverage is determined by the terms, conditions, and exclusions of Policy AX0925 and is subject to change with notice.” Try to find Policy AX0925 anywhere online… guaranteed you won’t. (don’t bother, I asked a CSR and he said it’s not online anywhere).

I called them up and got a full explanation of both their standard car rental loss and damage insurance, free for all TrueEarnings card members, and their premium car rental loss and damage insurance, which has a $24.95 fee per car rental.

Essentially the standard coverage is identical to the car rental agency’s Collision Damage Waiver, which covers any damage or loss to the vehicle (not your items inside!). Some highlights:

  • It has no deductible
  • Covers you for a rental period of up to 30 consecutive days.
  • It will cover you worldwide except Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Ireland and Jamaica.
  • It does not have liability coverage, but your primary auto insurance will have that.
  • It also does not cover fifteen passenger vans, pickup trucks, large SUVs, and vehicles over $50,000 in value.
  • Finally, it’s a secondary insurance so your primary insurance picks up the tab and it will cover what your primary insurance does not.

What does the Premium Car Rental Protection cover?

  • The policy becomes your primary insurance policy for your rental period.
  • It also covers some liability, loss or theft of items inside the vehicle,
  • some death and dismemberment,
  • and a handful of other ancillary insurance items.

All you do is enroll in the program, which is free, and you are charged $24.95 each time you rent a car. There is no cost to join or cancel.

The basic program is pretty good because it basically replaces comprehensive and collision insurance, which I don’t carry, and my liability insurance, which would be first anyway, covers the liability portion it does not cover. For a mere $25, I can get primary coverage for nearly everything (and some) which comes out to approximately $3+ per day.

I reached a CSR by calling 800-338-1670.

{ 124 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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124 Responses to “American Express Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance Plan”

  1. Chris says:

    For those that were wondering if the basic coverage would cover something that you don’t have insurance for, it would. For instance, I only have comprehensive insurance on my personal insurance. If I were in an accident, AMEX’s basic plan would pay since they become primary (since I have no personal collision).

  2. Lori says:

    See my post above, dated 08/29/2007.

    I will say this. Even though I was not impressed with the finger pointing I got from American Express and Thrifty regarding the $300.00 loss of use/administration fees, paying the $300.00 to Thrifty was far better than paying the $1400.00 in damage and having that accident on my insurance. So American Express did save me an increase to my insurance premium.

    Having said that, Thrifty treated me in such a horrible manner that I will NEVER use Thrifty again.

  3. Jeff says:

    If the AMEX premium coverage becomes the primary coverage, does your personal auto insurance then become secondary?

    Or, do the covered limits of the AMEX then become the total amount of insurance, and in effect reducing how much insurance you actually have?


  4. Jim says:

    Are there any plaintiff class action lawyers out there listening to this discussion about the rental car companies refusal to provide loss of use information? This is the classic type of a lawsuit that is not worth the time and money ot a single individual but a class action involving several thousand people could be worthwhile and have a good chance of success.


  5. Lori says:

    That would be great if there was a class action filed.

  6. anon1 says:

    I used AMEX card, got into an accident, and they only covered the insurance deductible. Neither they nor my personal insurance would cover all the administrative fees and loss of use. I’m out 350-500 dollars.
    Don’t believe the CC company marketing. A class action suit is inevitable.

  7. Rich says:

    I’m in the middle of the same situation with Mastercard. I thought I was covered by my primary insurance and MasterCard via MasterRental when a deer collided with my rental van. MasterCard first surprised me by identifying that the collision damage was fully rather than partially covered by my primary insurance, based on the location where it occurred.

    However, Mastercard wants the fleet utilization log, and the rental company sent me a letter indicated it is their right not to provide it.

    MasterCards response to my question about getting my ‘reasonable loss of use charges’ reimbured:
    Only with a valid Fleet Utilization Log from the rental company, which 95% refuse to send.

    (Name removed)
    Claims Examiner
    MasterCard Assistance Center
    If they know rental agencies won’t provide the log, it should be illegal for them to offer this coverage as a benefit. MasterRental didn’t cover a single penny of my claim!

  8. Joe says:

    Maybe it’s just better off to pay the renter’s insurance:

  9. Gregg says:

    If you sign up for the individual coverage through the car rental companies – does that cover Loss of Use? I’m seeing a lot of negative about the AmEx programs because they don’t cover Loss of Use. But do the rental companies offer coverage that includes that?

  10. Bill says:

    I’m in the same scenario….

    Auto Insurance and Master Rental Credit Card Insurance both want the Fleet Utilization Log.

    Dollar Rent-a-Car refuses to provide it.

    Meanwhile I’ve got a 850.00 bill.

    3 things to do differently.
    1. Don’t pay for the car in advance. Go to the counter, amend the contract to say you will not pay loss of use charges, unless they provide the fleet utilization log. If they refuse to let you amend it, then go to another rental agency. I doubt they will let a rental fee walk out the door for a such a reasonable amendment. And at an airport with 10 choices….you get the picture. REMEMBER Contracts are an agreement between 2 PARTIES.
    2. If you are on business, buy all the insurance. You may be a safe driver, but in unfamiliar terrain, your risks sky rocket and this should be your employers problem, not yours.
    3. If you aren’t on business, just get the min. coverage it takes to cover loss of use charges. Your credit card or insurance will cover the rest.

    If all else fails, know your state laws about collections, In Colorado if you settle with the collection agent within 30 days, it doesn’t go on your credit report……and MOST COLLECTION AGENTS ARE AUTHORIZED TO TAKE 50% of the actual bill for settlement. This is your final revenge. Because the rental car agency will end up getting probably only 25% of what they were originally asking for from you.

    Don’t bring collections up, negotiate in good faith, but refuse to pay the full amount. Go hard at the Admin fee. This is the first thing they are willing to budge on. Any amount you can get off the total bill is great, but anything less than half is short of your goal, because the collection agent will go lower.

    My wife has used this on more than one occasion to level the playing field with outrageous medical bills. It works and it doesn’t come out on your credit score.

    Happy Negotiating! Knowledge is Power!

    (I think this would make a great Class Action!)

  11. Lily says:

    I am a legal assistant at Milstein, Adelman & Kreger, a class action law firm in Santa Monica, California and our firm is currently investigating American Express over the claims that many of you have discussed in your postings above. We have been looking into the American Express rental car insurance plan in detail and how it offers significantly less coverage than regular rental car insurance. We would like to follow up with any of you directly to find out more information regarding this matter and to see if there is legal action that can be taken. If interested, please feel free to contact me with additional information and/or personal experiences with the American Express rental car insurance plan. I can be reached at 310-396-9600 extension 102 or at Thank you!

  12. Lori says:

    Hello Lily…

    I was hoping to see a posting like yours… 🙂

    Most of my story is detailed above in a posting I created on August 29, 2007.

    I will contact you directly via e-mail.


  13. Joyce says:

    I just signed up with AX for the premium insurance. I’m also a Costco Ax cardmember. We’ve had recent car problems with our personal vehicles, and have been using Enterprise for the past few weekends. We are accident free and plan to stay that way, but preferred the lower rate and what we felt was the AX reputation (we’ve always had excellent experience over two decades with them). I am assuming that they would be my primary insurance for the rental. What feedback does anyone have on their experiences?

  14. Lori says:

    Joyce, I experienced finger pointing between American Express and Thrifty car rental. Please see my post above dated August 29, 2007.

  15. joe says:

    I see above that amex and mastercard are mentioned, can someone discuss the differences between the two. i’ve always used the amex premium insurance, but now i have a mastercard and would like to cancel the amex card but i’m afraid their rental insurance is not as good. what do you think

  16. Bo says:

    Has anyone gone to small claims as a result of rental company failure to provide utilization log and based on that – amex refusing to pay for loss of use fee?

    what was the outcome? could any small claims possibly grant the collection agency claim while the rental company had refused to provide a log?


  17. Andy says:

    While the loss of use issue is definitely annoying and potentially costly in the event of an accident. I still think the Amex Premium Car Insurance is a cost-effective means to an ends except for very short term rentals. Foremost, for only $25 per rental it saves you from having to file a claim with your personal car insurance carrier and therefore can save you from potentially higher rates following an accident. Mind you those higher rates are not single time charges, but ones that will likely affect you for at least 3 years.

    Granted, the car rental companies’ insurance plan is more comprehensive as it covers everything Amex’s premium plan does plus loss of use, but from my analysis, those plans are painfully expensive. From my experience, the cost of the rental companies’ insurance ranges from $15-30 per day of the rental. In a recent week long trip, Alamo wanted $25/day for their insurance, that adds up to $175. The cost per day for the rental vehicle was only $35, so to buy their insurance would almost double the cost of the rental contract. By comparison, the Amex premium plan is a flat fee of $25. Yes, while loss of use could be a potential issue if I was in an accident with the Amex plan, in my mind, the probability of getting into an accident on any given rental contract period is very small so the price offset between Amex plan and the rental companies’ plan is worth it. Take this scenario as an example, let’s say Jim is extremely unlucky and gets into an accident every 5th time he rents a car. Let’s also assume that each rental period is for one week (average vacation length). If Jim bought the rental companies insurance every time, he would have paid between $525-$1050 (35 days times $15-30 day) for full coverage to cover each accident. If he had the same accident frequency but used the Amex plan, Jim would have only paid $125 for the Amex plan over that same time frame, that means that unless the loss of use fees charged to him from the accident were more than $400 he would still be ahead using the Amex plan (and that is only if the rental company’s insurance was at the low end – $15/day). Most people don’t get into accidents as frequently as in the scenario above, and the more rentals that go by between accidents, the more the loss of use fee would have to be to make the car rental company’s plan worth it. That just speaks to how much better the Amex premium plan is compared to going with the car companies’ plans, at least from my perspective.

    One caveat however, is for very short term rentals (e.g., 1 or 2 day rentals). In those cases, paying the $15-30/day might make sense since you will be paying a very similar rate to the Amex plan’s rate (maybe even less), but getting full coverage. But, for longer term rentals, I think the Amex plan makes good sense.

    • Scott says:

      Use 2 credit cards. Use the AMEX with Premium cvoerage on longer rentals and the other card for 1-2 day rentals. Problem solved.

    • Jim says:

      This is excellent reasoning and I find it very persuasive. Thanks!

  18. Brad says:

    I don’t have collison coverage on my 1979 Mustang or any rental car coverage on on any other policy. I have an American Express Platinum Card. If I rent a car, does my card automatically become primary coverage since I have no other insurance (deductable). I wrote AMEX to put an answer in writing and they refused to answer it. I already know that AMEX would pay only the deductable over the other insurance policies I don’t have.

  19. clark737 says:

    Be aware with the American Express program they will probably not pay for everything in spite of their claims. They will demand certain records which the car rental companies are not required to keep, and therefore don’t, so you will be left with part of the bill for any damages. The American Express people talk a good game but don’t deliver when the time comes. Thrifty told me that Visa actually pays these charges and is a better way to go.

  20. Brad says:

    On the other Blueprint board Mastercard covers loss of use so why would anybody use AMEX rental car coverage INCLUDING premium which has ZERO loss of use coverage? I don’t care because I don’t have any deductible and cards kick in primary if you believe people. AMEX won’t print their policies on loss of use or when primary kicks in on their sites for good reason: you’d know the truth and not buy premium and you’d nail them for a new car on a total if you don’t have any collision coverage on your own policy (just liability) or better than that: own no car. Evasive phone operators, not the Bombay bunch.

  21. Brad says:

    Why doesn’t Andy use a simple Matercard with coverage as well as loss of use coverage instead of AMEX with doesn’t cover loss of use including if you get their premium package. At $50 per day loss of use they charge for a 7 day fix yer done. Who pays $35 a day rental? I get rentals at Advatage & Enterprise for $89-$125 a week 15 times a year from Expedia. AMEX is a stone rip-off. A 6th grader understands that loss of use is not covered by AMEX but it is on Mastercard. Gee, anyone for AMEX? AMEX refuses to put this loss of use non-coverage in their website. Good reason: you’d get a Mastercard. Their phone operators are experts at dodging any tough question. Forget about answering tough questions by mail. You get a form letter to call.

  22. keith says:

    Hey all,
    Just got off the phone with State Farm. State Farm says for $32/year, they will add “loss of use” to a car that is rented / not your own. Seems like a great deal, and it consolidates all the fighting between your insurance company and the rental firm, as opposed to multi-party finger pointing. best,

  23. Reggie Brown says:

    I rented a car using premium car rental program
    I blew a tire which had to be replaced. Five months later Amex said tires are not covered under their rental program.

  24. Andrew says:

    All of you are missing the point. The “damage waiver” they offer at a rental car company is NOT insurance. If you get in an accident with the rental car and you signed up for the damage waiver then you hand over the keys and walk away. Your insurance is not deductible…nothing on your record. It’s like it never happened. Sure, your insurance will cover the damage if you don’t get it, but you are out your deductible and your premium will skyrocket. I personally don’t get it but I know that I am rolling the dice.

  25. GTZ says:

    MAn, I’ve have learned soooo much. Thanks for all your time and input everyone!
    I will buy the Damage/Loss Wavier that Hertz offers for the Corvette I’m renting for my daughter’s wedding getaway car. 1 cay, no hassle. and “You Go” you class action suiter!

    I hate that AmX/Thrift-legal run around.

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