“I Saved $300 at the Car Rental Agency and $2,300 at the Scene of the Wreck With This $95 Annual Fee Card”

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“I Saved $300 at the Car Rental Agency and $2,300 at the Scene of the Wreck With This $95 Annual Fee Card”

Joseph Hostetler“I Saved $300 at the Car Rental Agency and $2,300 at the Scene of the Wreck With This $95 Annual Fee Card”Million Mile Secrets Team

We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

I don’t claim to be an authority in auto body repair.  But it seems like rental car damage estimates are usually a little steep.

When I bumped my rental car into a pole during a trip to Ireland, I expected to be charged for a few plastic wheel trim clips and a tube of Turtle Wax scratch remover.  Instead, I was charged ~$2,300.

Because I have the Citi Prestige, I have elite status with Avis, National, and Sixt.  More often than not, I receive SOME kind of rental car upgrade that’s above my social status.  So it’s important I have rental car insurance!

I Saved 300 At The Car Rental Agency And 2300 At The Scene Of The Wreck With This 95 Annual Fee Card
My Personal Car Isn’t Especially Fun to Drive. So ANY Rental Car Upgrade Is a Thrill

Purchasing insurance through the rental car agency can be costly.  One great benefit of cards like the Chase Sapphire PreferredChase Sapphire Reserve, and Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Card is that they offer primary rental insurance coverage when you decline the rental company’s collision damage waiver (CDW) and pay in full with your card.

It’s not comprehensive coverage, because you’re only covered for theft or collision damage, NOT liability.  But it’s still an excellent benefit that can save you tons of money.  Using a rental car agency’s CDW can easily cost $15+ per day!

The Chase Sapphire Preferred saved me THOUSANDS of dollars when I damaged my rental car a few years ago.  And filing the claim was easy.  I’ll show you how it’s done!

The Magic of Primary Rental Car Insurance

Back in 2014, I was relatively new to miles & points.  As green as I was, I had learned at least one thing:  Don’t leave home without the Chase Sapphire Preferred!

I had read about the card’s primary auto coverage, and used it to rent my 29-day car rental through Avis.  The auto insurance alone would have cost ~$300, so waiving their insurance would save a LOT of money.

The Avis agent did NOT like that I waived the insurance, claiming that it was mandatory.  I said I already had primary insurance from my credit card, but he informed me that “Things work differently here in Ireland.”

After literally 3 minutes of squabbling in front of a queue of spectators, he agreed to let me decline the insurance.

I Saved 300 At The Car Rental Agency And 2300 At The Scene Of The Wreck With This 95 Annual Fee Card
Declining the Collision Damage Waiver Saved Me ~$300

The majority of that trip to Ireland was living hell, but I now look back on the memories fondly.  The most stressful ordeal occurred in an underground parking lot, where I scraped my rental car against a cement pillar.

I filed a claim with Chase, and the process of getting reimbursed for the damages was much easier and faster than I had anticipated!

Timeline of Events

I’ll give you a quick rundown of what happened.

  • October 15 – I scraped my car, damaging the paint and wheel well trim.
  • October 20 – I called Chase to see if there’s anything I should know before returning the car to Avis.  The agent said Chase will need information from the rental company, so report the damage and keep all the documents.
  • October 22 – I returned the car to Avis and reported the damage.
I Saved 300 At The Car Rental Agency And 2300 At The Scene Of The Wreck With This 95 Annual Fee Card
Keep All the Documents You Receive From the Damage Report
  • October 24 – Avis charged $2,300 to my Chase Sapphire Preferred.  I immediately filed a claim, because I thought Avis would have reached out to me to account for the charge.  I promptly submitted my claim to Chase.
  • October 29 – I received an email from the claims department, saying they would need:
    • A copy of the Incident Report taken at the time of the incident
    • A letter from the rental agency itemizing the amount of the claim
    • A copy of the itemized estimate of repair or appraisal detailing the repairs made to the rental vehicle
    • A copy of the monthly billing statement verifying the charge for damages to the rental
      vehicle
    • A copy of the charge receipt and monthly billing statement verifying the rental transaction was applied to the covered card
    • Photographs of the damage to the rental vehicle, if available
  • November 13 – Avis emailed all the documents I needed.  I uploaded the documents to my open claim.
  • November 24 – I received an email that I had forgotten to attach 1 document (GAH!).  I uploaded the document.
  • December 1 – I had a check in my hand for the full amount of damages, ~$2,300.

Once the claims office had all the documentation they needed, it took just a week for me to receive my check through snail mail!  That was a pleasant surprise.  If I had submitted all my documents the first time, I reckon I would have had the check much earlier.

How to File a Claim With Chase

Filing a claim is very easy and straightforward.  Here’s a quick guide!

Step 1.   Enter Your Credit Card Information Into the Card Benefit Services Website

Go to the Eclaims Line website and press the “New Claim” button.  You’ll need to enter the number of the credit card you used to rent your car.

I Saved 300 At The Car Rental Agency And 2300 At The Scene Of The Wreck With This 95 Annual Fee Card
Step 1 – Enter the Card Number You Used to Reserve Your Rental

Step 2.   Choose the Claim Type

This is the same website you use to open claims for delayed baggage, trip delay, trip cancellation, and more.  So select the type of claim you want to open.  In this case, it is Collision Damage Waiver.

I Saved 300 At The Car Rental Agency And 2300 At The Scene Of The Wreck With This 95 Annual Fee Card
Step 2 – Select “Collision Damage Waiver”

Step 3.   Enter Personal Information

Enter information to help the claims office contact you.  In my experience, there was both email and snail mail involved.

I Saved 300 At The Car Rental Agency And 2300 At The Scene Of The Wreck With This 95 Annual Fee Card
Step 3 – Enter the Information of the Primary Cardholder

Step 4.   Enter Claim Details

Now’s your chance to explain yourself!  You’ll need to enter details of the incident, like what kind of vehicle you were driving, when it happened, and in what country.

You can write a small paragraph of any important (and vindicating) details you think the claims office should know.

I Saved 300 At The Car Rental Agency And 2300 At The Scene Of The Wreck With This 95 Annual Fee Card
Step 4 – Describe Your Situation

Step 5.   Upload Relevant Documents

There’s a long list of documents you can upload.  But not all of them are relevant to your situation, and the claims office will email you a list of documents they need for your claim.

I Saved 300 At The Car Rental Agency And 2300 At The Scene Of The Wreck With This 95 Annual Fee Card
Step 5 – Attach the Necessary Documentation

That’s it!  Submit your claim and wait for a response.

A very important thing to note is that personal liability insurance is NOT covered by credit cards.  Primary rental car coverage with a credit card only pays for damages to your rental car.  It does NOT pay for damage to other cars, damaged personal items, or medical care, which is covered by liability insurance.

Bottom Line

I was reimbursed ~$2,300 when I damaged my rental car during a month-long trip to Ireland.  I used my Chase Sapphire Preferred‘s primary rental insurance benefit, and received coverage without buying insurance through the rental agency for what would have been ~$300.

We always recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred to folks new to miles & points.  This is a prime example of the solid benefits of the card!

Do you have any experience filing a travel insurance claim with Chase?

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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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Leah at The Frugal South

This is SUCH a helpful article. I don’t have Chase Sapphire Preferred but my husband does and we will definitely be using it when we rent a car from now on!

Since Avis charged $2,300 to your card you presumably earned 6,900 extra Ultimate Rewards from this accident. Then Chase reimburses you dor the $2,300 so you were out of pocket nada. The more damage you do to a rental car the more UR points you get. Bit of moral hazard there. And a brilliant new way to Manufacture Spending.

Friendly reminder Ireland is one of the most problematic countries to rent a car in. The rental-car agents are vipers as your team member found out at time of rental. They have no problem lying to you about your CC coverage (which they likely don’t even know anything about). BUT BEWARE some credit cards won’t even cover you in Ireland (as well as Jamaica, Italy, Israel). There is a good reason for this! Research very carefully when renting a car in Ireland. And take a lot of photos of the car in the presence of the agent before driving off the lot … so this in UK as well as they LOVE charging you for prior damage they mysteriously fail to note on the sheet they give you at the time of rental.

Author

Preach, Steven. In the itemized bill I received later, I was charged an outrageous vehicle towing/transportation fee. What’s that about??

Good advice about first checking to ensure the country you’re visiting is covered. I didn’t know to do that back in 2014. A heart-stopping anecdote to my ordeal was that Chase had added coverage for Ireland just a couple months before my accident!

Chase Will send you a letter or email stating they are the primary insurer for cdw when renting in Ireland which should eliminate the hassle with the rental company when picking up the car. I had this letter with me in 2016 and when the agent told me I would have to purchase coverage through them I presented the letter from Chase and no more hassle. Next to me was a gentleman from the USA who was also renting car with his Chase card but he did not have the letter and they were refusing to allow him to turn down their cdw. I offered him my copy of the letter from Chase but the agent would not accept it for him because he had a different Chase card. Mine was the Chase Reserve. Forget what his was but it did provide the same coverage as the reserve. Even though my letter from Chase was generically addressed they would not use it for him. I suggested he call Chase and have them email the letter to him. I guess he did as he stepped away from the counter and was talking to his wife. I did not wait around to see what he did. So, to avoid a problem when picking up the car have Chase send that letter before leaving the USA. Not many cards Will cover the collision in Ireland so another benefit of having the Chase card. By law countries in Europe are required to provide liability coverage when renting there so you do not need to worry about that.

Author

That is a 5-star tip. Did you know to request this letter, or did they send it unsolicited?

I was in error about the credit card I used in Ireland. It was the Chase Preferred card and not the Reserve. I do have the reserve now. Dropped the Preferred when Chase came out with the Reserve and the 100k sign up bonus. Wife did the same thing and we are going to give Singapore Suites a try this June from NY to Singapore to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary.

Thanks Joseph. I did know to request the letter from research and called Chase to discuss. They were very helpful and were happy to send it. I think they actually emailed it to me and I printed it myself. Another thing I did, since I’m a senior citizen was to get a letter from my Doctor stating I was in good health and had no restrictions physically that would keep me from driving which was a suggestion from Bob Bestor with gemut.com. I rent all of my cars through them when traveling to Europe. Great folks to deal with. Turns out I did not really need it but presented it just in case. I know some countries have an age limit on renting cars and being 70+ I did not want to take a chance.

In regards to liability insurance, what would be the best option for that? Do you use a secondary insurance just to cover that portion as well?

Author

I’ve previously researched that question pretty extensively. No credit card will give you liability insurance, but you can definitely buy liability insurance from the rental agency. And in many cases, it’s not even optional!

We’ll write a post on this in the very near future and better flesh out the topic.

Please write a blog post about best options to get liability insurance for rental cars for 1. Inside the US, 2. Outside the US. Thank you in advance.

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