Will my credit card cover rental car insurance?

Team Marble
October 13, 2021

Over the summer, Marble member Anna found herself in a sticky situation in South Carolina. After arriving in the Palmetto State to attend a wedding, she rented a car to get from Charleston Airport to her cousin’s house. While Anna had visited her cousin before, she had never driven these roads herself, and certainly not at night. Although she was paying close attention and the lights were bright, she still didn’t see the deer until seconds before it collided with her car. Fortunately for both of them, Anna slammed her foot on the brake. The deer limped off, and the car was still drivable. Admittedly, the paint was a bit chipped and parts of the fender seemed a little bit looser than before. “Lucky for me,” thought Anna, “I have insurance through my credit card.” But was she actually covered?

Like Anna, plenty of us go around assuming our credit cards will protect us financially when it comes to the theft or damage of a rental car. Sometimes this is true, sometimes it isn’t. Unsurprisingly, rental car insurance offered by a credit card isn’t entirely clear cut. 

First off, it must be noted that not all credit cards offer rental insurance, and even if yours does, you might still have to opt in to the program. This might sound obvious, but for the insurance to apply, you have to make the car booking using that credit card. And some types of rental cars (like limos, international rentals, or vans, for example) might not be covered. You’ll need to speak with your credit card provider to find out exactly what is excluded.

When insurance is offered, it is often, though not always, a secondary form of coverage, meaning that it typically kicks in only after your personal automobile insurance pays. In most cases, a personal auto policy will also cover any rental car, but you’ll want to review your coverage. 

If, however, you have a high deductible or low liability; don’t have comprehensive or collision insurance; or simply don’t want any claims filed on your personal policy, then it might be worthwhile to get insurance from the rental company. (If you don’t have auto insurance, however, both the credit card policy and the insurance from the rental car company can function as your primary policy.) Again, you’ll want to check with your provider whether the coverage is primary or secondary. 

You may also want to find out what isn’t covered. While these policies typically protect against collisions, loss of use if the car has to be serviced, and some towing expenses, they tend not to cover any medical or legal costs that may be incurred along the way. 

Finally, it’s important to remember that the coverage period is usually limited. The actual number of days can vary, but it’s worth investigating in advance — particularly if you’re planning a long trip or traveling abroad. Each credit card has a slightly different set-up, so as with everything, it’s good to read the fine print. 

Whether you’re off to South Carolina or Uzbekistan, you’ll want to protect yourself against life’s obstacles (and the world’s deer population). That’s why we built Marble to help you organize your insurance, so you can find everything you need when you need it, all in one digital hub. Set up your wallet today.

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