Signing-up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.
A reader recently asked me whether the Chase Ink Bold (a business charge card) offers primary rental car insurance for personal car rentals in the US.
And outside the US, it doesn’t matter because almost all credit card car rental insurance is effectively primary coverage, not secondary coverage.
Primary Car Rental Coverage
A few US credit cards offer primary car rental insurance in the US.
If you decline the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) offered by the car rental agency, but charge the rental to a credit card offering primary car rental coverage, the credit card insurance will usually pick up the bill for physical damage/theft, loss-of-use charges, and towing for the rental car if you get into an accident (up to the coverage limit) without requiring you to file a claim with your personal car insurance company.
Note that primary car rental insurance will NOT cover damage to the other car, any property damaged, and injuries to you or others. You are still liable for those damages and your personal car insurance policy may cover those claims.
Many folks think that having primary car rental insurance via a credit card means that the credit card insurance pays the bill for ALL damages. That is NOT true! It only pays the bill for damages to your rental car!
Secondary Car Rental Coverage
Most credit cards offer Secondary rental car insurance in the US, but which is effectively primary car rental insurance outside the US.
Suppose you decline the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) offered by the car rental agency, and charge the car rental to a credit card offering secondary car rental insurance.
If you were to get in an accident in the US, the secondary car rental credit card insurance would require you to file a claim with your personal auto insurance provider, and would then pay you only the deductible on your personal car insurance policy.
And just like primary car rental insurance, it would NOT cover damage to the other car, any property damaged, and injuries to you or others.
However, if you don’t have a car insurance policy in the US, secondary rental car insurance on a credit card will work as primary rental car insurance and will usually pay for physical damage/theft, loss-of-use charges, and towing charges for the rental car. Note that you are still liable for damages to other property and persons.
Similarly outside the US, most secondary credit card rental car insurance will actually be primary rental car insurance and will pay for physical damage/theft, loss-of-use charges, and towing charges for the rental car. You will still be liable for damages to other property and persons.
What about the Chase Ink Bold car rental insurance?
Well, the terms and conditions of the Chase Ink Bold say that the car insurance is PRIMARY when you rent the car “primarily for business purposes” and SECONDARY when you rent a car for personal use.
So be careful to not use the Chase Ink Bold for a personal car rental if you’re expecting primary rental car coverage in the US.
Insurance companies don’t like paying claims, and I’m fairly sure that you will be asked the purpose of your trip if you were to file a claim.
This is particularly important for folks who have an e-bay business or another small business which qualifies them for a business credit card.
Here’s the fine print from the terms and conditions of the Chase Ink Bold as pertains to rental car insurance.
What type of coverage is this?
Auto Rental CDW is primary coverage. In other words, when your rental is primarily for business purposes, you do not have to claim payment from any source of insurance before receiving coverage under the benefit.
However, if you are on a personal trip and you use your Business card to rent a covered vehicle, Business Auto Rental CDW supplements, and applies excess of, any valid and collectible insurance or reimbursement benefits from any source.
It does not duplicate insurance provided by or purchased through the auto rental company; it will not pay for losses reimbursed by your own insurer, employer, employer’s insurance, or any other valid and collectible insurance. Auto Rental CDW will reimburse you for the deductible portion of your personal automobile insurance, valid administrative and loss-of-use charges imposed by the rental car company, as well as reasonable towing charges resulting from covered damage or theft of a rental vehicle while it is your responsibility.
Bottom Line: I personally don’t value primary rental car insurance, because I’m comfortable filing a claim with my personal car insurance company for damage to a rental car in the US. Primary rental car insurance doesn’t cover damage to other persons or property or the rental car occupants, and that’s what I want to most protect myself against.
And outside the US, most credit card car rental insurance is effectivly primary car rental insurance!
But, some folks like car rental primary insurance coverage in the US. Just be careful to not expect primary car rental insurance coverage when you use a business credit card which offers primary insurance for a personal car rental.
And don’t forget to read the fine print because not all car rental insurance is the same!