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. Paul Gitman says:

    I took the AMEX Premium Car Protection Plan and to my surprise AMEX refused to pay Loss of use, Administrative fees, diminution of value totaling over $3000. AMEX refused to step in and help and left me my own tp try to negotiate the fee.

    The AMEX advertisements are deceptive and would lead you to think that their premium plan is equivalent coverage to that from the car rental agency. IT IS NOT.

    Appealed to AMEX and they sent me back to the Premium Plan which refused to help in the first place

  2. Paul Gitman says:

    I took the AMEX Premium Car Protection Plan and to my surprise AMEX refused to pay Loss of use, Administrative fees, diminution of value totaling over $3000. AMEX refused to step in and help and left me my own tp try to negotiate the fee.

    The AMEX advertisements are deceptive and would lead you to think that their premium plan is equivalent coverage to that from the car rental agency. IT IS NOT.

    Appealed to AMEX and they sent me back to the Premium Plan which refused to help in the first place

  3. kash says:

    I recently rented a car w/ Enterprise for the long weekend and didnt buy their Insurance as I had AMEX Premium Car Protection. While returning back from Vegas, I met w/ an accident and I was towed back to Vegas airport and was given a new car. I filed a claim w/ AMEX and so far things look good. Both Enterprise and AMEX sound supportive at this point. I also got email from AMEX stating that I dont have to do any paperwork, and they will directly get in touch with enterprise. I will update how the insurance thing works.

    P.S. AMEX CSR,”Any charge Enterprise puts on your account, file a CRCDW dispute and the charges will be taken care of.”

  4. Cap Offutt says:

    Here is the text from American Express policy stating that they do not cover loss of use and depreciation costs, among other potential costs. From Rental Loss and Damage Insurance does not cover, and benefits will not be paid for:
    • sales tax related to repair of damages, unless reimbursement of such sales tax is required by law;
    • damage to any vehicle other than the Rental Auto;
    • damage to any property other than the Rental Auto, owner’s property, or items not permanently attached to the Rental Auto;
    • the Injury of anyone or anything;
    • expenses assumed, waived or paid for by the Rental Company or its insurer;
    • expenses covered by the Cardmember’s personal auto insurer, employer or employer’s insurer, or authorized driver’s insurer;
    • value added tax or similar tax, unless reimbursement of such tax is required by law;
    • loss of use fees imposed by the Rental Company;
    • diminishment of value;
    • any Rental Auto used for hire or commercial purposes; and
    • depreciation, unless reimbursement for depreciation is required by law.

  5. Tony G says:

    I’m just about to go to Cancun for 5 days . . . renting a compact car from Hertz because basically the 5 day car rental costs about the same (or less) than the transfers from the airport to the resort and back

    The rental is cheap . . . but if you add up all the various “insurances” Hertz wants to sell me, they add up to $84.80 A DAY . . . . yes, $84.80 A DAY (additional 3rd party up to $45k is $13 a day, theft protection is $7 a day with a 10% deductible, personal accident at $3 per day with a $20k limit, CDW is $29.95 a day with a big deductible, loss damage waiver is $31.95 with a deductible). So I thought I would look into what my AMEX card covers, and concluded it is probably not a whole lot, so I have gone for the AMEX Premium plan . . . I guess it is not perfect, but I sure as hell am not going to pay $84.80 a day for various insurances (that perhaps have as many loopholes as the AMEX plan . . . no mention of loss of use fees, diminishment of value)

  6. Satya says:

    I recently rented a Ford Mustang from Thrifty in Hawaii. I declined the insurance provided by the rental company. I accidentally dropped the keys in water, where the keys got wet and the car won’t start. I have to go back to rental company in a taxi to get the replacement keys, and drive back to the car again in a taxi which cost me a lot!!!. Thrifty charged me $100 for the replacement keys. I rented the car using American Express card. Does the replacement keys charge would be covered under insurance? Please advise.

  7. Joe says:

    About a year ago, after renting about 25 cars over the years, I finally wrecked one… in a parking garage in Maui. I destroyed the entire side of the rental car against a pole. Probably several thousand dollars in damage. I did rent the car with my AMEX card which I had purchased the premium rental car coverage with, so when I got the accident report from Hertz, I called AMEX and filed a claim. It was seamless! They took care of the whole thing and told me I didn’t have to think about it ever again! One thing I learned was that even if your auto insurance covers the damage to the vehicle, they DON’T cover the “lost rental” fees the rental companies charge while the vehicle you damaged is being repaired. AMEX premium rental car coverage covers this as well. No car renter should ever be without this policy!

  8. Brian Wong says:

    Thanks for the tip. I’m actually renting a vehicle for a trip to Tahoe this weekend myself. Your information was very helpful to me in making a decision on whether or not to buy the CDW. Clearly, I won’t be purchasing that since I’ll be paying with my Amex. Thanks also for posting the info you got from the CSR.

  9. RT says:

    WATCH OUT … be VERY CAREFUL when you file a police report. Try to put every single detail.
    If you made a mistake, AE might NOT cover your lost.
    I was happy to enroll with AE when things happened, but I will depress once I figure out I made mistake while file my VERY 1st ONE police report.
    Just … be very careful with AE

  10. Alfred says:


    AMEX premium covers loss of use if the rental company provides a fleet log showing that the loss the opportunity of renting that car.

    This is my case an I am waiting to see if Enterprise will provide this. So far AMEX have covered the damage expenses of the car I rented – I was not at fault I got hit by a vehicle. So my question is if AMEX does not cover loss of use can I held the insurance of the vehicle that hit me accountable for this.



    • Danielle says:

      Yes. You can still be held responsible for the Loss of Use. However, provided the the damages have been paid for, you can always request the Rental Agency reduce or waive the additional fees.

  11. Tyler Dryden says:

    I understand the arguments for Car Insurance companies (even the ones posted by their employees), but when they don’t establish trust by providing fleet utilization logs so that you may be reimbursed for lost use EVEN if it is NOT required by state law is a fault on their customer service and another way they force you into buying their coverage. Craig was very informative up top and revealed rental agencies are not going to go out of their way to do something their not legally obligated to do which is unfortunate and maybe should merit not renting from whatever companies follow that policy.

  12. Golfaholicdoc says:

    Hi, does anyone knows about paying insurance for a specific rental length, OUTSIDE the rental company?
    Heard is much cheaper and cover most or all of the charges.
    Any particular Co name to search?.Thanks.

  13. Ashah says:

    The AMex worked very good for me. I had dent on rear bumper. Amex paid claims promptly. Customer service excellent. They are waiting on utilization log from Enterprise rental for approximately $30.

    a highly recommended option.

  14. Trina says:

    I had the American Express Premium Rental Car Protection. I rented a car and someone broke into it. Let me just tell you that American Express Coverage was the worst experience ever. It took the 3 months to finally pay Thrifty for the damages to the car. Which I still had to pay $90 out of my own pocket. It took so long that Thrift was sending me letters that I was going to be taken to litigation. American express wanted me to file a claim on my home owners insurance for the $250 GPS unit that was stollen out of the car. We are renting for a year, so we dropped our home owners insurance for that year, but even if I still had my coverage, my deductible was $500 so why would I even make a claim on my policy, to have my rates go up for 3 years. So not only did I pay $25 for the protection I am out $90 and the cost of the GPS. Every time I called they gave me the run around, and it was always something different that they wanted me to fill out. I would never recommend this program. It would have been easier to buy the protection from the rental company. I could have turned the keys in and walked away.

    • Danielle says:

      You have been severely misinformed. You are NOT REQUIRED to file a claim with your homeowners insurance. American Express only requests you provide a copy of the declarations page showing your deductible. That’s what AMX covers up to. As far as the length of time it took for Thrifty to be paid, it depends on how long it takes for them to provide the documents needed to process the claim. I’m sure you don’t just pay random bills. And the $90 you had to pay out of pocket probably wasn’t for damage, it was for some fee Thrifty didn’t provide documentation for or diminishment of value which NO ONE covers. AMERICAN EXPRESS has PREMIUM CAR RENTAL PROTECTION.

    • Clara says:

      You are so right. They can find a way out of paying any claim you might have. I am out $600. Don’t use American Express!

  15. Julie says:

    The Amex car rental insurance is primary not secondary.

    • Jonathan says:

      What about the Premium rental insurance? that looks like it says it’s primary insurance, not just secondary. it does cost $17.95 (for CA residents) per rental, but looks like primary.

      getting ready to plan a trip and trying to see what my best bets are in terms of insurance and where I should spend the money.

    • C Cummings says:

      Amex car rental insurance is primary on collision and Comprehensive. The problem is that they can legally file it under Liability which is secondary. They pay nothing!

  16. GG says:

    In reference to the AMEX premium rental insurance:
    1- Does it cover the “diminishment” charge that the rental agency may deem as the drop in resale value?
    2- I understand that the “loss of use” is covered if the rental agency provides the fleet utilization log. Does anyone have any actual experience as to how the above 2 situations work for a rental in France from a European company?

  17. CDA says:

    It appears to me that half the people posting a comment here are talking about the “free” car insurance that comes with most AMEX cards (theft & damage) and the other half are talking about an AMEX policy they actually bought & paid for. Not apples & apples! I have just been researching extensively in order to rent a car in Europe, and it certainly looks like the outrageously priced rental insurance is the only way to obtain full coverage – it’s that, or gamble.

  18. C Cummings says:

    No credit card insurance helps if you reside in the state of Texas. Texas law states that damage to rental cars falls under liability. Therefore, they will not pay anything at all. Since liability falls under Secondary and there is no deductible on the liability portion of your personal insurance you/your personal insurance are responsible for the entire amount. I just found this out the hard way from American Express. Don’t depend on any coverage from your credit card!

  19. cal says:

    i have been using the premium coverage on every rental for the past 5 years and have had 3 incidents (About 75 rentals) one someone ran a red and totLed my rented suv two someone keyed my rented full size car and 3 someone pryed the trunk open and stole a bag of electronics. in the first 2 cases i made one call to amex and never heard from anyone again they took care of it all in the last they asked for reciepts which i produced ( not necciserily purchased with an amex) and they issued a statement credit.

    no complaints here.

  20. kris says:

    Why are Australiam Italy, Israel, Ireland Jamaica and New Zealand excepted?

    • Danielle says:

      The rental agencies in those six countries DO NOT ACCEPT AMX coverage. Most reantal companies there REQUIRE you take their CDW.

  21. desiCyrus says:

    I have had prior experience – in paying for the premium car insurance, being involved in an accident in the rental car, involved in the claims process with Amex and the final payment to the rental car company.

    1. Most Amex cards come with the free car insurance. This is no additional charge and as per CSR, this is a secondary insurance.

    2. I paid for the Premium Car insurance. It’s $17.95 for California customers. Car rental was from Budget. Declined Budget’s CDW. So, I need not call my primary insurance, Allstate, in case of an accident. I am from the SF Bay area, and was traveling to the LA area.

    3. Was involved in an accident in the LA area. A side-wipe incident from the other car. No cops called.

    4. Anyways, we called Allstate and Amex. Told Allstate that we have this Amex protection and we will them as primary insurance.

    5. Nevertheless, Allstate determined the other driver as faulty, said all costs in that accident was below our deducible and they will not be involved in this case anymore. Got this letter in writing too.

    6. Meanwhile, both Budget and Amex took all our information, faxed them detailed documentation and pictures. Including fleet logs. Budget sent us a a bill for $500. Amex emailed us that other driver as faulty, and amount determined to be paid as also $500. So $0 further cost to us.

    7. Amount was paid in 3 months time by Amex to Budget.

    Conclusion, in our case it was very helpful. The $17.95 helped in getting rid of a potential Budget nightmare.

    As a customer, do prepare to help triage between rental car company and Amex. Provide the same documentation to all parties, in my case, Allstate, Amex, and Budget. Keep and take ample documentation, and pictures.

  22. Juli says:

    But AMEX Premium Car Rental Protection(costs $24.95 now) does not cover any other cars. It covers only RENTAL CAR…am I right?…so it does not help much, I think.

  23. Prem says:

    I rented a car in Cancun and used AMEX premium car rental protection
    1. The premium rental charge of 19.99 did not show up online or on my statement – i have used it before and they never fail to charge me the same!!!
    2. i had a small accident and rim of the car was damaged. Thrify charged me $250 – I filed a claim with AMEX and they sent me a letter highlighting that “any tire damage” is not covered. I do i get them to cover my claim – it was a RIM damage, not tire
    anyone had similar experience

  24. Rob Neff says:

    I just called American Express from CA and enrolled in Premium Insurance. I will be billed an additional $17.95 per car rental (the rental can be for up to 42 consecutive days). The collision coverage is for $100,000 (if I total a $150,000 car, it still covers up to $100,000). This is all damage to the Rental Car, no liability though. Also, drivers listed on the Rental Contract are covered.

    There are exclusions for Premium coverage such as “Loss of Use” charges and if you violated the Rental Contract, you get no coverage from AmEx.

    However, there are four states where accidents are only billed as liability only so the AmEx card has no benefit at all (Standard or Premium).
    TEXAS, NEW YORK, NORTH DAKOTA, and MINNESOTA. AmEx will still bill me $17.95 if I rent a car there so I need to call and turn off Premium before renting in those states (kind of annoying).

    The best way to get all the details and compare the plans is to call 1-800-326-2078 and ask for them to email you the Standard Plan. Then if you agree to join the Premium Plan, they will email you a copy of the Premium agreement document.

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